Saturday, 2 February 2013

The past, present and the future

Hi again, long time no blog!

The long and short of it is, I didn't post about my last week in Orion once I got back to the UK, and since then I've felt too guilty about that to write. Naughty Lois, slap on the wrist etc.

The past
The last couple days in Orion were bittersweet: we had a last dinner on Saturday 24th November in the dining room where we got officially thanked by everyone in front of everyone, and the kids were encouraged to come to us and say bye, but we knew we had gifts to pass out the next day and that wouldn't be our last chance to talk. We wrapped up all our souvenirs and presents from Blighty and went round all the houses on the Sunday handing them out; it was a shame a few members of the community weren't around to say goodbye to, but we took pictures with the kids and adults who were around. Katya and Yura had us for our last Sunday's meals, and at dinnertime they made a little speech to us about how much we'd changed, come out of our shells, become more grown up and all that, which was really sweet.

On the Monday it was snowing like mad, Vicky took some last pictures before we got in the car. At Domodedovo me and Vicky snuck in a visit to Coffee House for lunch and cheesecake, and raided the duty free for vodka and last-minute souvenirs. The plane home was so fancy! I'd never been on a double-decker plane before, and not one with films in the backs of the seats. I effective drank half a bottle of white wine, half-watched a movie, and then decided to tipsily ramble at Vicky for the rest of the flight.

D + A picked me up at the airport to take me home, which was really lovely of them as I was knackered. I knew I'd be happy to get home, and I expected to be very emotional about it all, but I literally cried with joy when offered a salad. I hadn't seen a lettuce, cucumber, tomato kind of salad for months, I hadn't had a wide choice of tasty food options, and was so overwhelmed by this I burst into tears! So very lame. It took me a matter of days to re-adjust to UK time, quicker than I thought.

The hardest part of coming home was knowing I'd have to leave again. I was distraught at the idea of arranging my next term's internship because I didn't want to leave my family and friends behind having only just arrived home, so it wasn't for a couple of weeks that I got moving with applications.

I looked in to various interesting opportunities, and in the end was offered an excellent position in Liden & Denz doing an internship as their Social Media Content Assistant. Chucked in for free with that I'll be doing a language course in the mornings, while interning in the afternoons. For those of you who thought "Hey wait, I swear Lois said she was going to do that Moscow Times thing", yes, that was one of the potential plans, but in the end Liden & Denz a) got back to me quicker, b) offered a free language course alongside (which will hopefully polish up my Russian where need be) at which c) I will sort of have a ready-made potential social group of fellow students. Also I've already been to St Petersburg so I guess finding my footing will be easier, and due to various links I hope that arranging accomodation will not be too much of a challenge.

The present
To keep busy until I go to St Peterburg I've been to a few bellydancing classes at a local school, which are a lot of fun, but it's hard to commit to doing something every Thursday evening. I hope to take it up properly in Nottingham, think I'll join BellySoc. Today I had my second shift volunteering in the Nightingale Cancer Support Centre shop. I help sort stock, keep the place tidy and make cups of tea while chatting to the other ladies. All those I've met so far are a very friendly bunch and I enjoy getting out of the house and making myself useful. The rest of my time is spent reading The Hunger Games trilogy (hooked), mucking about on the internet and seeing friends, trying to get visits in around the country and in London. If there's one thing being in Russia for 3 months with unreliable internet makes me appreciate, it's that there's nothing like having friends in front of you that you can hug and talk to, not just instant messaging or hoping they read your blog.

The future
24th February is the date I will once again depart for Russia, provided (fingers crossed) my visa invitation arrives soon, and I get some accomodation and some flights sorted. Eep! So soon I hope my contacts will get back to me with some place I can stay, my visa invitation will arrive, I'll fill out my visa application and take it up to London and get my flights booked. At this point I am very grateful for being in a comfortable monetary situation because otherwise I'd be in a total flap about leaving all these bookings so late. At least my travel insurance is sorted, that was a whole day of banging my head against a desk while reading umpteen policy documents. All going well my visa will last me until May 26th, when I'll come back to England and consider my Third Year Abroad done and dusted.

The even-further-in-the-future
But that's not all! Once I'm back from Russia I plan to come terrorise Nottingham Rocksoc for their Liver & Brain events in mid-June, which is like a holiday in itself because it means getting smashed and/or going out for pretty much 10 days on the trot. Then in mid-July I'll be off to Mighty Sounds festival for a long weekend to soak up some sun and ska. Early September I hope I'll be going to Belgrade in Serbia for 3 weeks for a language course, potentially with a friend from uni, so that'd be lovely. Also considering cheekily going to Moscow to sneak in a Moscow Times internship in summer, if they'd still have me. But possibly I'll have to hold that thought until after 4th year as this might be over-ambitious.

Now you're up to date on about 2 months of my year abroad! Boom! More regular updates will come when I'm back in the land of cabbage and vodka.
Ta ta for now,


  1. Привет! I found your blog through and it's really been fantastic to read about your time in Orion. I'm currently applying for Russian Studies at university (including Nottingham, which I noticed you go to!), so I love finding year abroad blogs. They make me feel much less worried about the future! It sounds like you had a great time in Orion and I hope part 2 of your year abroad is just as good. :)

  2. Привет! I'm really glad you've been enjoying my blog so far :) I'll be carrying on posting through my time in St Petersburg too.

    That's great that you're applying for Russian Studies, and I can highly recommend the Nottingham course. The choice of modules is great (though of course subject to change) and you get a trip to St Petersburg in first year which is great fun and also a chance to dip your toe in the water, so to speak, before going on your year abroad. The year abroad staff aren't particularly useful if you're not after going to uni in third year, but then again if you want to do something off the beaten track and organise things yourself (like I did) you'll face no resistance.

    Plus the campus near the city environment is fab - best of both worlds :D The language students get to study in the prettiest buildings :D

  3. I'm really glad you recommend the Nottingham course! Unfortunately, Nottingham is one of the unis that I never got around to visiting before I applied. I'm visiting in a couple of weeks though and I hope like it. I think as long as I like the department and course, the university itself looks like it would be perfect for me. But I like all the unis I've applied to and am still waiting to hear back from 2 of them, so it's going to be a difficult decision.

    Also I see you're also learning Serbian. Are you doing that as elective modules within your Russian degree or as a joint honours? What's it like learning Serbian? I've been thinking recently that I'd like to start another slavic language (especially after seeing what Nottingham offers!), but I only applied for single honours Russian and I'm not sure if I should ask to switch to a joint honours course or stick with single honours and do the new language new as modules. (It says you can do that on the website, but I'm not sure what the difference is!)

    And did you start Russian post a-level or beginners's at Notts?

    (Sorry for so many questions! I've been thinking of so many questions to ask on the visit day and I can't stop myself from asking them.)

  4. Which other unis have you applied to for Russian? I'm just curious.

    I'm doing Serbian as elective modules within my Russian Studies degree at the moment, but what I want to do is make my degree Russian with Serbian, which is more than a minor but less than Joint Hons. The difference is that I can't do joint because I didn't start Serbian in first year, I don't have to go to Serbia on my year abroad - I just have to take a certain amount of Serbian-related modules. I love Serbian, it's a fun, not too tricky language to learn once you've picked up Russian, and we get to go on an optional trip to Belgrade each Easter which is stunning!

    I've been studying Russian for 9 years :O Are you post a-level or a beginner?

    I'm very happy to help :)

  5. Nottingham, Manchester (both with offers), Birmingham (rejection), Sheffield and Durham (both still waiting). :)

    That sounds great! So it sounds like there is quite a lot of flexibility in changing your course and with the year abroad? One thing I was concerned about if I took joint honours or started Serbian in year 1 was that I'd then have to split my year abroad and then I might not get enough time in Russia, which is still my focus. Obviously what I want to do might have changed a lot by then, but it would just be good if they're flexible about that. So as I understand it now if I take Serbian in my first and second year I could decide to go to Serbia during my year abroad and then I'd get a joint honours degree, or I could decide to spend the whole year in Russia and then my degree would be Russian with Serbian. Obviously these are questions I'll be asking on the visit day, but does that sound right to you, even though I've only applied for single honours Russian?

    Wow 9 years! I'll be post a-level as well. I started lessons when I was in yr9, so I think 6 years ago, and I was meant to take the GCSE exams at the end of my third year of Russian, but unfortunately I was ill during my GCSE years and so that was delayed until I came back in sixth form. I'm now in process of completing the a-level, although I'm doing it mostly independently, because while all of that was going on my school decided to cut Russian and the last teacher left. :/ Still, I'm sure it'll be worth it, because I still really enjoy Russian and I can't wait for uni!

    Thanks! :)

  6. Cool, I applied to the first four of those myself: first time round I applied for Notts, Bristol, Oxford, Sheffield and Leeds, second time was Notts, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield. They're all really good unis.

    Yeah, I'd agree with that, that's the advantage of doing a course based on credits, that there's lots of flexibility. The deal with year abroad for single-honours Russian is that you spend a minimum of two 3-month placements out here. That leaves plenty of time for independent travel, and the Serbian department offers scholarships to those wishing to study at uni in Belgrade outside of the Year Abroad requirements.

    Sounds about right to me: you'd have to check what the requirements are, there's a minimum number of credits you have to take in Serbian and Croation-related modules in order to qualify for changing your degree course. I just happened to have taken that many my coincidence because they're interesting modules!

    That's a real shame that your school cut Russian, there's already not many schools teaching it. Good on you for carrying on with the A-level, it'll definitely feel worth it when you're sipping cocktails in a kino-bar off Nevskii Prospekt :)


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