We Came, We Studied, We Conquered

It’s been more than two weeks in Saint Petersburg now, and our time at HSE has come to its end. I can’t believe our last day of classes was today, but here we are; it’s Friday and we’re free. I don’t want to forget some of the ‘mundane’ parts of our daily life here, so a couple of these picture slides may seem boring. They’re a big part of my memories of Russia though, so bear with me. We started the final day with a classic mix of каша (kasha) and syrniki, which were as good as ever. Our lovely lady who gives us the food was also feeling pretty twirly this morning, which was just fantastic. She’s been more sassy with us these past few days, and I’m definitely going to miss her cheerful morning greetings.

 

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The only class we had today was on Russian empire, with us just going through semi-contemporary ideas on statehood, maintaining empire and the turning points that lead to the downfall of Russia’s imperial reign. Then it was time for some discussion that the professor’s have been dying for – a class sum-up, lingering questions, approaches to teaching . . . all that jazz. What was interesting was the fact that Sergei and Alexander both were leading the course, and while I’ve had them back to back I’ve never really seen them interact. There was a lot of humorous tension going down since Alexander basically raised history above all before we got into everything, which kept sparking more-than-brief debates in english with a bit of Russian over that or related things. It was a long but fun session with them.

When we went in for our last HSE meal at lunchtime, we made a fair trade with our beloved lady. While she was trying to serve out our food we (Kathryn, Lydia, Agnes and I) presented her with gifts in form of a card, an origami crane and a few boxes of chocolate for her and her partner-in-crime. She honestly started crying and came to hug all of us, and that alone lit up my day. I feel like these people, the ones behind the scene or in less prominent service jobs, never get recognized for their lovely hard work so I think it really made her happy. Which I’m glad about, because she (and people like her in these roles) are crucial and wonderful and deserve recognition.

After we all made it through the hugs and happiness, the last lunch went down. I had my usual beet salad, carrots/cabbage/potato heap, some sauerkraut and mystery soup. Also a potato pirozki, because dang are those good. When I finished and was leaving the cafeteria with Agnes we thanked her again, and she not only hugged us real tight but told us to ‘come back to Russia, come back and see me!’ and damn, I would love to because what a wonderful lady.

Below are some shots from the route home, which aren’t quality but are memorable.

 

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We got back to the hostel with just over 3 hours to kill, which mean excursion time! Off for 16рубль donuts, tested by Lyric and soon to be tested by the rest of us. On the way there were got to admire the mostly frozen Neva, and an interesting sculpture we could read but not understand (damn would a language class have been nice). After some backstreet maneuvering over there Agnes, Lyric, Kate and I were there and ready to buy. I started out with two for me and a few for people who wanted them, then had to cycle back into the line because damn were those good. I ended up having 4 before dinner, which was questionable but worth the goodness. I also brought some back for the room, who all loved them. Very grateful I got to try them, and here’s hoping I can recreate them if I try. Mhmmm were they good!

 

Here’s Kathryn and Lydia enjoying said donuts in the kitchen.

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We all went to dinner at Петруша (Petrusha), a swanky place with traditional Russian cuisine. It turned out to be a really nice place (despite Evgeny’s warning of a subpar dinner), and the vegetarian options were wildly different compared to other places. No dill-covered plate of chopped potatoes here!! Okay, this is where I pass out and promise to finish this soon, so thanks for reading all of this and please visit back when update and link about it in a future post!

Our yummy food.

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