Ellamae Lepper (2014, Medieval and Modern Languages)

Each September, just before starting their second year, many Cambridge ab initio Russian students travel together to St Petersburg for a three-week intensive language course. I was able to take part in this trip last year thanks to a £600 grant from St Catharine’s which covered a large proportion of my costs.

For many of us, myself included, this was our first foray into the country we’d already committed to doing a whole degree in! In between classes at the language school, we took advantage of the wonderful September weather to roam the city’s distinctive architecture and museums, leaving me with a folderful of photos of gold roofs looking splendid in the sunshine, and a more personal understanding of some of the culture and history I’d just spent a year learning about.

I also gained a healthy new appreciation for the challenges of Russian grammar – it’s one thing to think you’ve got the hang of something when you’re sitting safely behind your textbook, but quite another when you’re standing at the front of a long queue in the canteen, figuring out how to ask for the right food!