Nearly 25 years ago I visited Russia for the first time. Of course then it was still called the Soviet Union and its second largest city was still called Leningrad. I traveled with a group of students sponsored by the organization ACTR and we stayed in the dormitory for foreigners on ul. Plekhanova, d. 6. It was a time of new experiences, frustrations, and insights. What followed that first introduction to Russian life was nearly 20 years involvement in Russian life and language. I’ve lived on both coasts, and traveled nearly the entire length of the Trans-Siberian, and visited many of the former Soviet republics.
In the summer of 2015 I found myself back in St. Petersburg, and either ironically or appropriately, in the same dormitory that housed me so many years ago. It was both a trip back in time and forward into the contemporary Russia that exists in that same place. I was once again traveling under the auspices of the ACTR organization, but this time on a Fullbright-Hays fellowship for K-12 teachers of Russian.
My study abroad program there lead to further study. I’m working towards certification as an Oral Proficiency Interviewer and high school certification with endorsements in World Language and ELL. So the teacher turned student will remain a student for awhile yet. The name of this blog – piterdreaming – is a reference to the slang name for St. Petersburg — “Piter,” the place where I returned to my student roots.