Tuesday, September 13, 2011
New year, new country, new blog!
Well, its September again, and for me that means a few things - sweaters instead of flip flops, pumpkin-flavoured ANYTHING, the fifth season of Gossip Girl... and a new adventure in a foreign country.
Last September, I jetted off to Moscow for a year to teach English (you can read about my crazy experiences in Mother Russia here). This year, I'm headed to England to work as an au pair.
Why England, you might ask? Why au pairing? Good questions. To get the answer, let's go back to December 2010. Imagine a flat in Russia. In winter. Now take away the hot water and heat for three weeks. Add in approximately three hours of cloudy, hazy "sunlight" per day (all during my work hours when I was stuck inside anyways) and you can begin to appreciate the mindset I was in. Seasonal Affective Disorder, anyone?
The holidays were also approaching, and even though Russians do not over-commercialize Christmas to anywhere near the extent us North Americans do, I was still feeling a little lonely and homesick for my family and all our Christmas traditions.
(I was also just kinda longing to get back to a place where I could shower for longer than .23 seconds)
At the same time, however, I was LOVING all the experiences I was having and the friends I was making in Russia. The "travel bug" had definitely bitten me, and hard. One day when I ventured out into the snow to buy some groceries at the local "Perekrestok" chain store, I had a sudden, well, epiphany if you will. "Perekrestok" is Russian for "crossroads," and I realized that I was at a metaphorical crossroads of my own.
It seems like EVERYONE my age knows exactly what they want to do. Everyone's in grad school, or law school, or teacher's college, because all we hear nowadays is that a mere bachelor's degree won't get you anywhere (as I write this, I glance over at my own bachelor's degree from uni that's hanging on my wall...pleaaaaase tell me its more than just a really expensive piece of paper!) But where is this "where" that everyone's headed? To a job, a house in the suburbs, 2.2 kids and a dog? Is that really the direction I want to take my life? Don't get me wrong. I couldn't be happier for my friends who are racking up new degrees, getting engaged, and picking out curtain rods at Sears. That's what they want, and good for them! But at the risk of sounding like a whiny twenty-something of the igeneration, I honestly don't know what I want.
I know I love to travel. I love history, meeting new people, writing, exploring cities. I love running and kids and languages and books.
So last December, while I trudged home in the snow, I made the decision to continue my "post-uni world education" by moving to another country and getting a job that would allow me to travel lots too. Becoming an au-pair made a lot of sense - my best friend was working as an au pair in Australia, so she helped me out and gave some great advice, and I also hoped that this way, by becoming part of another family, I wouldn't be as homesick as I sometimes was in Russia.
At first, I corresponded with some families in Italy, France, and Spain, but I never really felt a "connection" with any of the families. Maybe it was the language barrier, or maybe it was the awkwardness of having Skype interviews over a shaky Russian internet connection while I was wearing a dress shirt on top and pyjama pants on the bottom...but I just wasn't feeling it.
Then, I got an email from Liz. And I just knew, right away, that this was the family for me. Which meant that it was going to be da svidanya Russia, hello England!
Nine months after our first exchange of emails, I already feel as though I know Liz, Ian, and their three adorable children. In two weeks, I'll be meeting them at the airport - I can't believe how fast time has flown! I have no idea what to expect this year, but I do know one thing. This Canadian girl's adventures in the UK are just beginning!
Posted by KStarr at 2:54 PM