This is a post to let you know, dear reader, that I am, in fact, going to school.
This is my campus:
The building at front is Smolny Cathedral, and its surrounding campus was supposed to be convent at its 18th-century opening. However, after some royal shuffling, Catherine II decided against baroque architecture (despite its architect’s other projects: the Winter Palace, Peterhof and Pushkin). Eighty years later — ca. 1835 — it was consecrated. Less than a century passed before Soviet authorities closed the building in 1923. It decayed until someone, in 1982, decided it could be a nice concert hall.
In the meantime, Leningrad State University adopted the convent as a satellite campus. Now it hosts Political Science, Sociology and International Relations students from St. Petersburg State University — which includes, of course, me. Lunch in our cafeteria costs, on average, $2.50. Smolny is a 25-minute walk from the nearest metro station; because St. Petersburg is all about transit-oriented development, that means it’s also 15 minutes from a single restaurant, coffee shop or bookstore. My commute is about 2.5 miles; 50 minutes walking, 40 by bus. My Weather widget says this week’s high temperature is 48 degrees F. The city hasn’t turned on central heating yet, and it’s actually colder inside the building than outside in the park.
The university is about as big as my U.S. school — 32,000 students (28,000 undergrads, 5,000 grad students; USC has 17,000 and 20,000, respectively) — but most of them study on the original campus on Vasilievsky Island. Peter the Great decreed construction there for his Academy of Sciences, opened 1724. The associated university has been in continuous operation since 1819. There’s a bit of an argument in town, though, about whether we predate Moscow State University as Russia’s oldest: If 1724 is our founding date, then yes; if 1819, no. The Russian state, as it is wont to do, has vacillated, but currently says that yes, Moscow was first.
Famous alums: Dmitry Medvedev, Ivan Pavlov, Ayn Rand, Joseph Brodsky and Vladimir Putin.
My classes: Russian (grammar, conversation and phonetics), Ethnic Studies, Russian Fairy Tales and Russian History.
Number of vocabulary words I need to memorize tonight (I’m behind, but not by much): 182.
Until next time, travelers.