To be absolutely honest, I’m a little bit terrible at writing without fixed deadlines. When the only one checking up on you is you, it’s all to easy to come up with excuses to put off writing until a later day .
Thus it has come to pass that, despite being well into my second week of life in St Petersburg, I still haven’t written anything here. Better late than never though…
My first twelve days here have been rather busy. Of course it’s only to be expected that starting a new job and looking for a flat at the same time would make for a rather full schedule, but I must admit that I underestimated just how much of an impact looking for accommodation would have. I wouldn’t mind the extra hours I’ve had to put into my search if it impacted the outcome in a favourable way, but alas, in comparison with my experience of flat-hunting in Moscow, where I managed to get four flat viewings and a signed contract within 10 days, my luck in St Petersburg seems to have been considerably worse. Here, despite having made too many phone calls to count and having received and responded to so many emails advertising different apartments that my inbox and spam folder are practical indistinguishable, I’ve only managed two viewings and a prolonged stay in my temporary lodgings.
Beyond the flat hunt things are going much better. The weather here, for example, is, for me at least, wonderful. Not since my childhood can I remember having decent amounts of snow in December. Add to this the freezing over of St Petersburg’s many rivers and the appearance of Christmas* decorations in a growing number of stores, and you get an atmosphere that is making me feel rather festive. Today I started on the advent calendar I brought with me from home and I even managed to find myself a miniature Christmas tree to sit on my desk and make things look even more seasonal. I am missing the Christmas songs I’d be hearing in Britain, however. I’ve got my own playlist of them but it lacks the Christmas magic of being able change track just by walking out of one shop and into another.**
For the moment, with so little free time on my plate, I’ll hold off on translating my posts. But as soon as my weekends are back under my own control some Russian will start appearing here along with a few pictures of snowy St Pete’s.
*Technically they’re New Year’s decorations. In Russia, tinsel, trees and twinkly lights are all part of New Year’s celebrations. Christmas trees, along with other customs associated with Christmas and other religious celebration, were campaigned against in the early years of the Soviet Union before being rehabilitated through attachment to a secular holiday, New Year. (It’s worth noting too that Christmas trees were also once banned in Russia prior to the rise of the Soviet State. In 1914 the Holy Synod, which led the Russian Orthodox Church, was motivated to ban the German tradition of erecting and decorating Christmas trees out of hostility to anything linked to Russia’s First World War adversary).
** The playlist does have the benefit of ensuring that every second song I hear is NOT “All I want for Christmas” however.