This trip for my internship was the first time I traveled to Russia, and let's just say, you don't know what's culture shock till you're living there. Your notions of life as you know it, is about to change.
Initially, when you first land in Russia (I was living in St.Petersburg), you're not able to stop smiling - finally, you're in Russia. The country you've only heard so much about. Then, you start noticing, people shooting you strange looks. Yes, that is because you were smiling like an idiot at strangers. Yes, indeed, smile there is a privilege. Russians don't smile much in general as a rule. But once you get to know Russians personally you'll find them to be warm and very friendly. They say if you make friends with a Russian, this frindship will last forever!
Next, there are lots of stereotypes about Russia and one very strong is an image of them being alcoholics who just LOVE their vodka. Haha, nope. They're more in love with their teas. You're sure to be offered tea in every house you visit. And by the way, this is a part of their culture to make visits to their friend's houses, sometimes even without the invitation, which I find very nice and touchy. Still, just to warn you about vodka -if you have it with a bunch of Russians, which is of course a part of experience, don't embarrass yourself by mixing it with coke or sprite or whatever (wish I knew that then!).
Generally, I enjoyed my time in St.Petersburg, a cultural and student capital of Russia! The pace of life in Moscow is too fast. People there walk with determination and they always look busy. Moscow is incredibly expensive whereas St. Petersburg is much more touristy and therefore, easier on your pockets. What I liked in both cities and what differs from Europeans youth dresscode, they are always impeccably dressed. Smartly, suited and booted.
Russian cuisine is amazing and I never had problems with finding where to eat. There are lots of places for different budgets and the variety of possibilities simply impress. They are not fans of snacks and you can find normal hot food everywhere. Business lunches are very cheap. The only one important advise: please, avoid kebabs as a street food! They are of a very low quality. If you want kebab, better enjoy it in a cafe. If you want a snack, check out "glow subs" that's a lot like subway only much cheaper and another joint is kartoshka (it means potato) which is jacket potatoes with lots of fillings. Try varenikki as well, pelmeni, solyanka and borsch! Another thing, there's no free water in Russia. Yep, you'll have to pay for water when eating out. And water there, is of many kinds. Still, sparkling, fruit flavored.
Internship itself and ProfIntern was amazing! When I applied for the program I of course had lots of expectations, but I could not believe it will be so usefull, authentic and perspective. I learned a lot of new things about work of museums and cultural organizations, gained new skills in management, met lots of new frieds and of course immerced in Russian culture. Time passed by very fast and I wish I could spend there another 3 months!
Have a great time in Russia! You've successfully made me reminisce all my Russian memories.
You're gonna be fine there. Have fun :)