Justine in Russia: An Ordinary Day

Writing about my typical day feels very strange since I have less than three weeks left in my program and I am not looking forward to leaving this city in any way. However, I wanted to run through my typical day. I think I will talk about my Mondays.

08:00am – My host mom wakes me up every morning by knocking on my door and tells me my breakfast is ready. I get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, etc. I sit down with my host mom and she eats breakfast with me 80% of the time. Sometimes, she has the food prepared for me and waits for me to sit down at the table for her to tell me that she is going back to sleep. She interacts with me every morning whether it is for the entire meal or just before she goes back to sleep. My typical breakfast comes from this list

  • блины (Russian thin pancakes)
  • гречка (buckwheat, but generally referred to as каша)
  • мюсли (cereal, oats)
  • сырники (I don’t know how to translate this besides mini-cheese pancakes, generally sweet, but my host mom makes it without sugar and I thought these were potato pancakes for the longest time)

Classic breakfast (сырники со сметаной, cheese pancakes with sour cream). Сметана (sour cream) dominates the kitchen tables of Russian households. People put it on everything! When I say sour cream, it is a little different from the way we have it in the states. It is a less airy and has a different taste to it, too.

08:20am – After breakfast, I get dressed.

sometime between 08:30-08:45am – I leave my apartment. I take the bus to university and it is about a five minute walk from my front door. I always miss the bus by exactly ten seconds, but I am usually able to catch it at the next stop. The nice thing about Russian bus drivers are that, once they see you running after a bus, they will always wait for you. I have had many experiences where a bus driver in New York would see you trip and fall on the way to the bus, but they would still drive away. I am never late to school, but I like getting to school extremely early.


On the bus to school! Usually the bus is jam-packed, so it was strange for me to actually get a seat on the bus that day.

09:00am – Once I get off the 20-30 minute bus ride, I have to walk about 15 minutes to the university. The distance from the bus stop to the university is about 10 minutes, but from the front gate of the university to the actual building where I study is a 5 minute walk.


The entrance to the Political faculty building (where I study).

The weather here has been spectacular the past few weeks. The locals say they have not seen this nice of a spring in their entire lives. Unfortunately, I took this picture the one day it rained last week.


Hallways of the Political faculty building.

Every faculty (department) has it’s own wall colors. The Political faculty is this peach color, but the International Relations faculty is a light blue. This means that every classroom in that hallway belongs to each faculty. It is very easy to get lost in this building because every classroom number resets depending on the hallway. For example, there is a room 114 in the Sociology faculty and there is also a room 114 in the International Relations faculty. The only way to figure out where you are is by the colors of the walls.

10:00am – I get to school around 09:15 every morning, but this is the time my classes actually start. Mondays mean that my first class is Gender and Sexuality in Russia. This is one of my favorite classes. We do not necessarily learn about things chronologically, but we touch on interesting topics like Soviet masculinity, gender bending in the 19th century, women during wartime, how socialism shaped gender order, etc. The class is very evenly divided between lecture and discussion, which I appreciate.

11:30am – Break between classes.

11:40am – Grammar class! A lot of fast-paced verb conjugation or case-agreement speaking.

1:10pm – Lunch! I usually pack my own lunch or I go to the school cafeteria and get a pastry.

1:50pm – Conversation class usually is when we write a dialogue for homework and present it to the class. We also do a lot of monologues during class on different topics depending on what we are learning that day.

3:20pm – Freedom! It is a joke that no matter where you live in the city, it takes a hour to get to our campus. There is only one bus that goes straight to my house, but the bus is always crowded because it is the only bus that goes through the center of the city AND the only bus that goes to the immigration center. Because of this, I always go home the weirdest way I possibly can. I have an unlimited public transportation card (tram, metro, trolleybus, bus), so I always go a different way home. Recently, I’ve been taking the trolleybus to the south side of where I live, and I walk across the canal to get home since it does not take more than ten minutes from there.


5:15pm – This is usually when I get home if I do not have plans for the afternoon.

6:00pm – My host mom and I always eat together at this time, unless she is going out to see a show or hang out with her friends. Her dinners are always different, but always involves a soup and a main course. We always have the soup first and then the main course. Sometimes, we eat a little later or a little earlier because she likes to watch TV at 6:15pm for a specific program. What I appreciate is that even though I am gone for most of the day, we make sure to always talk during our meals. Some meals we talk more than others, but even though I do not have a great grasp of the language, we manage to talk. We always talk about where we went today, what we ate (outside of home), what we plan to do tomorrow, etc. She never lets me do the dishes, but I occasionally do them when she goes out immediately after dinner because she usually comes home late. She never sleeps with dirty dishes in the sink and I don’t want her to do dishes at midnight. I often get a gentle scolding (not really) for doing it, but I don’t mind.

7:00pm-12:00am – ??? This is my confusion period because I usually go into my room and start my work or attempt to do so. When the weather is really nice, I take a walk with a friend. If I am not talking a walk, I’m in my room.. I’ve been trying to make better use of this time after dinner because some museums in Petersburg are open until 9:00pm on certain days of the week. Since I have less than three weeks left, I’ve been trying to strategically plan the days I end earlier since there are a lot of places I still have not been.

12:00am-1:00am – I try to sleep at this time and I usually do, but sometimes my homework is extremely tedious to the point that I did not realize that it is suddenly 2:00am.

anytime after 1:00am – Likely asleep (like right now) 🙂

До следующего раза (until next time)

Justine G.

Жюстин, usually Джастин, Жастин, or Жустин.

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