Monday, June 16, 2008

The Full Russian Experience

By Ryan Chapman

When I first boarded the plane to go to Russia, my mind spaced with thoughts of the villain from the new Indiana Jones movie slicing a soviet Sickle and Hammer into my chest with her sword. Not exactly, but I was completely clueless as to what awaited me. After spending a day and a half at airports dealing with layovers and intercontinental flights, I was quite relieved when I finally arrived in St. Petersburg.

The first two days consisted of tours around St. Petersburg. The sights I saw were unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. The architecture was so elaborate and beautiful, nothing I had seen in America could compare. One day I spent 15 min just staring at a building that housed a Pizza Hut, because the elaborate carvings in the building were so unlike anything I was used to.

The most impressive things I have seen so far were some of the churches. As I wonder throughout St. Isaac’s Cathedral I think back to reading the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, wishing I were able to interpret the countless carvings, pictures and elaborate ceilings into some grand conspiracy theory about the origins of religion. Unfortunately, I can’t. I’m a Physics major and know little of art history.

The breathtaking cathedrals may be wonderful, but the breathtaking women of Russia have the upper hand. The Russian people are amazingly beautiful. The style of clothing here is quite unlike anything I have experienced in America. One interesting thing I have noticed is about 30 percent of the Russian men I have seen have mullets — quite strange. Some of the students and I play a game called Count the Mullets, where we sit back on the Metro and count how many mullets we see on our way to downtown. We got 34 yesterday!

Tomorrow, I go on my first Russian date. I wanted to partake in every possible thing I could here in Russia, from day long tours to trying Russian food and from going to operas to going out on a date with a girl who speaks no English. It should be fun. I’m brining a translator to help keep things interesting.

Of course, Russia isn’t all pleasure. I did come here to take a class, RUSS 1001: Beginning Language. So far the class is kicking my butt! Russian language condensed into 12 class days is not an easy task, but at least it is just 12 class days!

So far I have been in Russia 11 days and already know I will not have enough time to fully learn the culture and explore all of St. Petersburg. What I do know is that I will try to utilize every day I can to go get enveloped culture and live this once in a lifetime experience to the fullest.

1 comment:

Asuka said...

Wow what beautiful pics. I envy your trip it must have been so enriching.