by Natalie Perry
On most people’s list of places to see before they die, Russia usually doesn’t find its way to number one. So why did I choose this country to study abroad in for nine months? Well, besides the fact that I am a Slavic Language & Literature major, this country is just too beautiful to miss! Over the course of two semesters, I had the opportunity to travel the length of western Russia (over 1500 miles), witness harsh winter to tropical summer, and see a different part of the Russian culture in every city that we stopped in or rode through.
The thing is, Russia is big. I mean, it’s the largest country in the world. Russia has everything from mountains to beaches, from snow to sunshine. When I first arrived in St. Petersburg in August 2012, the weather was in the high 70s and the sun was shining.
Fall is more of a rainy time in Russia and quite dreary, as the sun begins to set earlier and earlier. At one point, I was waking up and going to class in the dark – and it didn’t get lighter until about 11am. But every step in the dark toward class is worth the springtime in St. Petersburg, when the white nights start to show their smiles. By May, the sun was coming up at 5am and it hadn’t even set until midnight or after! In June and July there are 24 hours of daylight (white nights). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this full on, as we left mid-May!
In late April, our group travelled south to Sochi, where the winter Olympics in February will be. It is already considered summer in April and it was 85+ degrees. We hiked and swam in waterfalls, not to mention riding the train toward the city when we arrived and seeing dolphins swimming in the Black Sea from our train window.
One things that also blew me away was the architectural beauty in every church in Russia. There are so many breath-taking churches throughout Russia, even someone non-religious can appreciate it. The colors and forms leave you awe-struck, standing in front of them, snapping a million photos.
Not knowing any Russian language may make it hard to study abroad in Russia, but even with beginner level classes at KU, you can definitely enjoy Russia and see her beauty. I promise that it’s totally worth it.