My first day back at school started well after I finally got a decent night sleep. Swapped the morning shower for a catwash given there is no hot water in the district for another week (happens often in St pete center in summer under the banner of maintenance). It was a warm day again (after a miserable summer so far this year i am told) and a short 15min walk to my school – the Dershavin institute on Troitskiy prospect.
By 8.45 I had registered and did my oral placement test. They put me in the elementary level class, which is the second lowest. According to their schedule it would take me 48 weeks @ 25h weekly to make the top level. Well, I got 5 to make some progress. The class is full. 10 people in the morning/midday sessions and 5 in the afternoon/intensive course. Many students are younger, some older (namely a German & Australian lady). Overall I felt very comfortable to speak and not afraid to make (inevitable) mistakes. Time will tell how quickly i can improve.
After school we had a brief orientation walk in the area, which I used to obtain my local SIM card. Cheap (600RUB or 9EUR/month for 16GB & 500min) and swift. Just show passport and all is done in 10mins.
For the evening Katya & Hadley had invited me over for BBQ. First time I met their one month old son Max who kept the young parents busy, but showed some sympathy when we had dinner and went off to dreamland. They reside in a very nice villa in the Northern suburbs of the city literally on the seaside (gulf of finland). Quite a bit to go from the center, but a painless experience by metro & overground (and a quick cab ride when there is no traffic). Citymapper is a most helpful app and the journey gave me plenty of time to complete my homework (i needed it). We chatted for quite a while, had loads of meat (i ate for two having not had lunch today) and I got some more insights about my upcoming work exerience at their biggest farm in Issad. They seem as excited about this as i am. Lets see what ‘surprises’ they have up their sleeve ;o)
What a great evening. Just a relaxed time with two great friends. How things have changed. It seems only yesterday that I visited Russia together with Katya when we wrote research together at KBW back in 2011 i think. Time flies.
Now its almost 1am, but the city is very much alive. Its still not really dark (white nights) and many people hang out on the embankments probably some waiting for the beautiful bridges to open and many probably cherishing the short summer season (also the city doesnt really start working before 9/10am …). One actually needs to know the opening hours well especially if you live on one of the islands – many have gotten stuck as their is no transport off the islands after about 2am given the metro is closed from midnight and there are no ferries (well, unless you fancy a swim that is).