What is life in St. Petersburg really like? To help you stay up to date, we’ve asked our students to share what they found while abroad in Venice of the North!
SRAS: First, think of the city – what was available in terms of culture, shopping, and services. Were you able to find things to do and the goods and services you needed? What was missing? Were there any pleasant surprises?
Joseph Ernst (Summer, 2019): As the University is sat in the center of the city, you are never far from cultural spaces. The Kazan Cathedral, the Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood, as well as museums like the Russian Museum are very close to the University. Nevsky Metro Station is also just down the street, and this allows you to easily access all major parts of the city. For managing an in-country sim card, Megaphone and MTC both have stores a few hundred yards from the University. Nevsky and Sadovaya have most basic stores that you will need, whether it is a grocery store, electronic shop, or a hair salon. Although I am not a big shopper, I found the big flea market located across Sadovaya street from the University is a great place to practice haggling and to find cheap luggage and clothing! There is also a hidden chinese stolovaya there…a legendary challenge for all SRAS students to find.
SRAS: How were the prices abroad? Did you find your host city affordable in terms of food and entertainment?
Joseph Ernst (Summer, 2019): Most everything (except brand clothing, I found) is cheaper compared to the US. For example, you can get a satisfying meal for 3-7 dollars, and a beer anywhere from 2-5 dollars. Many electronics will be about the same price as in the US, but most everyday items like laundry detergent, paper towels, or foodstuffs are generally cheaper. Bread and veggies like potatoes and onions are extremely cheap (a dollar or two for a bag of potatoes), and milk and other drinks are going to cost you significantly less than in the US> For entertainment, I was able to go to a lot of movies for 3 or 4 dollars! You can also find tickets to operas or ballets for 30-60 dollars (pretty good price), while of course there are still very expensive tickets depending on the night/performance.
SRAS: How were the people you met? Were you able to generally complete transactions with any professionals you interacted with (at offices, cafes, shops)? Did you find local friends to share your free time with?
Joseph Ernst (Summer, 2019): Russian people are lovely once you get a conversation started. After getting used to hearing cashiers speak some unknown phrases rather quickly, I did not have any problems completing transactions. I found that sharing a drink with a Russian, especially when trying to speak in Russian, is the best way to make friends with the locals. I spent dozens of hours just chatting away at local pubs with random people, who by the end of the program, I now consider friends.
SRAS: What modes of transport did you use? Did you generally find them convenient and affordable? Did you travel outside the city during your stay?
Joseph Ernst (Summer, 2019): The metro is the greatest form of transport ever. Coming from a city with terrible transport, I found it the utmost convenience means of travelling great distances quickly. There are a great number of buses and trolleys also that will take you where the metro does not go, and all of it costs less than a dollar per ride. I did not travel outside the city during my stay, outside of included excursions in the program.