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Return to Saint Petersburg

Julia ten Bos, intern at NIP, MA, Leiden University

The decision to return to St Petersburg was an easy one. My internship at the NIP was not my first experience in Russia or in Saint Petersburg. In 2016-2017 I studied a semester at the Saint Petersburg State University, at the faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I was missing the city, the friends I made during the previous semester, the activities, the theaters, the exhibitions and the excellent manicurists that this beautiful city has. Those were enough reasons to want to go back. I had (briefly) been to the NIP before and became particularly interested in the work that was done there.

Culture is able to connect people, something you don’t realize enough when you just read the news. Additionally, I thought it would be a welcome change to see Saint Petersburg in the summer, with warmer weather and the white nights. With renewed courage and some nerves I got on the plane, ready for a new adventure.

Carrying two packed suitcases, I arrived at a friends place and with her family, who did everything and more to make me feel welcome. I have been very lucky to live with her and I learned a lot from it. The next day I took the beautiful Saint Petersburg metro to the NIP, for the first day of my internship. Here I met my colleagues for the next three months, as well as the Dutch and the Russian students. A lot is happening at the NIP: classes, excursions, lectures, music evenings and concerts are organized and all kinds of trips are made to other places in Russia. This means the internship at the NIP is very versatile, there is always something to see or do and no two days are the same. The only drawback of this is that time flies by way too fast. While I was doing my internship, I came across all kinds of interesting places and through the events of the NIP I met a diverse group of researchers, linguists, ambassadors and diplomats. Thanks to the knowledgeable Neerlandici at the NIP, I also regained my interest in the Dutch language and culture. The same goes for the Dutch-speaking club. The level of the Dutch-speaking Russians that come to the speaking club is very high. It is incredibly fun to talk to them on a weekly basis and a great motivation to get started with your own language studies.

The varied nature of the work is not the only thing that makes the internship so enjoyable: there is also a lot of room for your own development and academic career. At the NIP I had the opportunity to take private Russian lessons, do my own research along with my internship assignment and to participate in the trips that were organized. Whether you are a student or not, these aspects are very educational and great fun! With a lot of inspiration and ideas I will return to the Netherlands and start working on my masters with these lessons in mind.  

Saint Petersburg has a lot to offer and nothing is as it seems. While you can lose yourself at all sorts of hidden squares and courtyards in the weekends, you can always go to the NIP. Not only for internship-related matters, but also for when, once in a while, you need a place that feels like home. If you just want to speak Dutch, drink a cup of coffee, study or read quietly or just want to have a chat, this is always possible. The colleagues at the NIP are very open and will always help you with questions, ideas or maybe even have a problem. Despite having already been to Saint Petersburg before, I am extremely happy that I have returned to the city and had a completely novel experience. I left the Netherlands with a good feeling, but receiving so many ideas, inspiration and friendships from my internship at the NIP was something I could have never expected.