Unfortunately, last Sunday was the last day of the incredibly amazing weather here. A sharp 15 degree (Fahrenheit) drop made that very clear on Monday morning. Luckily, Sasha had the great idea of heading to Kranshtadt, a small island on the north end of Petersburg, for the day. The only thing to see there is this church that just recently celebrated its 100th birthday! This church is the naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas (the saint that watches overs sailors and the seas). It is absolutely beautiful! Here are some photos from the excursion 🙂

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Everyone who knows me well knows that I turn into a five-year old child when it comes to needles. Blood tests, shots, i.v’s: I hate them all. So, when I was told upon arriving that I would have to take a second HIV test to get my visa extension, I was shaken to say the least. I avoided it as long as I could, but without my visa extension I cannot stay in the country longer than 90 days. (Just a note, Russia requires HIV tests for anyone staying longer than 90 days because there is an incredibly high rate of HIV in the general population and this is a way to stop new cases from entering the country.) Anyways, last week I finally went to get it done. Joined by three other girls from the university we went into an invitro fertilization clinic (of course) to get our blood drawn. Walking through a room of pregnant women, the four foreigners trekked to the back office to sign up and pay. When it was my turn I took my friend Sara into the room and told the nurse that I was very scared and nervous. The entire time I hyperventilated, and the nurse stared at me like I was crazy (what a great experience this was). Needless to say, when I went back for my results both the nurse and the reception laughed at me. Germans say (at least this one German I know told me this :)) that shared pain is half the pain. Maybe since there are 4 of us it was 1/4 of the pain? I would like to think so 🙂 I promise to try and put a new post up once a week
(Here is a photo of all of our arms post-blood draw)

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On Sunday I finally moved to my new apartment! This means that more often than not I am by myself, and I really don’t like this. On the plus side, I am now within walking distance to my university and live in such a beautiful part of Saint-Petersburg!! My host sister and brother from my previous apartment were kind enough to bring me and all of my things to my new apartment and help me get settled. We then decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and head out to the suburbs of southern Saint- Petersburg, better known as Pavlovsk and Pushkin. Pushkin is the place where Catherine the Great had her summer palace, and it is absolutely beautiful!! The park in the area is so nice. I am still figuring out how to insert pictures so for now they will be at the bottom of the post. After Pushkin, Sasha (in the photo with me) invited me to Pavlovsk with two of her friends. This park is also very pretty and we were able to rent a small boat and row around the lake a bit. Her friends were nice enough to drop me back at my place at the end of the night and I really had so much fun spending the day with them 🙂

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In Russian class, I was always taught that if a Russian offers you something it is best to say yes. I learned quickly that even if you say no, you will eventually be eating or drinking whatever you were offered. You might be thinking, why would this be a problem? Well when you’re like me, you choose to say yes to everything out of politeness and don’t make a fuss about it. As I am currently a guest at someone’s apartment, I feel an obligation to take what is given to me with a smile. An example of when it might have been best to say no is the first day I arrived. After an incredibly rough day (think constantly throwing up on a 10 hour flight), my host picked me up at the airport and we continued to drive two hours to get to the apartment. When I arrived I was offered some soup, which I gladly took. Then I heard something about language (I would like to make note that the word for tongue is the same word for language). So I said yes, my language is good. Out comes an entire cow tongue. Yes, I ate cow tongue slices on an incredibly uneasy stomach with a smile on my face. Another example is last night. I was eating some cheese slices and my host mom gave me some bread to eat them with. This bread smelled kinda funny to me (think nail polish and acetone), but I decided to just eat it anyway. Then my host sister took a slice and made a face and said, “this smells like acetone!!” She then turned to me and said, “hell why are you eating this??!” I just laughed and said that it did indeed smell kinda funny. Turns out the bread was rotten. Go me. Politeness, I hope you didn’t make me sick.

So much has happened in that past year and a half! I am now a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and have now officially traveled through some of Western Europe (thank you, Dad!). As the title of this post implies, I am back in St. Petersburg!!! I sort of can’t believe it, but I can honestly say I’m so happy to be back. I have returned to study at European University and attempt to receive my master’s in Russian and Eurasian studies (this is an attempt because I never guarantee success!!) I cannot say thank you enough to all the people who helped me along the way to get to this point, especially friends, family, and teachers (most notably, the great MV). A big shout out to Meg Cahill who sat through multiple bouts of hyperventilation when I didn’t know what my next step was. Though I know graduate school will be difficult, I’m just happy that I can keep studying Russian in Russia. Who knows what will come of this adventure 🙂 if anyone has questions, please feel free to write them in the comments section! I am keeping a journal and will be transferring those stories into the blog once u have photos to accompany them !
Much love,
Isa

A couple of weeks ago a few of my friends went to this place where you dine in complete darkness. Intrigued, Ainsley made arrangements for me and a group of our friends to go and boy was it interesting.  The gist of the restaurant is that in complete darkness the rest of your senses are heightened.  The waiters in the restaurant are blind and guide you through a padded room to your table.  You pre-pick your menu, but only choose an option. For example, I chose the complete surprise, which means I had no idea what would be on my plate.  The other options were vegetarian, meat, and seafood.  These were only general categories and we had no idea what was to come. 

I remember being in shock at how dark the room was.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but the enveloping darkness was a big transition.  Then serving drinks was another experience all together.  I remembered seeing in a movie that I should put my finger in my cup to not overfill it and it worked perfectly.  Then came the food, Ainsley ordered the part with the appetizer while I just ordered the main meal and dessert.  Maybe I got too into it, but when Ainsley said she wanted me to taste a few things for her before she ate them, I was more than up for it! Needless to say there was a lot of hand usage instead of utensils and a lot of laughter as we tried to figure out what was on our plates.  I thought Ainsley passed me a mozzarella ball so I ate it all and continued to eat my meal, which I though consisted of steak…at the end of the meal we were shown what we actually ate

here it goes 

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Lets start with appetizing dessert! this was so so yummy 🙂 it had mango!!!! In Russia:)Image

Then yummy main course.  I’m sorry duck, I thought you were steak, I promise.

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and then…the appetizer dun dun dun…Snail you tasted like mozzarella 

 

 

 

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I know I disappeared, but all for good reason! I went down to Sochi for a springbreak-ish type trip and have at last returned to my wonderful Piter! Updates to follow within the next week!

Love and miss everyone back home<3 only 10 more days!