Why I chose Russia to launch my international teaching career
Today Mr Paul Curry from St. Petersburg campus shares his story of life and work in Russia. And as a bonus, he will give some tips on how to spend quality time in Russia’s “northern capital” for those who are planning to visit the city.
Why did I choose Russia? I have always had an interest in discovering what Russia was really like. So, back in 2011, when I made the decision to continue my career away from the UK, I fired off applications to a number of different places, and kept an open mind as to which one would appeal the most. From hazy memory, I applied to: Moscow, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Prague, Qatar, Dubai, and Mexico.
Choosing where to live (city/country) is just as important as the school where you will work. This is less so when in the UK where you are more driven by choosing the correct school, what with the familiarity of being in your home country. But when moving abroad, the city/country has to be right for you.
I was looking for a vibrant city with some home comforts and familiarity and for a first job abroad I was reluctant to go too far away from home – therefore Moscow and Prague became favourites.
Quickly, it was obvious that Moscow was the one that best suited to me. City-wise, the idea of moving to Moscow was too good to turn down, and in 2011 I moved there. The mix of vibrancy and history is what appeals to me in cities, and hence why I am now in St Petersburg where I move in 2012. There is a lovely mix of things that are familiar from back home, together with the uniqueness of what Russian cities offer.
As I have been living here for quite some time now, I already have the list of what I would recommend a tourist to do in St. Petersburg. So here we go!
Top 10 things to do in St. Petersburg:
1. Museums – St Petersburg isn’t short of museums and galleries, with the most famous being the legendary Hermitage. The city centre is overflowing with them, and all are much cheaper than equivalent places in other European cities.
2. Cathedrals – there are a number of extravagant, world-famous cathedrals around the city, each with their own distinctive look. From the St Basil’s Cathedral on Spilled Blood and the icy white-and-blue of Smolny to the gigantic golden dome of St Isaac’s and the gothic crescent of Kazan on Nevsky, these buildings dominate the relatively low St Petersburg skyline.
3. Theatres – the city has an abundance of theatres, including the majestic Marinskiy. The world’s leading performers visit St Petersburg every year, and taking in a show is to be encouraged.
4. River and canal cruises – St Petersburg is a port, and as such is built around its rivers and canals. The main River Neva and its many famous bridges are the starting point for a number of different cruises available during the summer months. You see the city from a very different perspective.
5. Nights out – there surely cannot be another city centre in Europe with a higher density of restaurants and bars than St Petersburg. Every taste is catered for, more so than in Moscow and other Russian cities, and for those expats craving a bit of home, dozens of Irish and English pubs are spread far and wide.
6. Shopping – the city centre has thousands of outlets for those who love to shop, with something to suit every wallet and purse big or small. Additionally, dozens of indoor shopping malls can be found, usually adjacent to Metro stations all over the city.
7. Sport – St Petersburg is a sporty city, whether watching or playing. The richest football club in Russia – Zenit – plays its home matches at the magnificent new Krestovsky Stadium, whilst the current KHL champions in hockey – SKA – can be watched at the Ice Palace. In winter, you can try cross-country skiing on the outskirts of the city.
8. Further afield – day trips from St Petersburg to nearby places of interest are easily possible all year round. Peterhof and Catherine Palace are two lavish stately homes accessible by local public transport, whilst the cities of Vyborg and Pskov offer interesting glimpses of history just a train ride away.
9. Photography – there are plenty of things that should be captured on camera to help retain memories of a truly magical city.: the entire city centre including Nevsky Prospekt; the city’s islands Peter and Paul; the white nights in June.
10. Walking trips are a great way to stumble across undiscovered gems in the city. It is harder to do between November and March but not impossible. One could get the Metro to a new station and plot a 5-8 mile route, different each day, to another Metro station.
Author: Paul Curry
Paul Curry is a UK-trained teacher who set off for adventure six years ago and found his right fit in CIS Russia, a British International School with campuses in Skolkovo, Festivalnaya and St Petersburg… and hasn’t looked back.
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