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Three weeks in Leningrad

It was March 1989, 27 years ago, and
I was one of four students who spent three weeks in Leningrad
It was meant to be a language trip us to learn more Russian
but it became much more than that
during our stay we met many people, Soviets who became our friends
we visited their apartments and other places
some of our new friends exchanged our hard currency to Soviet rubles
rubles that we used to buy products in Soviet stores
or to spend money in the hotels of Leningrad where we visited
often ordinary Soviet citizens joined us to celebrate our life
at one time I met some people in one hotel who talked about Petrograd
Petrograd, Leningrad or Saint Petersburg as we know the city now
was indeed more advanced than I knew having their stock exchange before Soviets
and then there was Alexei who traded goods and wanted to start a business
to import IBM computers to the Soviet Union when restrictions were eliminated
but I could not because I was also chosen to study in the USA
what an excellent business opportunity it might have been
it was the time when new joint ventures were established in Leningrad
but then came the time us to leave after completing our studies
but not without our going away party to which we invited people whom we had met
there was a lot of food, vodka and of course, Soviet champagne
and so was our journey finished.

I had a girlfriend who spent a month in Russia as an exchange student, I forget the name of the city but it’s on the western end of things closer to scandanavia, but as one Russian said, wow that’s way up north. They were still teaching that the American moon landing was a hoax in science class and she was rewarded for being the only American who’d heard of the conspiracy theory. I remember being on the phone with her and thinking how far away she was. When she came back she brought home a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka…which we have here! I was like…“we have this here! Why?”

She also had a Russian girl come to live with her, from the same city, who couldn’t understand for the life of her why a snow storm shut down the entire city and why there weren’t enough parties, and we partied, we were partiers.

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