A week has passed since I have first arrived here in St. Petersburg - its unbelievable where the time goes! My impression so far of the city is that it is very very old - an obvious statement, but it really has not changed at all since it was first built over 200 years ago! The government has, for the most part, denied the construction of any modern architecture in the city so if you can ignore the many cars caught up in traffic jams, you can easily imagine yourself going back in time!
St. Petersburg was once the capital of Russia at a time when it was run by a monarchy. Almost every building in the city was either palace or royal quarters home to a Tsar, nobleman, high ranked military officer, or anyone with lots of money. Now in place of those prestigious individuals resides universities, banks, fast food chains, electronic shops, and so on! It is sort of odd to see a Burger King inside a building designed for royalty - I still don’t consider the “King of Burgers” royalty.
I am currently living at a student dormitory belonging to the University of Aerospace Instrumentation and I am quite happy with the quarters they have set me up in. I have a large two person bedroom to myself which is fully equipped with a fridge, teapot, and two rather uncomfortable beds - I stacked the mattresses for extra comfort. There is also a cafeteria open 12 hours a day in the lobby, similar to the rez cafes at Western, which offers the finest Russian food at the most modest of prices! Right around the corner from the building is a fully equipped gym, Loblaws style grocery store, and shopping mall with theatre and bowling alley! Its easy to find all the comforts and discomforts of student living here which I am used to at Western.
Overall, my first week has been quite enjoyable! I have spent a lot of time getting to know my surroundings and understanding the do’s and don’t’s of living in a large Russian city. Next week I will be starting Russian language classes and beginning to learn about some of the engineering principles they teach at the University here.