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17 Jul, 2009 01:41

Trip down memory lane: Medvedev's video blog

Entrance exams in Russia begin in mid-July with thousands of students across the country taking part. Dmitry Medvedev wished the students luck on his blog. The Russian leader even visited his own university this May.

Many of our young people are going through a rather difficult time right now, as many of them are about to take university entrance exams. This year it’s happening under a different set-up. In many cases, it’s enough just to pass the Unified State Examination, but this doesn’t minimize the tension. I want to say that I feel for you, and I hope that those who really want to go to university will succeed. Recalling the events of a long time ago, back in 1982, I remember how nerve-wracking it was and the great amount of concentration it required. Still, it’s an important event.

I recently visited the school I graduated from. That day I also stopped by the University where I studied, walked into the familiar lecture-halls and checked in on the Law Department, which is so dear to my heart. I first studied, and later taught, at the Law Department of the State University of St. Petersburg.

People who leave their native cities always have a special kind of relationship with them. This city gave me pretty much everything – I was born here, so it gave me my dear parents; it gave me my school and university education. Here I started my career and defended my thesis. All the major events which shaped me as a person happened here, in this city. On the other hand, I left St. Petersburg 20 years ago. And every time I return, it’s a flash-back to my past, in a sense – to a great past. Due to certain reasons, people tend to idealize their past and I am no exception. I feel an emotional surge every time I come back. I think it’s natural for anyone.

We’ve now entered the Kupchino area. It’s an old part that was developed back in the 60s; the so-called “6th quarter”. It had a different name at first, but I know it as the “6th quarter” – a place where my home – building 6, block 1 – and my school are. I went to school in 1972 and graduated from it in 1982. I never changed to another school. It’s a normal St. Pete school, with all its pros and… possibilities. There was nothing special about it, although the teaching staff were strong and, from what I know, the majority of graduates were accepted to universities and institutes later on.

By the way, there was once a library named after Korolenko somewhere here. I don’t know what happened to it… Look, it says [on the glass door] “Internet. Fax”! I think it’s still here, the library. Well, you see – consistency is important. And here is my dear quarter. Some of the buildings were built in the ’80s, another lot in the ’60s and ’70s. This long apartment block was considered to be one of the most prestigious, as it consists of almost 1000 apartments. It was made of brick and the rooms had an improved layout. They were good apartments, considering the standards back then. And the other buildings are the usual examples of the Khrushchev era. Like this one, for example.

There are eight-storey buildings like my house, for example, with wonderful kitchens – five square meters. But the bathrooms are separate from the toilets. Kupchino was a new district in every sense of the word. On the one hand, it was very green, one could go for a walk, do exercises or just idle away the time and hang out there. I spent little time in the city center; only when my parents took me out to a museum or the theater. When we grew older we began doing sports, so we started going to different city districts. But mostly I lived in Kupchino. When I started university, Vasilievsky Island became the center of my life. Certainly, this is a different St. Petersburg. This is the historic part of the city, the city of Peter the Great in every sense of the word. On the one hand, there are a lot of beautiful buildings, but on the other hand, many of them are dilapidated. This was the case at that time; a lot of them have been reconstructed now.

The atmosphere is different here, of course, as well as the atmosphere at the university, which was established in the time of Peter the Great. The university consists of twelve faculties, and the building is definitely unique. I attended courses at the Mechanics Institute because my friends did. Some of my friends made up their minds to go to a technical institute, while I was still undecided. And they told me, “Let’s go and improve our mathematics and physics”. So for some time I attended the courses, which took considerable effort. But the courses once again showed that it’s not exactly my cup of tea. As a result, by May, I had made my final decision to study at the Humanitarian Institute, but I was still in two minds about whether to choose the Philological or the Legal department. And then, after discussing it with different people, including my parents, I decided that the Legal department was the only possible option. And I have never regretted my choice.

Now we are passing interesting places. We are on line 22, where the Legal department is situated. These lines were initially supposed to be canals. But as the money was wasted – or guzzled – away, the lines turned into ordinary streets. The place may have looked like Amsterdam. So this is line 22, and now we are going to cross a big avenue at Vasilievsky Island. I used to go along this street. There used to be a tram going down here – there is no such tram any more. I traveled either from here, or took a bus from the metro station Valilieostrovskoye. So I could go two ways. When I started teaching, I traveled by car. I was a successful teacher. I had a car.