As much as abroad is about traveling to new places and experiencing new, wonderful things, it's important to realize that every place you visit will not be your new favorite destination. For my programs second week long excursion we traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia. I undoubtedly saw impressive architecture, learned of a deep history and experienced a unique environment, but I also reentered winter (it was snowing significantly when we arrived and on several mornings) and ate the same mayonnaise covered foods for a week. But hey - that's Russia for you. A word to the wise - borsch and Russian salad are a reality of every meal. Despite the dietary and meteorological challenges, here are some of the highlights of this educational excursion.
This former palace will be recognizable to any person that watched Anastasia as a child. The exterior is covers it a distinct green plaster and the interior is covered with even more impressive paintings and sculptures. Among the treasures of this collection are two completed Michelangelo's, a Rafael sculpture and a recently destroyed painting that was thought to be lost forever from a vicious stack with acid. Absolutely worth your time. Even if you don't enjoy art, the walls of the rooms are still ornately decorated from its time as the Winter Palace.
For those who enjoy contemporary art, interactive exhibits, or things off the beaten track this is the place to go. It's a bit out of the way but the large exhibit - including five floors of permanent and five floors of temporary exhibitions - is a unique approach to curating a museum as well as introduces you to more Russian artists than Kandinsky.
The Mariinsky Ballet is Russia's second most prestigious company, after the Moscow Ballet. It was a wonderful surprise for me that we were going to a performance while in Russia, especially as a dance major. This is definitely an event worth seeing, not only to experience the Russian style ballet in its native land, but for the beauty and experience of a classic performance art.