The shorter the day, the longer the night – Чем короче день, тем дольше ночь – Je kürzer der Tag, desto länger die Nacht

As you may have guessed from the title, the days are getting ever shorter here in St. Petersburg. So this post is going to delve a little into the reality of living in a city where the sun hasn’t shone in many weeks. It’s not all greyness and it does get better, so stick with me.

So these shorter days are not helped by the constant blanket of cloud which covers the city. If anyone has ever lived in a country or city which doesn’t get sunlight for long periods of time, then you’ll know that living like this is actually pretty tiring and challenging. It can be pretty hard to pull together the motivation to keep on with the everyday task, because all you see when you look outside is grey cloud, grey pigeons, grey buildings and bare grey tree. Hence it has actually been quite a challenging few weeks.

What, you might ask, have I done to try to deal with it? well that’s what I can share with you. The things that have helped me to cope a little better with so much greyness.

  1. skyping and messaging my best friends

    I have some amazing friends, if they’re reading this then I hope that they know how amazing they are. I don’t think there has been a skype session where I haven’t felt better having talked even about random things.

  2. drawing and being a little creative

    this one is a big stress reliever. I brought a notebook with me to Russia, in which I draw and write all sort of creativity and being able to do that is a huge help. There is just something about taking a break from the hustle of the day and all the tasks that weighing down on me and taking a moment to just draw something and completely focus on that instead.

  3. meeting up people

    obviously if you are in a strange city and you don’t know anyone, then this one can be difficult. But I have been so fortunate to make some great friends here, and on difficult days it’s been great to meet them up and to just get work done together. Sometimes we don’t even talk that much because we’ve got homework to be doing and vocab to be learning, but to know that you have people that you can agree to meet up helps with forcing you to get out and about despite the grey weather.

  4. finding your comfort zone

    okay, this one has been tricky here in Russia, because I am almost always outside of my comfort zone, in that you always have to be ready for someone to speak to you in Russian, or that you might have to do something at short notice, or the thought that something might crop up is constantly there. However, if you can find places in whichever city you are in, where you know that if you go there, you’ll feel relaxed and you can have a clear head, whether that’s a cafe which is closer to home, or a space where you feel productive, or even just walking about the city and the metro with music in. Whatever works to make you relaxed and can then wonders for dealing with the gloominess of a grey day.

Wishing you all the best wherever you are, and I hope that the sun shines for you tomorrow, because when the sun shines and the sky is blue, everything just looks that little bit better.

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Loft Project Etagi – Husky Festival

Loft Project Etagi (Лофт Проект ЭТАЖИ) is an art space in the centre of St. Petersburg. There are a few eateries, every so often there are different exhibitions on the various floors, and it’s one of the few places here where you are able to legally able to walk around the roof top and view the skyline of the city.

Фестиваль Хаски – Saturday 12th November

Over the weekend there has been a “Husky Festival” happening at the Loft Project, and when I found out about this, I couldn’t resist going. It was a lot more crowded than I anticipated, but what do you expect when they have real huskies available for petting  ❤

For an entrance fee of 100 rubles you were given access to the exhibition, a postcard of a husky and little pieces of paper so that you could vote for your favourite husky picture.

picture of the white husky was my favourite
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I’m not you lapdog
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so fluffyyyy
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just majestic
such beautiful eyes!

I am so glad that I went to this event. What struck me was how the huskies were simultaneously so chill and calm, and so alert. Also, their fur is unbelievably soft and their eyes are just gorgeous!

My only suggestion for improvement. More huskies and less people.

Reading Week – Helsinki

Having had our hopes of travelling abroad during reading week diminished by the lack of returned passports, we were pleasantly surprised when they came back just in time for us to book a semi-spontaneous trip to Helsinki and then on to Tallinn.

Day 1 – St. Petersburg to Helsinki

I got up super duper early on Wednesday morning in order to make the 6.40am train to Helsinki.

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It meant getting on one of the first metros of the day, which was kind of strange. We arrived in Helsinki at around 9am Finnish time with the whole day ahead of us, but also with heavy rucksacks on our backs. And so obviously the first thing we did was get coffee and croissants. They’re just not the same in Russia. And it was a no brainer for me to order a chai latte at the first opportunity (my ultimate weakness).

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When we left the main station it had begun to snow pretty heavily so we walked around in the hope of finding somewhere warm and dry and interesting, which is when we stumbled across the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum.

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It’s a very interesting museum/gallery and had some thought provoking exhibits, such as an exhibition titled “After the Turmoil” http://www.kiasma.fi/en/exhibitions-events/meeri-koutaniemi-arman-alizad/ which brings to question how one moves on and carries on living a normal life after a traumatic upbringing or traumatic event occurs in their lives.

 

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Then, in an attempt to find the bus station to go to the hostel, we were blown around in the snow and sent around and around in circles by the signs, until we finally figured out that we needed to walk a distance from the actual central bus station, in order to find our bus stop. We were so glad to be able to collapse onto our beds in the hostel after such a chilly, snowy and busy day!

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And what would be more suited than finding the local Chinese cuisine and enjoying the authentic dishes for dinner. I went to bed content with tofu, satay sauce and jasmine tea in my stomach.

 

Day 2 – Helsinki

When we woke up on Thursday morning, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and we’d bought croissants the previous day so we were sorted for breakfast. It had snowed even more that night, and everything was coated in this layer of icing-like snow.

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After taking the bus a little way into town, we got off and upon seeing a cute stationary shop, we felt obliged to go in and pay them a visit.

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We then found our way to the Sibelius monument. We felt like children in the snow, because it was just so unbelievably beautiful.

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After admiring the monument for a suitable amount of time, we made our way towards the city centre, where we stumbled across the Finnish Museum of Natural History, not before pausing at another cute cafe for a delicious pecan and caramel cookie and of course, a chai latte again.

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If you’re ever in Helsinki, the museum is well worth a visit. Admittedly all of the information is in Finnish and Swedish, so we didn’t really understand anything, but it is still impressive! And I did learn one thing because someone kindly translated what was written about the now extinct “sea cow”.

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fancy staircase
Sea Cow
Furuhjelm’s Sea Cow – One of the most complete skeletons of the extinct Stellar’s sea cow

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After that museum we took a walk around the city, and looked at the various points of interest, and after much walking and walking we found a delicious sushi restaurant. Safe to say that day two was a good day.

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Day 3 – Helsinki…

As it was our last day in Helsinki, we had to be checked out by eleven, meaning that we carried around our luggage for the whole day, but it was nonetheless a good day. We spent the time we had left in Helsinki walking around, looking at buildings that we hadn’t seen before, and then we made our way to the ferry terminal, not before finding some cool graffiti!!!

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So that’s all for Helsinki, my top five suggestions or tips if you’re going to be visiting Helsinki are:

  1. Figure out how the public transport system works either before you go or as soon as you get there – there is a transport office in the basement of the main station with lots of information leaflets.
  2. The Finnish Museum of Natural History – you won’t be disappointed.
  3. Walking around the city is great for orientating yourself, and you see so much more than getting the bus everywhere
  4. When you’re in a cafe with WiFi, check your route to your next destination and make all of the screenshots, because the WiFi in a lot of the shopping malls doesn’t work.
  5. If you’re a student, ask if they have a student discount for items, because we were told a bit too late that a lot of places do really good discounts for students, so it’s worth an ask.

The next installment will be about Tallinn! It is so beautiful there and I can’t wait to share with you the pictures from the Old Town.