So I’ve now been living and studying here in St Petersburg, Russia for 3 months. As the ice has thawed, the sun come out and the temperature sliightly risen, I think we might finally be past the random jabs of snow. And when the sun is out, just see for yourself how gorgeous this city is…
So, I have been thinking, as well as discussing with a couple of other European students…do I/we like Russia? We agreed on honestly feeling the same thing: we love it and we hate it, at the same time. It’s really that strong.
For a European, living here can be trying. Many Russian people come across to us very serious, sometimes rude, sometimes…hard and not very personable. There is a reluctance to connect and empathise with strangers – a wariness – which can especially impact foreigners. Then there is of course the difficult weather, and other differences that are natural being in a different country, like food (not great availability of cheese here, boohoo first world problem!).
However, we also experience the other extreme: instances of people being super lovely, fun, and welcoming; glorious sunny days, and delicious food (like pelmeni mmm) that make us forget the negative things for a bit. The skies, buildings and countryside take your breath away. Not to mention the rest of Russia’s awesome culture, the literature and the music that wet your eyes with tears and laughter.
We go to Russia, we’re swung about between enraging situations, unforgettable laughter, breathtaking sights and more, and we come away changed an immeasurable amount for the better. Russia teaches you to accept what you can’t control, it teaches you to laugh at it too!! It pushes you past your limits, to make you realise your own strength and resilience, which the Russian people are so full of.
I think people might opine these are lessons learned travelling independently anywhere in the world, but speaking for the countries I’ve been in , I feel Russia is a different experience. It’s kind of…wild and full of contradictions. It can be really confusing. But all of this, trust me, gets you hooked!