Fascinating story anon. I appreciate the time and details you put into your posts. It helps more than you think!
For Vladivostok it was a short 5 day trip. Surprisingly English was useful and young people knew it more than I expected. Any time it wasn't I had my Russian friends help me
Simply speaking any Russian was met with surprise, curiousness and a "cool"-factor. I guess they don't get much tourists speaking Russian
The grand majority of my activities took place either at or near the city plaza
I ended up watching a theatrical performance about WWII, interesting seeing it from Russian perspective as an American
Saw an annual victory parade celebrating the defense of Vladivostok during WWII
They had a local a street market open once a week that had local crafts and cuisines available.
Went to a Soviet Inspired restaurant with the sickle and hammer, pictures of Lenin, Gorbachev, Stalin, etc. Really unique atmosphere. Good food in the day and it turns into a bar with a DJ and dancing at night.
Tried Russia's version of Chinese food. All the local cuisines are to die for as well. Borsch, Olivye, Shavyerma, etc.
Club Ra is a seasonal club only open spring and summer on the seaside. It's dubbed as the "hipster" club and has a crowd of young and beautiful people. If people hear you're not Russian you'll be the center of attention.
Can't recall names of the other clubs I went to but I didn't have a bad time in any of them. They played a mix of Russian dance, Modern American and super old American music (1940s).
If you want to see the local parks near the university area I'd recommend renting a car. It's an island connected by a huge iconic bridge.
Locals were incredibly helpful and gave great recommendations whenever I asked questions.
Hostels were cheap.
Smoking cigarettes is incredibly common and I'd recommend just having them on hand with a lighter with how frequently people ask and partake.
Pic is a "moomi troll" famous rock singer shirt.