I am still trying to figure out how to write a blog. My favorite form of travel writing is when people write short anecdotes and somehow string them all together, rather than a simple rundown of my daily activities. So, please forgive the sporadic manner that this blog is written in as I am still learning how to write how it.
Classes are going well, my professors are very good, and nice as well. My professor for CMU (a class where we learn how to read the news and all the specific terminology associated with it) is, while friendly, very intimidating and everytime she asks me to say something I turn into a stammering mess to the point where saying my name is an arduous task. My home stay is still going well, I am still trying to figure out the balance to being social and friendly while, still giving my host family their space. My host mom is always quick to offer me tea, cookies, and toast with jam while asking me how my day went.

This past weekend was relaxing and felt like a very idyllic European weekend. When the sun comes out and rain takes a momentary break, it seems that all of Petersburg comes out. This past Sunday, I, along with the rest of Petersburg took advantage of the good weather and finally went to explore the cultural sites of the city. The Church of Spilled Blood is indescribably beautiful on the inside, while I snapped a few photos none do justice to the Church’s interior justice. The Russian Museum is equally impressive.  Like an art museum, multiple trips are necessary in order to appreciate and see everything in the museum and while after an two hours of wandering a lot of paintings start to blend together an artist that stood out was Pavel Filonov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavel_Filonov). Other paintings by various artists that struck me were those depicting the Blockade of Leningrad (now St. Petesrburg). During WWII The German army surrounded Leningrad from 1941-1944—this siege resulted in the death of over 1,500,000 Russians. It is strange and surreal to see paintings depicting areas and streets that I see everyday as scenes of horror and destruction, and even more unsettling to know that this occurred only seventy years ago.

Despite living in the city, I manage to run into people I know. After sitting through six hours of classes, I decided to walk around my neighborhood and take advantage of the sunshine. Out of luck, I ended up running into one of my classmates and we went to a thrift store where she volunteers. As with most Russian people I have met, the people who work there are friendly, and happy to have an extra hand sorting out donations. After sorting through a few piles of clothes they offered my friend and I tea, as is in typical in almost every social situation in Russia (Would you like tea, or “хочешь чаю” is a question I am asked daily, and almost always answer with да and an enthusiastic nod). While I spent most of time simply listening to the conversation, it was nice to be able to learn more about the language and culture somewhere other than the classroom or a museum. While I am living in Russia, all of my classes are with other American students, putting the responsibility on the student to go out and get involved.  For me this takes a substantial amount of prodding, but I am hoping to get involved with a few NGO groups here, and volunteer at the thrift store.


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