No Experience like a Russian Experience

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Studying in Saint Petersburg has been an amazing experience. I’ve been gifted with the ability to learn about Russia’s vast culture, its people and tradition.

If this is your first time in Russia, like myself, especially coming from Australia and not having been to Europe or anywhere with a similar culture, it was a huge shock and awakening. Arriving at the airport is tricky, but luckily you’ll have your buddy. If for some reason they cannot pick you up at airport, let your coordinator know and also check out the facebook pages for the university and exchange students. Arriving at the dormitory alone is a nightmare if your language level is of beginner standard. It’s best to have a Russian speaker to guide you through and translate the messages being passed on to you. Make sure to get settled in and speak to everyone you meet. Walking around downstairs helps and sitting in the study room helps since you are likely to meet some new students there who are accessing the internet.

The university offers various activities and events during the first month so ensure you join all of them in order to socialize and make some friends. Go out as much as possible during this time before classes start. In terms of sim cards, my buddy helped me set up with MTC. It’s an unlimited data deal and there is an initial start up cost and then every month it is roughly 10 euros. The stores have a self service top up machine to help if you can’t yet master asking a worker for assistance. If your apartment has a student who has been studying from the previous semester or year, you might want to ask to share the wifi which saves you money, time and the hassle of going to the main campus and setting it up.

Laundry can be done downstairs, however if this is full or you simply don’t want to get your clothes washed downstairs, the supermarket Perekrostik, right at the back of the store, have a small laundry stall and it is much cheaper, 300 rubles for 5kg, both washing and drying. Clothes can be picked up the following day at 12pm. In terms of food, there are plenty of options. You have 2 supermarkets roughly 50 meters down the road on your left, and then crossing the road and passing the bus stop is another. Opposite the dorms you have Sberbank and a chemist. Behind those buildings is a burger shop, sushi restaurant, a pizza restaurant, and you also have a gym, Planeta Fitness located across these food shops. Gym membership is expensive however it is only a five minute walk from the dorms which is very convenient. The gyms have showers, a pool, spa, and a sauna. The showers are good when the hot water gets cut off in the dorms, which has happened before.

I was lucky to have witnessed my country Australia in the Confederations Cup here in Russia, and remember with the 2018 FIFA World Cup coming up, Russia is going to be one of the most popular places in the world during the month of June and the months leading up to it. If you are lucky enough to come during this time, be sure to book tickets early on, and join in all the festivities and events hosted in Saint Petersburg.

by Pierre Nouseir

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