Russia’s cultural capital, Window to the West, Venice of the North, all of the above. It is a city full of beauty, paradox, adventure and mystery.
St.Petersburg, actually, Russia in general- is as mystifying to me as it was on my first day of Russian class at age thirteen. Yes, I have what I believe to be a comfortable grasp on the language, a working knowledge of Russian history and an deep appreciation for Russian culture. However, not a single one of these facts change my understanding of Russia as a whole.
Winston Churchill once said that “Russia, is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” How could a country with such a long and complex history and deeply entrenched cultural values be anything less than mysterious? Today, a mere 35 days before I embark upon my 5 months Study Abroad Program at St.Petersburg State University, these words could not resound any more deeply within me.
In the weeks before my trip, it feels as if Russia itself is trying to remind me of this fact. Upon arriving in St.Petersburg, I will not even meet my host family or find out my home address for at least a week.
Despite all the mystery surrounding it, I am more excited to stay in St.Petersburg than I have ever been for anything in my life. While I simply cannot fathom the experiences I will have while I am there, I have spent the majority of my academic career preparing for this trip and I am ready for anything that comes my way. I become more curious with each passing day and at this point I cannot wait to immerse myself in the challenges and life lessons that await me.