First and foremost I would like to apologize for my lack of posting over the past few weeks, basically I had settled into a rhythm of everyday life and nothing earthshatteringly different from things I had already posted was happening, for me it was very interesting but would just be repetitive to people reading.
But I now have more things to write about =D
Russia Day 1.
On Thursday the 31st of March I got on a bus with 30 odd other exchange students bound for St. Petersburg, Russia. It was amazing to see some of the other Aussies from Karkku (language camp from 1st week in Finland) and also to meet my oldies (exchangies that have been here 6 months longer than me). Had lunch on the Finnish side of the border where we were joined by the other 2 buses of exchange students (97 of us in total not counting ROTEX and Rotary members who were there to supervise us) then we were on our way to St. Petersburg, I was so excited.
Crossing the border went quicker than expected, all the Russians working on the border had the cylinder fur hats and for the first few hours in Russia we all thought that every Russian always wore one of these all the time but those dreams were crushed once we reached St. Petersburg.
First Impressions: I have never been in a city anything like St. Petersburg. The arcitecture is amazing, so different from anything in Australia I swear I took 50 or more photos of buildings as they passed us in the bus ahaha. The drivers in the city are a bit insane, cars pulling out or in where ever they want and there was no markings on the road so personally I was confused as to who was supposed to be driving where, I had to force myself to switch off what I call my 'driving brain' and just trusted that the bus driver knew what he was doing. Haven't been anywhere that has so many statues, almost every block there was another huge statue dedicated to Catherine the Great or any other respective person who influenced the city in any way.
The hotel was nice in the lobby and dining area, it was strange to see people smoking inside in a public place, my first thought was they were rebelling against 'the man' but then I remembered 'I'm in Russia, they have different rules!' haha Nadja (who lives in Kotka as well) was my room mate for this trip, it was good because although we live in the same town we hadn't had much time to get to know each other, so it was good :)