Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Break in Russia

SPRING 2012
Elections

Study Abroad students visited Moscow right when presidential elections were taking place Mr Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister, won nearly 64% of the vote. However, Golos, a leading independent election watchdog, said the polls could not be considered fair and open. Thousands of Russians streamed through metal detectors for hours, past camouflaged trucks and under the whirring blades of a helicopter, to join a mass protest against Vladimir Putin's official return to the Kremlin.
Russian police and soldiers gather during the election in Moscow. Photo: Dmitry Kostyukov/The New York Times
In the expectance of protests, the Kremlin deployed around 12,000 police and an extra 6,300 interior ministry troops around the capital. To the 20,000 people who turned out for the protest, Putin wasn't a president, but a tsar. "These weren't presidential elections – it was a succession to the throne," read one large sign held high above protesters' heads.
Read more about it here.

Russian Sauna


At sauna. Photo here
Maddi: One of the highlights of Russia, for me, would have to have been the sauna. The saying, “Saving the best for last,” definitely applied here. I’m so glad that I decided participate. Honestly, at first I was a little skeptical about going to the sauna and was planning on taking advantage of the fact that it was optional. However, after being immersed in Russian food, culture, and entertainment for the past week, I figured that going to the sauna would be a great way to top off this trip. I was right! After a couple hours of repeatedly going back and forth between sauna and shower rooms, you feel the cleanest that you have ever felt in your life. Because of the detoxing and sweating, you are literally cleaning yourself from the inside out, so you also feel healthier. Participating in the sauna was a great way to end my time in Russia. Going to McDonalds afterwards wasn’t too bad either:) 

The ballet

The Swan Lake. Photo by Kristen
Erick: Our last night in St. Petersburg was spent at the Mariinsky Theatre where we saw the Russian Ballet preform Swan Lake. I have never seen a ballet in my life, but I knew that the Russian Ballet was no joke, and I was not disappointed, these artists are insane at what they do, it was really amazing and beautiful to watch. I’m super blessed to have be able to go to Russia for spring break, to be able to experience this city and culture.

The Hermitage museum

The Hermitage museum. Photo by Erick
Vinny: This was one of the highlights of my time in Russia. We spent an afternoon inside. There were rooms and rooms filled with works by Picasso, Cezanne, Michelangelo, Matisse, Bernini, van Gogh, Rembrandt, Rodin, Monet…as you can tell, I could go on and on. I have never felt more ridiculously overwhelmed in my life. It was so unreal. I really have no words to describe my time inside. I would go back in a heartbeat. Everyone should experience the Hermitage in his or her lifetime. An afternoon was not long enough; I could’ve spent days inside. It was such fun appreciating renowned art. It was painful walking toward the exit, but I made a promise to myself to come back someday!


4 comments:

  1. I'll be participating in Study Abroad Lithuania in Fall 2012, and all I can say is...wow. These stories and pictures are making me so excited.

    Also, did the election upheaval color the trip at all? Did you run into protests, closed-off areas, etc? Just curious.

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  2. The elections did definitely impact the trip, but we didn't run into too many protests. There were lots of police everywhere in Moscow and some public sights were closed due to protests, some Study Abroad students saw a couple of groups with signs protesting. Overall it was a really great time to be in Russia, but nothing too dramatic happened while we were there.

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