I wish I could see clearly

I wish I could see myself from the outside, like floating above everything that is happening and have a serious idea of my life. Some of the time I would like to remember me leaving Ukraine in a completed way; feeling like, I was happy to leave my job and my friends and begin a new adventure; that I only planned to stay for 2-3 weeks but it turned into something much more; but other times, I feel like my time in Ukraine is just incomparable to anything else in my life. Even if I spent a lot of time in London, I never felt the way that I felt in Lviv and my friends. I knew that I wouldn’t find true love in Ukraine with the mentality of a lot of the men there so when I had this ‘love story’ almost unfolding in front of me, I wanted to run and jump, leap as far as I could and not look back and be a happy ‘in love’ person; but I feel like my life here isn’t me. I daydream a lot about old memories, friends, boyfriends, jobs. I wonder if I am truly happy here, living someone else’s dreams and living with someone else’s friends. I’ve met some really great people here, but they are not my best friends. And my best friends in Lviv are irreplaceable. I am trying to understand my feelings of – would I actually be happy to pack up and go to Ukraine again? Would I want to live there again or am I just sad that it is over because there was so much emotion involved while I was there.

This quote replays in my mind often – ‘don’t cry that it’s over, smile because it happened.’

But it’s unbelievable hard for me and I don’t know why after 5 months, I still feel like something is missing in my life; like a huge chunk of my heart. Why can’t I stop feeling like this?

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Again, I feel like it could been weeks, if not months since I last wrote. I have made some good friends in Lyon but I also feel a little less social than I normally am. A lot of the time I want to rush home to see Loic and spend time with him. I am doing a lot of babysitting in the evenings now too and I feel like on my evenings off I want to be home or out in the city, but with Loic. He has a different personality to me, which is more clear the more we go out together and generally living with each other. I find myself wanting to be more domesticated and less wanting to go out partying and drinking. I’m not sure if this is so good though, because if I have just moved to a new city – I need to be spending time with the friends who are wanting to spend time with me too.

I have a few plants now (I’m enjoying this gardening idea) and just yesterday we bought a hamster. I’m surprised with my willingness to settle down now. It all started when I decided to buy a bike and from then on, I am feeling more (and less) at home. Now I feel like the apartment we live in is mine too, and now that I am working everyday, I feel more productive. Although really it can be difficult for me, and a lot of the time I find myself in a fit of tears. I hate to cry around Loic because I don’t want him to feel depressed for my sake. I wonder if I am doing the right thing with my life. I wonder what my parents really think about my life and the decisions I have made. Of course they are always so supportive of me, but do they really want me to travel so much. My brother made a comment on Skype on Sunday – that he feels like he doesn’t have a sister anymore. A lot of things he says don’t make a lot of sense now and he gets really confused with his medication. He said to my mom a few weeks ago that he was talking with me downstairs (at my parents house) about life problems, which is clearly not possible. These things really upset me because I just want him to be happy and have a normal, happy life but since the accident it’s very difficult for both him and my parents. But it’s the comments,about our childhood, or my room, about me being there and being his sister. These really upset me because I wonder if I am doing the right thing. I have been away from my parents, really, since I was 18 years old and now I am 26. This is a constant thought in my mind but I feel like my parents have missed all of my ‘adult’ life. Although we have Skype and Facebook, they don’t get to see me on weekends for Sunday roast, or for all of the holidays. I don’t mind being far away from any of my other family, cousins, aunts, uncles, but I think one day my parents will be gone and I missed the most influencial years of my life with my parents. I think I have realised this again now when Loic goes to see his family or has his friends for the last few years, or from school – like long periods of time; whereas for me, everyone is all over Europe and my closest friends now are the ones I left behind in Ukraine – along with the job and lifestyle that I loved.

On top of these thoughts playing on my mind, on a daily basis, I also have trouble with the language barrier. Sometimes to be in the house and the guys are talking so quickly in French, about old memories or jokes; or if I go to Loic’s family’s house, I can’t have a normal conversation with people. Sometimes I don’t feel like myself anymore and it’s only when I do go out with my friends, alone, that I feel like myself again. I am happy and outgoing. We went out last night for one of Loic’s managers going away parties, and unlike my normal self, I am sitting quietly – not sure if anyone speaks English – and almost waiting for people to come talk to me or to be introduced. And where has all my motivation gone for learning a new language? I think the depression feelings of living in another country overwhelm me so much that I just don’t want to think about studying.

I have been reading a lot lately on the metro because I find if I am just listening to music, I am over-analysing my life – staring down at the ground and thinking way too much about what I do on a daily basis and how much I feel like I am changing, or not being myself. I am daydreaming about past memories in Ukraine, or generally just thinking anything about Ukraine brings me to tears. I feel like I am almost escaping my life by reading books. Even the other day when I met a couple girls from couchsurfing, we were talking about books and they asked me about what I was reading. I answered in such a way that it almost felt like the characters were real and I was describing them and their personalities.

But on a good day – no really, most days, the majority of days – I remember how much I love travelling and that I wouldn’t want to settle down in America (atleast for the moment). I love my life the way it is and I am blessed to be able to live in other countries when others would need to have a visa to visit. I have the best, more understanding and patient boyfriend I could ask for. Even if we are completely different, he brings out the best in me and I want to be a better person, for myself and to him. I think that if I were able to atleast visit my family for a couple weeks (because they last time I saw them was 2 years ago), everything would feel much more comfortable for myself – because at the moment, maybe I really am just over-thinking everything.

So, it is this time next week – – I have just 7 days before I start working. Lately I am still running a lot and studying French. The other week I ran over 100KM for the week, so I was really tired before our trip to South of France but now I am taking it easier. I would like to train for a half or full marathon for this year – this is my plan 🙂 This last week, Monks and I went on a short roadtrip to a few places on the coast – – to visit two of his friends (one was Stefan who I met in Ukraine too!) and we also slept in the car one night – which was a little cold and painful but funny memories. Where we went was so beautiful! I went swimming in the sea, you could see in the water pretty clearly. I used my waterproof camera for the first time (underwater). We also went on jetski for the first time, which I thought would be scary at first but it was just so much fun. I’ve never laughed and screamed so much at one time!!! I’m really looking forward to work though and getting out of the house more, making some money. Hopefully soon I will begin a language exchange with some locals and really start to learn French quickly 🙂 

 

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A Week in Expensive Paradise

The last few weeks had been really hard on me with not having a regular routine, job and friends; so in a spontaneous mood, I decided it was best if I went away for a little while – to somewhere new – and when I looked at the map, I noticed how close Geneva actually is. I booked with some people on Blablacar to join them last Sunday and Couchsurfed for my first official time. 

I’m proud of the way I travelled for this trip because more and more I feel like I become braver. When I first started to travel, I would go with a boyfriend by plane, staying in nice hotels. Then I started to travel alone, with tour groups; then backpacking and staying in hostels. This time it was all blablacar, hitchhiking and couchsurfing (and 2 train rides). It was the ultimate cheap holiday, in such an expensive country, and it was just what I needed. When I am travelling, I remember who I am, my loves and dislikes – I am happy. I rented a bike (for free) and cycled for over 50km in Geneva, walked for atleast 7 hours a day, and went for a run in the vineyards of Switzerland. I had conversations with strangers and I lived out another bucket list item, by proper hitchhiking – you know, with a cardboard sign and thumb out. I met really great people and had some interesting conversations. It was really what I needed…

It was only one week that I went away, but when I got back to Lyon it felt like I had been gone for a month because I had done so much and been on the move non-stop. Everything in the house looked different but actually nothing had changed and everyone was up to the same things – but it was nice to see them again. No one knew I was returning – I just arrived to the house and rang the bell, so it was exciting to see Loic’s face when I walked in the door 🙂

The last few days, I have been running a lot. Saturday (18k), Sunday (8k) and Monday (21km). I called the company I will be working with, and sorting out some of the things I need to look at for work, my dad’s website, etc. I introduced Manuel to a Japanese girl I met, as he wants to learn Japanese. I, myself, will start private French lessons soon. I posted on Couchsurfing website and I had a lot of replies for private lessons and language exchange. Today, I would again like to go for a run, ride Velly to the centre and get a fridge magnet or some sort of souvenir for my dad’s birthday, and just continue to stay busy because I think it’s the only thing that it keeping me sane when I am not working. And next week, Loic and I will be going to South of France for some camping, so it will be interesting to do a little more travelling 🙂

2 Months in France

So I have been in France for an unexpected 2 months now. When I left Ukraine, I really had no estimate on time that I would spend here so it’s a bit surreal. 

The other weekend I went out to see some friends and I was walking back from the city alone around 4am. I was just around the corner from the house when a guy grabbed me on the street. It’s a strange feeling because when you think about something like this happening to you, you think that you would be able to move, kick the guy and run away, or even scream, but just in the shock and fear, I didn’t even think to scream for help. He had his arms so tight around my body and up against him that I couldn’t move at all. He started touching me and trying to rip off my shorts. I started to feel emotional, with tears in my eyes, I am asking him what is he doing? And why? He is repeating, “Je t’aime!” The whole time I was looking into his eyes and anticipating what might happen. A rush of visions come to mind of me being raped as he is trying to pull me off the road. He is looking for somewhere to take me into the darkness, when he is distracted and looks ahead at the traffic lights. His grip became a little more loose and I bolted away down the street. I looked behind and he is just staring at me whilst slowly crossing the street. As I am running, I was making sure he didn’t follow me and got home to Loic in a fit of tears, crying until I fell asleep. 

I have had guys yell at me, pull over in cars, follow me home but I am quite shocked about this and it has really made me scared to be alone now, or to pass a guy alone in a secluded area, even during the day. To be honest, lately, I am becoming a lot more anxious and I feel that everything is starting to get to me. I am not feeling like myself anymore. Sometimes I wonder if I am really able to be in a relationship right now because I can’t control my own emotions. I hate to be upset about things or to bring someone else down but at the moment, I don’t have a job, or often go out with my friends. Two girls whom I met when I first arrived to Lyon have moved to Paris and other friends are away on holidays this month or when I call/write them, they are away for the weekend or not going out.

And also, as nice as they all are, it can be difficult living in the house with the guys. Sometimes I really just miss sitting in the clean house with Oxana with some brie and a bottle of wine, listening to music and talking wishfully about love and life. Instead, it is parkour videos, yelling, running around the house and punching each other, all talking in French and I sit there bored, not understanding anything. They are a close group of friends and not that I feel as though I am in the way or left out, but I feel like I don’t get to have nice “girly time.” I miss having quiet people around the house and talking, enjoying some drinks, going to cafes. I really miss my friends. I keep daydreaming of my life in Ukraine, or even London at times, friends, my job, taking weekend trips away. I have to say I miss everything so much.

Sometimes I wonder how many relationships with a different native language actually work out? I really want to learn French but I am very easily discouraged when I sit in a room with everyone speaking another language and I don’t understand anything. I don’t want to keep asking again and again to the guys what they are talking about. When I first started travelling, this wasn’t even an issue for me. I enjoyed sitting and listening to people of different nationalities speaking their languages. It was all interesting to me. But now after Ukraine and now again in France the same thing, oh la la, it is tough on me. I, again, wonder what it would be like to date a guy who’s whole family and all friends speak English. Sometimes when I sit at the dinner table and everyone is speaking together, I daydream that I am in Australia or somewhere warm, outside having a BBQ, with everyone laughing, a good vibe and I understand everything. I am nostalgic for this. Is that bad? Maybe it is – because if I wanted an easy life, of speaking English, then I could have stayed in England or somewhere.

I think I need some time away because now maybe I am over-thinking everything when I need to think of the positive things in my life. Like the work I will begin in September, going to my interviews and meeting new families to work with. And most importantly for me right now, I have a really understanding and amazing boyfriend. This is my life and I decided that I wanted to travel and live in other countries, so I can’t be surprised when things aren’t so perfect.

#Loneliness of a Traveller

http://youtu.be/Oge5T_JiZq4

Another hot day in Lyon – the sun is shining into the room and everything is completely silent, except for a neighbour having their daily piano time ♥

#LittleThingsInLife

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It’s Friday – Yey Happy Weekend!

I had a Skype interview yesterday with a recruitment agency for teaching/babysitting work. They have already accepted me and sent me some clients to arrange for interviews – wow))) Once I have a job here I think I will feel much more comfortable. At the moment, I am [still] in some kind of limbo state)))

I also Skyped with my parents and one of my best friends, Natalia [and when her video loaded, I became very emotional to see her beautiful face again!]. I miss her so much! It is so difficult to be away from my family and such great friends, but slowly I am feeling more relaxed here… I am looking forward to the next few days now, for no particular reason)

♥ ♥ ♥

A Chapter in the Life of a Traveller – Tallinn, Helsinki, St Petersburg

[BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP]

SUNDAY MORNING – My alarm begins to ring in our large 12-bed dorm room and I swiftly sit up to grab my phone to prevent any of my new best friends from waking up. I swing my legs out of the bed and sit on the edge, looking on at everyone else sleeping. There are clothes and backpacks scattered across the room. A girl in the bunk next to me groans and turns over to cuddle with her boyfriend. Luca and Jan fast asleep in the bunks to the other side of me.

“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to travel long-term with someone else, especially a boyfriend. I have been alone for so long now,” I thought to myself. “I don’t know if I would even like it? Or maybe I am just trying to make myself feel better.”

I rise out of bed and head to the kitchen for breakfast. There is an Asian couple in the kitchen, already dressed and eating breakfast. They have their cameras on the table, the guy is looking at a map and they are discussing together what they want to see in the city.

I quickly pour a cup of coffee and grab a piece of toast, throw some jam on it and head to the common room. I open the window and sit on the window ledge, looking down at the few people walking along the street. The cool morning mist is starting to fade as the sun begins to rise.  I start to daydream, looking out at the buildings, the leaves falling from the trees, reminiscing from last 4 days. Swimming in the freezing Baltic Sea at 6am, eating Elk soup and fishing for cucumbers in a medieval style café, going on a pub crawl and to an outdoor nightclub, new experiences and meeting dozens of new people. Smiling to myself, I finish my cup of coffee and run upstairs to shower and grab my backpack. Today, I will head to my next stop, to St. Petersburg, Russia.

It is still very quiet as I am leaving the hostel. I drop my key at the empty reception desk and walk down the crooked stairs onto the cobblestone roads of Old-Town Tallinn. Again, I am alone. After the last few days of meet new people, spending everyday with them, I am walking in silence to the docks where I will find which ferry I need to take.

I don’t think words can explain this feeling of leaving yet another city and you don’t know if you will ever see these ‘friends’ again. There is a strange understanding of travellers in hostels. You know that you will only be there for a few days, where everyone is arriving and leaving on different dates, all going to different destinations, but for a short segment of time, you were someone’s best friend for a day, or two, or 5. All solo travellers rely on these moments with other travellers.

But today is not a normal travel day, and for the whole journey to the ferry and trip to Finland, I cannot wipe the smile off my face. Today I will meet up with another traveller, Adrian, whom I met in Stockholm. I will first take my ferry to Helsinki and we will meet in the city centre. And what’s even better, when I return to Helsinki I will meet up with Luca again and Daniel when I arrive in Lithuania! The idea of seeing people again, to see a familiar face when you are so used to saying goodbye, this is priceless. To top it off, I am headed to Russia! A completely unexpected, unplanned idea, but thanks to Adrian, I will be joining him!

I arrive at the docks in Tallinn and sit with my feet hanging over the edge, dangling above the water. The sun is shining on my face and I am listening to music, just smiling in a most tranquil mood. “How good is life?” I whisper to myself. “Is this really my life?”

I watch as my ferry that was in the far distance is now slowly getting closer and closer to me. The Finnish flag is blowing in the breeze. I get up and hoist my heavy backpack onto my back, clip my smaller backpack to my front and walk to the ticket office, through the boarding passage and onto the ferry. I find a seat at a table next to man, with a huge backpack like me, and a woman, whose travel partner was a cute, grey dog sitting in the chair next to her. His tail was wagging and he kept wanting to jump onto the table whilst his owner continued to tell him off, in what sounded like Russian.

After attempting to connect to the Wi-Fi so I can load Helsinki on Google Maps, which wasn’t working, I take out my book and begin to read for only a few short pages before my eyes become heavy and I fall asleep. I wake up to the grey dog licking my leg and at the same time, the woman is tapping my arm and smiling at me. In a few moments, I feel the ferry come to a stop and everyone is getting up. I grab my backpack, get off the boat, through the ferry terminal and to the front of the building.

“OK, where do I go now?” I wonder.

I walk to a tram stop and try to look on a map of which direction I should walk in, but there was a huge crowd of people and I didn’t want to stare blankly at a map for too long because I hate looking like a tourist – like my backpack didn’t give it away in the first place!

I walk back down the main road and decide that if I went in the direction of left, it would bring me to a residential area, so I will just walk right and hope I will arrive somewhere that looks like a city centre. Along the way, trying to connect to any free Wi-Fi spots but after 10 minutes walking, I decided to ask at a hotel which way to go. Luckily this was still in the direction I was planning to go, but at least now I knew I wasn’t lost.

I walked along the streets of shops, busy with people, and along a park where everyone was sitting in the grass and eating ice cream. I arrived at the road the receptionist told me to turn right on and continued straight until I came across the huge square in the centre – and Adrian! He and his friend were laying in the shade of a tree, using their backpacks as pillows. I run up to him with a huge smile and gave him a hug and I was introduced to his friend.

We continued to talk, exchanging travel stories and what has been happening the last few cities we have visited, like my many stalkers, being followed, or drunk stories, as we headed to a supermarket to load up on vodka and snacks for the overnight ferry to Russia (as you do).

Despite still having a couple hours before our ferry was to leave, we got onboard and found our rooms. I had a separate room to the guys but ended up bringing all of my things into their room, so we could have a party. We had our music playing, card games, and vodka shots. I am sure we were already drunk by the time we felt the ferry engines turn on, and we went to the upper deck to watch Finland fade into the distance. The sun was setting and it was just beautifully exciting knowing that we were off to another country!

We walked around the ferry, which felt like a cruise ship, with its restaurants, shops, casinos, bars, movie theatre and game rooms, but it wasn’t long before we returned to our drinking den and continued our private party. Our roommate, a Russian guy, enters the room, with a priceless face of shock. We invited him to join us and he taught us some Russian card games, drank with us, and later we did a few more laps around the ferry together, only to end up in the nightclub until the early morning hours. Waking up to hear the captain on the intercom, speaking in Russian, and then the engines turned off.

“We are in Russia!!!! We are in Russia!!!! WOW!!!!!” I shrieked and jumped around the room, while Adrian pulled his pillow over his head, mumbling something about never drinking vodka again.