Russia vs Life – Why Russia is the Bomb.

March 4, 2012

In my last blog, I briefly mentioned that I was surprised by Saint Petersburg. My first impressions were really good and I was blown away by the City. Now, two weeks on, I have seen Russia in a new light. I was told by many people beforehand about Russian horror stories and elements of Russian life that I should expect during my stay in SPB. Although I’ve only been here for just over 2 weeks, I think that I now have my own opinion of Russia and its people, and I have to say, most of these “horror stories” are completely untrue. I’ve harked on about how much I love Russia on Facebook and Twitter, but not really given any reason as to why. So, here is my explanation, along with those “horror stories” I was meant to be encountering..

Horror Story 1: You will live in a horrible flat with a grumpy old Hoziyanka, be fed disgusting food, and be expected to settle into Soviet Russian life.

I think this is so far from the truth it’s ridiculous, but I think this is mainly because my accommodation was sorted outside of RLUS. As I said last time, I live in a flat with Anna and her family. I share a room with Anna, who I really get on with, and live with her Mum, Stepdad and little sister Veronika, who is 4. Although I live quite far out of SPB (in the North of the City, an hours commute away from School), I really don’t mind, because I live with such a lovely family, in a lovely flat, in a fairly nice area. Plus, the hour commute to School gives me time to wake up and think about anything and everything. I can’t imagine living anywhere else and I am so happy with my accommodation. I’m sure some people haven’t been as lucky as I have, but overall, people seem to be enjoying their homestays, somewhat more than the people who are in the Hostel!

Russia 1 – Ridiculous Stereotypes – 0

Horror Story 2: Everyone in Russia is depressed.

Now I definitely thought this when I went to Yaroslavl 5 years ago. People looked miserable, were drinking on the streets, and you could tell that people in Yaroslavl hadn’t quite gotten over the Communist regime. Since coming to Saint Petersburg, I haven’t really encountered many people like those in Yaroslavl. Yes, people still drink on the streets, but I think that is mainly down to the 24 hour Supermarkets that sell stupidly cheap beer. Yes, no-one smiles, and yes, no-one makes eye contact with you, but by no means do I think people in Russia are depressed. I actually quite like the fact that no-one smiles at you. It’s exactly how I feel when I first wake up in the morning, so good on them. Although it does mean that if you ever start smiling for some reason, you do get stared at like there is something wrong with you. I think Russia has moved on from its past, and hopefully one day, a Russian will be able to crack a smile on the metro.

Russia 2 – Stereotypes – 0

Horror Story 3: You will find it ridiculously hard to make Russian friends.

I was told by the majority of students who went to SPB in first semester that they found it hard to find and make Russian friends, and that a lot of them left Russia disappointed because they didn’t feel like they had spoken enough Russian outside the classroom. Luckily, I had Frisbee on my side, and I was not going to let the stereotype and the language barrier stop me from playing. So on Wednesday I went to my first Frisbee session. The girl I had been emailing wasn’t there, so at first I stood alone watching people throw about. Soon enough, people approached me and started to ask me about myself, which was really kind, because even with my crappy Russian speaking skills, we still managed to make each other understood and have a nice little conversation, and it turned out that they were really nice! One of them even told me that he thought I was beautiful after 5 minutes, (which I was told later on by another player that he lacked social skills, poor guy). I then set up a Vkontakte account (equivilant to Russian Facebook) and now I have 14 friends, 11 of which are Russian, and 3 English, who actually talk to me every day and ask me how I am. I was brave, and went alone, and even though I was incredibly nervous and shy, I feel like I made a breakthrough personally with my language and my own courage! My social life has been set up. Job done.

Russia – 3, Sarah – 1, Stereotypes – 0

Horror Story 4: Russia is COLD.

I’m kind of disappointed that this horror story hasn’t really happened, because I wanted to see what -25 degrees felt like. We’ve had a fair amount of snow, and it’s been a bit nippy, (coldest has probably been -8), but I can’t help but think this is “warm” for Russia in February/March. Anna doesn’t seem to think that it will go back down to -25, so that’s Russian winter over for the year. Although the massive problem that SPB has now is the thaw. After months of snow and ice and the temperature rising, somethings gotta give. I was fairly close to my first trip to A+E this week when an icicle fell about a metre in front of me. And apparently I was not the first person to encounter a near miss. Last year, falling icicles killed 4 people in Saint Petersburg, so from now on, I’m going to avoid walking directly under buildings.  And another massive problem, (and the ONLY thing I hate about Saint Petersburg), is the ice. Because the temperature has been fluctuating, rain and snow has been semi solidifying in random places, making the pavements an absolute nightmare to walk on. You could be wearing the sturdiest boots in the world and they still won’t save you from falling. Unfortunately I fell victim to this yesterday after Frisbee when I slipped on a patch of black ice and fell straight onto my kneecaps. I now have the biggest bruises on my knees and I know have an irrational fear of pavements. Oh well, I survived 2 weeks without falling. I cannot wait for it to melt..

Russia – 3, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes, 0

Horror Story 5: Russia is not safe.

Obviously coming from Richmond and being in Sheffield for 2 years, Russia was always going to be unsafe in comparison. We have had many talks about safety here. Don’t wear low bags. Don’t walk anywhere along at night. Don’t carry excess money with you. All these talks and warnings made me feel really nervous when I got the metro for the time, and especially when I first went to Frisbee. I had the mentality that I was going to be mugged, attacked, and abducted in one fell swoop, but the reality is that people aren’t really that interested in you. If you look down, stay quiet, and keep walking, no-one is going to stop you. Obviously, there are some bad people in Russia, but I am yet to hear of one bad experience. You have to take precautions, but I actually feel fairly safe here. Hopefully that will relive some of you!

Russia – 4, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes, 0

Horror Story 6: Russia is corrupt.

We’ll find out tomorrow. But I’m going to go with yes.

Russia – 4, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes, 1

Horror Story 7: Russia will turn you into a cynical alcoholic, you’ll whine until the cows come home, and you will really miss home.

Firstly, much to the disappointment of one of my friends, I haven’t actually had any Vodka yet.. But in all seriousness, I can’t see myself hating Russia. I don’t actually miss England so to say, but I do really miss individuals. Saint Petersburg is so similar to bigger cities in England that I actually feel really at home here. And the complaining? I really hope that doesn’t happen. I am so happy with life right now that I don’t feel the need to nit pick and whine about SPB. Yes, Russia is different, but that was to be expected. I am loving every second here, and I hope that this will continue into June. 🙂


Final Results: Russia – 5, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes – 1.

So, there you have it. Why I love Russia in less than 1500 words. I wish this was my essay..

I’m sure I will be updating you soon.

Lots of Russki love 🙂

Sarah xo


P.s. I would really like to thank everyone who reads my blog. A lot of you have given me great feedback and it really means a lot! Please feel free to spread the word and forward this on. 🙂


2 Responses to “Russia vs Life – Why Russia is the Bomb.”

  1. Anna( Аня) said

    THANK YOU!!! YOU ARE BRILLIANT!! KEEP ON WRITING!! ОЧЕНЬ ЖДУ ПРОДОЛЖЕНИЯ! sorry about caps lock….emotions…

  2. Hello I’ve nominated you for a versatile blogging award! You can pick it up here!

    Yeah I’m a bit bored and Amanda posted it on mine. Glad to see you’re having fun!

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