I guess I finally have to admit that the year abroad is well and truly over. Even while looking at photos posted by my friends in the year below from their exciting year abroad destinations (unreasonably jealous) I was still clinging on. But tomorrow I go back to Cambridge and the fun of fourth year will begin. How is it nearly October? I’m still trying to absorb everything that’s happened this year, and will be working on losing my xachapuri weight for years to come (Who am I kidding? Another piece of cake, please) but it’s finally time to get up and move on to the next step.
It would be incredibly difficult to articulate exactly what has made this year special or to write a list of all those important life skills you learn whilst trying to sort out internet in Ukraine (especially as you cannot use wild hand gesturing in writing), so in lieu of such a list I thought I’d look back and jot down the random moments and things I love to remember and will keep looking back on when I’m old and grey.
My flats in Paris, Odessa and Moscow
Discovering the 19e arrondissement. You can’t beat a walk in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont or a bracing stroll along Bassin de la Villette, or the Middle Eastern food shops which allow aubergines to take up their rightful place in the centre of my life.
Chance meetings on the train in Ukraine. The head violinist of the Odessa Philharmonic, a Turkish guy who has been trying and failing to find an English speaker for the last two weeks of his travels, teachers who live in the same development as me, three Belarusians intent on feeding me croissants…
Playing musical chairs at Joanna’s leaving party.
Many, many trips to the amazing crepe restaurant, Le Petit Morbihan near Montparnasse.
Karaoke in Jinju, singing at the top of our lungs, drinking somaek (soju and beer) mixed in the can, classy people that we are, getting creative with the TAMBOURINES provided.
Watching the Great British Bake Off with Sarah every week, after the obligatory trip to a patisserie en route to her apartment.
The stream of visitors to Paris. Laura, Louise, Tim, Mao, parents and step-parents, Dan. Loved sharing Paris with you 🙂
Connect group. This is a small group of people from church that meets every couple of weeks for chat and food. Let’s just say I lucked out and got to hang out with some of the best people ever. Particularly memorable is the Christmas Connect when Blaire and Christina made us the Australian delicacy ‘Fairy Bread’. Who knew?!
Hungover rainy day outing to Sceaux with Sarah. This is also when it was confirmed to me that Leffe beer is the ultimate drink for all occasions.
Flying so low over Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park at night when landing at Heathrow for a weekend in the UK. London looked special that night.
Seeing the BA plane at Borispol airport in Kiev.
Johnny’s wedding in Minsk.
Travelling alone on overnight trains and tiny Belarusian aeroplanes, being happily seated next to a BBC journalist for some English chat.
Note Erinn’s great moves.
Watching Miranda with Nora and Rachel after a particularly tough day at work. Such fun!
Sitting in a temple in Korea, wearing what seemed to be pyjamas, rehearsing dinner for two hours. Yes, rehearsing. There was a very strict order to putting the bowls out, taking the food, cleaning the bowls using a radish…. perhaps the most excitedly anticipated rice we ever had. And sleeping.
Class trips and lesson time with Class 19.
Meeting the wonderful people of Церковь Живая Надежда in Odessa.
Riding the tram and the marshrutka through the snow, and having to wipe the condensation from the inside of the window to be able to see where we were. The camaraderie when 50 people were crammed into a minibus for 15 and you need to get your bus money to the driver and/or get him to open the back door. “Open the back door for the girl! Open it!”
Eating sushi with Charlotte in Yakitoria in Moscow, and numerous Starbucks breaks with Ana.
Exploring Moscow with some of my most favourite people.
Travelling to Ukraine with my Daddy. I reckon it’s a pretty cool guy who gets a plane and then travels the length of Ukraine with you, leaving you with two bottles of extremely good red wine.
Feeling honoured to visit the Tomilino Children’s Village.
Being shown round the market by Diana and Nastya.
Wearing fur hats.
Drinking champagne by the Eiffel tower on Kaitlyn’s last night in Paris.
Becoming friends with people I was interviewing for work 🙂
Meeting people for the first time at church and deciding that we would love to go out for lunch together afterwards.
Seeing Manon on my first day in Paris and having relief rush through me.
Meeting Ella for the first time, walking around the Marais on my first weekend in Paris and being so glad to have made a friend.
Every single lunch time with the Babylangues crew. Particularly in our Japanese restaurant where I definitely never dropped a whole bowl of rice face down on the floor and would never EVER drink beer before an interview.
Sitting in best named coffee shop ever, Robin Bobbin, with Amanda.
Endless cups of tea in the office from Gillian.
Freezing beach times
Visiting Sarah and Dan in Barcelona and being so very glad to have met them both this year.
Being special guests at the wedding of people we had never met before in Korea, particularly the bit when Emily and I had to conceal our surprise at the bubble machine.
Seb’s incredible and fateful parties.
Trying on some very special traditional costumes at Jinju Castle.
Meeting Tabby, penfriend of many years from Utah, in Paris.
Picture the scene: 1am in a grey apartment block in Odessa. It is April but still freezing, my bags are packed and the contents of my fridge and cupboards are spread across my kitchen table. I have to leave in four hours to get a bus across Ukraine. Erinn, Amanda and Sarah have been helping me get rid of my leftover wine, chocolate, crisps (well, they would say chips), beer, cheese, bread and coffee liqueur (?). The moment arrives when the first of my lovely American friends has to leave. I notice that Erinn is no longer in the kitchen. Suddenly this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl9WMIPzd6w
comes blasting from my bedroom.
We realise we were born for the opera stage and I slowly realise that these crazy people won’t be in my everyday anymore. Luckily for me, the sound of the singing is safely stored on my mental hard drive. Luckily for you, it is not stored on a shareable mp3.
When I am knee deep in essays I will look back on you fondly. Thanks in advance for making my tomorrow just that extra bit better xxxx