I continue to struggle with the White Nights. I’m constantly waking up in the middle of the night because it’s so bright out and I think it’s morning. Then, I’m tempted to close the curtains but then it will be too dark and I won’t wake up because I’ll think it’s night. What a dilemma!
On another note, the adventure continues. Today we went and exchanged some more currency. We waited in line forever…apparently someone was trying to Western Union some money. We met a woman from Australia standing in line behind us and chatted with her for a bit.
The most interesting thing was learning when and how to use certain expressions that I already know. For example, the expression “kto posledni” (who’s last) was something I knew but never knew how or when it was used. But after standing in line for a while, people would enter, see the queue and ask this. I realized it was a way of asking who was next in line.
Later in the day we met up with Anastasia, one of the Russian teachers at university who has recently moved back to St. Petersburg. It was great to see a familiar face and she even invited us to her flat where she cooked us our first traditional Russian meal. It consisted of pelmeni with dill, butter and sour cream, sushki, juice, sweets, sausages and more. It was delicious, to say the least. I think pelmeni is one of the dishes I’ll miss the most when I leave. I’ve never tasted anything like it and it’s so good.
When I got back to the dorm today I put together a rough list of some of the things I’ve learned from my first trip abroad. So far they are as follows:
Don’t always listen to people’s advice about what to pack
Bring a map
Know the language (at least to some extent; especially in Russia!)
Bring warm clothes
Don’t draw attention to yourself/know when to blend in
Know the culture and respect it
Have contacts in the city
Don’t be afraid to ask for directions/make mistakes/embarrass yourself
Laugh at yourself and laugh a lot
Bring your own necessities…you just never know
Take lots of pictures
Bring comfortable shoes
Bring band aids
Bring food with you just in case…you never know when you’ll find the next supermarket
Bring comforts from home
Trust your instincts (despite cultural differences)