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 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.
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.
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.
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,