Stacey Watson has been living in St. Petersburg for the last 8 years, having moved from the United States. After several years of teaching English, she received professional training as a tour guide and now offers tours of St. Petersburg. Her blog SAFS (Ships Are For Sailing) has its own website and Instagram page. On the blog, Stacey shares tips and advice on living in St. Petersburg and takes you on mini cultural tours and experiences around the city through her regular stories. Stacey also moderates the St Petersburg EXPATS Facebook page.

“When I first arrived in St. Petersburg,” explains Stacey, “there was very little support available in English and navigating the city was a real challenge. After a few years, I began to help others who wanted to visit the city for either work or play and SAFS was born. It’s been a fun way to bridge the communication gap while sharing my passion with others. The pandemic has been a great period of growth for us as we’ve had loads of time to work on new projects in education, build more interactive tours and experiences, and release some unique souvenirs for the Russophiles and Russo-curious.”

Stacey Watson. Credit: instagram.com/safs.guide
Stacey Watson. Credit: instagram.com/safs.guide

Xander Parish is a principal dancer at the Mariinsky Theatre but is originally from the UK. He has been living in Russia for over 10 years, and is now a Russian citizen. His Instagram page gives you some insight into the Russian ballet life at the Mariinsky – one of the most renowned opera and ballet theaters in the world. He also has a second Instagram page dedicated to his ballet photography. 

Xander Parrish. instagram.com/_xander
Xander Parrish. instagram.com/_xander

Jarod & Marianne Zartman are a couple from the US and Philippines, respectively, who are currently living and working in St. Petersburg. Jarod has been in St. Petersburg for nearly 15 years, and Marianna for 2.5 years. They are working at the International Academy of St. Petersburg as teachers and more. You can explore their YouTube channel and Facebook page to join their experiences around St. Petersburg as they visit palaces, parks, and enjoy everyday life and delicious Russian food. The video on metro escalators below is a fun one!

"Our YouTube channel started off as Marianne's channel," explains Jarod, "but then we morphed into a channel where we can share with others about life in St. Petersburg, and any other places we visit.  Since COVID ended up shutting down travel and closing borders, it prevented family and friends from coming to visit us.  So we decided to use it as a way to bring them St. Petersburg and enjoy it with us."

Catherine Pawlick is an American ballet critic and book author. Before coming to St Petersburg in 2004, she had experience performing with ballet companies in the United States. She speaks fluent Russian and wrote a book called Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition about the famous Vaganova ballet academy in St. Petersburg and the methodology used there, which was created by Agrippina Vaganova, a well-known Russian dancer and teacher. Catherine writes about Russian ballet in English on her Instagram page and website. She has also written for Dance Magazine, Dance Europe, and The Moscow Times

Catherine Pawlick. Photo courtesy of subject.
Catherine Pawlick. Photo courtesy of subject.

Allison Ascanio is an ITMO Bachelor’s student in biotechnology and she has her very own YouTube channel where she shares her experiences at ITMO and in St. Petersburg. Her content is in Spanish, and, among other things, she offers tips on how to apply to ITMO.

You can also learn more about experiences of international staff and students in St. Petersburg in our blogs. Read the stories of Shahzad from Pakistan, Cristina from Ecuador, Manuela from Brazil, Lasse from Germany, Joshua from the US, Subhrajit from India, Gerhard from Austria, and Asko from Finland.

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