Well, after five amazing weeks, my trip to Russia has come to an end. I have to say, I loved every minute of it. Living in Russia is so much different than living in the United States, but I learned so much and found a new comfort level in the country. Before this program, I was extremely worried about how I would adapt to Russian life. I didn’t think I knew the language well enough, and I kept on doubting myself. However, in my last week, I was able to explore the Dostoevsky museum by myself with no fear. This trip, particularly with this program and the support they gave, strengthened my confidence in so many ways.
The last few days were a scramble to both study for final exams and see the sites in St. Petersburg that I hadn’t been able to see yet. There were, unfortunately, a few that I had to leave off of my list, but I guess that means there’s more for me to do when I come back! Aside from the Dostoevsky museum (probably my favorite place in St. Petersburg, because I love his writing), I finally got to see the inside of the Church on Spilled Blood, which is just as magnificent as the outside. We also climbed the 300 or so steps to the observation deck at the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and got a breathtaking view of the city from above.
On our last day of the program, however, we got a view of the city from a little bit below. We took a boat tour through some of St. Petersburg’s many canals, passing some of our favorite sites and some new ones, even after five weeks. As we floated out on the wide expanse of the Neva River, it was hard for me to believe that my time in Russia had already flown by. However, I feel like 5 weeks was a perfect amount of time for a first visit. Not too short, but also not long enough for severe culture shock to kick in for me.
The night ended with a great end of program dinner at a restaurant complete with traditional Russian dancers. It was a nice setting to spend time with everyone in the program for one last time, because in less than 24 hours, we were all on the plane back to London, and after that everyone departed for the US at different times.
It was hard to leave, but I’ll always treasure the friends and memories I made on this trip. Also, I know it’s not goodbye forever–I’ll be back in St. Petersburg soon enough!