Trip to the East: from Paris to Kiev and St Petersburg

By Laetitia DE SEZE

Over a period of two weeks in February, 20 La Tour students left France for an incredible journey. After an early flight that left at 6 a.m. from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, they finally arrived in Kiev, Ukraine. “The atmosphere was calm and we were nervous because the exchange students were picking us up, and we had no idea where we were going,” said Alexandra de Bournazel, a Seconde student.

In Kiev, the temperature was approximately 0°Celcius. For the Parisian students, this was cold, but one of the Ukrainian exchange students named Maria pointed out that it felt warm for a winter day. The Parisians expressed surprise. Besides fighting the cold over the course of the Ukrainian-French Exchange, the group of La Tour students developed their cultural knowledge, even developing their experience of the word “cold” which inched its way that closer to “horrible”, even “atrocious”, in meaning. This was just a tiny negative part of the adventure. The majority of the experience was more like “fun, extraordinary, friendly and memorable,” Juliette Salignat a Seconde Anglophone Section student, said. She adds that living with Ukrainian students in their homes and with their families was “a wonderful challenge.” ADD WHAT SHE MEANS HERE. The first part of the trip was a success.

Suitcase ready and in hand, their smiling owners entered the former Soviet-owned train destined for Moscow. Seconde Anglophone Section student Brieuc Cinquin announced that “the night train was unexpectedly one of the best moments. We could all be  together, talk, sleep and even discover an old prison cell.” While on the train, each student was brought by the Russian teacher to see a former prison cell that was located at the back of the train where the soldiers sent prisoners to suffer in the icy winds.      In Moscow, the weather was freezing, and while walking in the City of Light at night, they had to have their “chapka” on. La Tour students stayed only two days and one night in this beautiful capitol. They celebrated a birthday, visited interesting museums and stayed in a comfortable hotel. “The Kremlin was so great to visit even though some people got a little fussy about walking,” said one of the travelers who preferred to stay anonymous.

Moscow was really interesting, but nothing can be compared to St Petersburg, where many pictures were taken in the snow before the Summer Palace. “The hotel was a bit less nice than in Moscow, but the mood was so cheery that we did not think about it,” Seconde student Emma Jurien commented. According to Trip Advisor, the hotel walls were not soundproof. The hotel manager probably got a few complaints.

The food in Russia was new to the students’ palates and largely unexpected, but still quite good. The last day of the Eastern trip was such fun. Over 300 photos were taken (per student), and only one of them was posted on Instagram, showing just how much the students preferred to relish in the present moment.

On their way to the St Petersburg Airport, students were happy but did not want to leave, even if they still had one week of February holidays left. The Seconde students arrived back in Paris later in that afternoon with many wonderful souvenirs and many, many memories.

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