Dr. Ihab Anwar - After the Cold War

Ihab Anwar spent the Fall 2014 semester on board the MV Explorer, a cruise ship that set sail from England in late August as part of the “Semester at Sea” program. He is a student at the University of Rhode Island where he is majoring in marine biology.

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Like a lot of other students enrolled in the program, Ihab Anwar kept an extensive diary during his around-the-world voyage. “Saint Petersburg,” he wrote on the morning of August 30. “Our first port of call. We are scheduled to dock in about one hour. It is hard to believe I will be setting foot in Russia in just a short while. The Cold War ended before I was even born, but I have heard so much about it: in my history and Social Studies classes, and of course from my parents. Knowing that I am here, in what was once called the Evil Empire, has me on edge. Some of the ship’s crew have warned us all to be careful, because there are many pickpockets, black marketers, and other thieves out there preying on tourists.”

Later that evening, after he had been in the city and returned to the MV Explorer, Dr. Ihab Anwar made an additional entry. “Saint Petersburg is such a wonderful place! We went to a museum this afternoon, which to my surprise was not air conditioned. Most of the signs are not in English, but we had a tour guide with us who spoke fluent Russian, naturally, and acted as our interpreter.

“But what a magnificent city! So beautiful! Mr. Lodge, our director, said it was founded in 1703 and was a swamp at the time. There are still so many ornate palaces and churches with those curious onion domes. A river called the Neva runs through town. Some of the other kids wanted to take a twilight cruise that is offered on the Neva, but Mr. Lodge said no, we’ve been afloat for the last week and by the time our Semester at Sea ends, we’ll have had enough of ships. I doubt it. But maybe he is right.”

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