I’d be lying if I said I was happy when I first moved back. In fact, I was miserable. Russia was (is) harsh and grey and cold. I am not crazy about teaching and it seemed that all of my plans had dissolved once I got here. Schools weren’t emailing me back. Private students said they no longer needed to study. I was facing long days of no work and such frigid temperatures that venturing out to explore the city was not only unappealing but down right dangerous. I sent weepy emails to my family and second guessed my decision to move here. But then something incredible happened, Russia got fun.
I am quite the social creature, some may even call me a party animal, but I think that’s an unfair label. My social habits are much more nuanced than being the last girl at the party. I like to get out and mix it up. I thrive on meeting new people and having my finger on the pulse of any city I live in. For the past 3 months in Saint Petersburg, this has not been me. I would sit alone in my room and post on Facebook and read epic fantasy novels…I was one step away from logging into WOW. Then one night I got an e-mail from an acquaintance to join her at a Pub Quiz held by an English language newspaper here in the city, and everything changed.
I spent all day getting ready for the pub quiz. My classes for the day had been cancelled (surprise surprise) so I painted my nails, practiced some dance moves to Robyn, did my hair and shopped my closet. I was determined to leave that pub quiz with a dance card to make Caroline Astor jealous .
I arrived at the pub sans amis, wearing my bright red backpack to match my lipstick, and waited for Katie to arrive. Upon her arrival we posted up at the bar and began what would become a turning point in my Saint Petersburg social career. We drank Buds with American consulate security personnel, dodged advances of old Russian men and flirted with the quiz master. We drank way too much, ate way too little and laughed at an entirely inappropriate level. I left the bar in a state of dizzy social ecstasy and vowed that tomorrow I would change my attitude about Russia and start to make things happen! And oh how I did…
I nagged one of the schools I was supposed to teach for until I finally heard back; starting next week I will be leading a english conversation group for modern dancers four times a week while also working with the director to create a cross-cultural performance/video/traveling museum/we-aren’t-quite-sure-yet dance event. I was really bummed when this particular contact wasn’t responding to me as she is a great contact to have in the city. My brother is thinking of planning an event in Saint Petersburg for his brilliant production company CollaboNYC. And she would be the perfect person to help. Also, my dream job would be working for an N(GO) establishing cultural exchanges to facilitate foreign relation so teaching dancers and planning dance events is a dream. Needless to say I was ecstatic when she finally responded.
Next, I e-mailed the Hermitage and applied to be a volunteer ( I am stopping by tomorrow to discuss my duties and collect my ID card). I sent writing samples to the Saint Petersburg Times and am waiting to see if they have any writing opportunities for me. I joined a book club and finally signed up to attend a meeting with the International Women’s Club. I created an account with a really kooky LinkedIn-type social network for expats called InterNations where I have been “twinkled” twice, and signed up to take Russian lessons. And finally, maybe the most exciting of all my developments, I am moving into a new flat on Monday!
The apartment is amazing, centrally located and ridiculously big. We are calling it “the mansion.”
The front hall.
Our view– and its right next to the Stieglitz Museum
Living room/bedroom– #swagcouch. Turns into a bed.
Bedroom number 2:
And we live around the corner for this: