One thing I was looking forward to the most while studying abroad in Russia was the opportunity to travel to other cities in Russia. At the end of February, I went with a few friends to Murmansk. Murmansk is a city in the northwestern part of Russia and is the most populated city north of the arctic circle.
We decided on going to Murmansk because we wanted to see the northern lights and go ice-fishing. Traveling to Murmansk was an amazing cultural experience for me, but it also came with some struggles and some unexpected incidents as well. The first struggle was that we arrived too early to check-in at the hostel we were staying at so we went off to explore the surrounding area. When we got back to the hostel we had a realization. We struggled to remember if the woman at the hostel said to come back at 1:00 pm or come back in an hour. Once we realized we had misunderstood her and had more time to kill we went further into the center of the city and we all quickly realized we were not wearing the most appropriate shoes. It snows so much that they don’t bother shoveling and laying down salt, so all of us were slipping and sliding while walking across what felt more like an ice rink than a sidewalk. The entire weekend was overcast, so our plans and hopes of seeing the northern lights were quickly quashed.
The first night we walked 30 minutes to a restaurant only to learn that they were full, so we ended up at the next restaurant we could find which was a very fancy restaurant we felt underdressed for. Even though it was fancier and more expensive than we hoped it was some of the best food I have ever eaten. Things quickly turned around as the next day was our big ice fishing trip. In the morning I thought there was going to be another day full of mishaps when the van got stuck in a patch of ice on our way there. But with everyone getting out of the car and pushing we were able to get the van unstuck, but not without at least one person slipping and falling on ice in the process. We were out on the ice for four hours and managed to catch two fish between the five of us. We ended up stopping at our guide’s favorite place to eat for lunch and before we headed back to our hostel where we gutted, cleaned and cooked the fish we had caught into a lovely meal. Overall the trip to Murmansk was a very rewarding cultural experience. We got a look at a different part of Russia than you don’t see in a big city like St. Petersburg.
By: Shayna Cohen
Program: Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program, St. Petersburg, Russia
Term: Spring 2020