Home Sweet Home. It’s weird to being saying that. “Home sweet home”. After spending the last two months living in Berlin, the city does feel like home, especially after spending the last week in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was just getting the hang of German, so spending a week in Russia was challenging, but nevertheless it was one in a life time opportunity. The week was jam-packed with tours of museums, palaces and various important sites related to Russian history. We visited St. Issac’s Cathedral, The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Nikolaus- Marine-Kathedrale and the Hermitage Museum to name a few. To top it off, we saw the Markovsky Ballet’s rendition of Don Quixote, one of THE infamous Russian Ballets. I also got the chance to meet up with a friend I met while studying at the Goethe, who is from St. Petersburg and studies at the University there.
St. Petersburg is known as the “Venice of the North”. As someone who has also been to Venice, I definitely see the comparison. When designing the city, Peter the Great wanted St. Petersburg to resemble Venice and Amsterdam, with the various canals running through the city. In addition to the Neva River, Petersburg also has hundreds of canals. In the city center, most of the architecture resembles Baroque style architecture. The majority of the buildings are also painted in light colors, various shades of yellow, blue and green in order to brighten up the city. Most of year is spent in darkness with the sun rarely showing through the clouds. Unlike the tight, winding streets of Venice, St. Petersburg is full of large boulevards, lots of traffic with both pedestrians and motor vehicles. Unlike Berlin, there are very few metro lines that run in St. Petersburg and are built farther apart from one another. We did take the metro multiple times during our visit, and boy was it an experience. First of all, the metro lines are about 1 km under ground, so the escalator ride down is approximately 2 ½ minutes long (I know because I timed it). Many of the metro stations are also elaborately decorated with grand archways. It’s extremely stressful to take the metro, especially during rush hour. Roughly 3 million people use the metro daily in St. Petersburg, which means it’s always busy and crowded. The doors don’t stay open for very long, so you are forced to push your way through the crowd before the doors slam shut.
Now many are probably thinking, “So Andie you were in Russia, how is Putin doing?” Sorry to disappoint, but there were unfortunately no Putin sittings in St. Petersburg, but we did get to talk with students about their opinions on not only Putin but other political matters. I wont get into great detail, but the students we had the opportunity to talk to were definitely supporters of Putin. They believe he has done a lot for Russia in bringing them out of debt and believe it makes sense to support someone who continues to help their country. Our tour guide gave a lecture on Russian politics while we were at the technical university visiting these students. We were reminded that 85% of Russians support Putin. I had to chuckle a little bit when she raved about how successful the Sochi Winter Olympics were, because we all know there was much controversy during those two weeks and the months leading up to Games itself. We all agreed that it felt as though they were all trying to defend their country and what they were saying sounded a bit scripted. Nonetheless, it was eye opening to hear from Russian students, especially because Russian news is so prevalent in the United States.
While I had an amazing week in St. Petersburg, it’s good to be back in Deutschland. The weather is still relatively warm, and most importantly it’s not snowing!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi, my name is Andie D'Agostino. I am a senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. I am an Architectural Studies major with a minor in Sociology. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in urban planning and community development.</span></p>