I’m not sure how this happened, but I think I’ve invented some kind of time machine that ONLY goes forward. I’m a genius. I’m mainly saying this because I swear yesterday it was the 18th February, I went to bed and now I’ve woken up and its June. I can’t comprehend how quickly these last 4 months have gone. 4 months ago, I rocked up with all my big fuzzy jumpers, preparing myself for a deathly winter, temperatures of -30 and a long trudge through the next few months. Surprisingly, none of that happened, and now I’m sat here in leggings and vest top wondering how on earth I was ever cold here. That being said, Russia was definitely cold for a long period of time. I have seemed to erase the cold long snowy walks to the metro from my memory, and now I am (normally) blessed with glorious sunshine and nice temperatures. Saint Petersburg literally went from Winter to Summer in a day. One day, it was fairly cold, nippy winds, generally a bit miserable, and the next, it was suddenly 20 degrees, lovely weather, trees and flowers just started growing from NOWHERE and i got SUNBURNT. What the hell Russia, seriously. Going from spending 6/7 months in “Winter Conditions” to suddenly being bombarded with sunshine and heat definitely came as a shock. Overnight, Saint Petersburg burst with colour, and Russians instantly chucked the huge winter coats they’d been sweating under for so long. This obviously led to some HORRENDOUS fashion crimes, all of which I will eventually post on Facebook. But now I feel a bit cheated. The White Nights are in full swing, and it barely gets dark in St Petes. I am leaving on the 21st June, the longest day of the year, and I won’t be able to experience this here. I can imagine the sun doesn’t set, which I would have loved to stay up for, but it can’t be helped. I’ll just be storming up the east coast trainline on the way home instead…

There will be parts of Russia I won’t miss. A lot of Russian mentality is very different to the UK. For example, in the Russian home, it is very normal for University students to live with their parents until they graduate and find a husband or wife. Although Russians do tend to marry younger than us Brits, this still means a  lot of people are still living at home at the age of 25/26. I, however, have been living away from home since I was 18, and I have gotten used to being independent. I also was very independent in Austria, so going from living alone to living in a family has been a bit of shock. Letting into the Russian way of family life was actually pretty easy, mainly because I think I was so petrified and my Russian was so crap that I couldn’t really argue with what was asked of me. In my first few weeks of being here, my host mum used to tell me to wear. She didn’t approve if I didn’t have a hat, thick enough socks on, and heaven forbid if I didn’t wear a scarf. Of course, she was looking out for me, but this started to get a bit ridiculous when it was starting to warm up and I was still expected to be kitted out for -10. And don’t get me started on eating.  Russians are VERY adamant on eating. My host mum is lovely, and she is only looking after me. Russian mums are very motherly, and obviously this is fairly normal for Russians, but from an outsiders point of view, it’s a bit forceful. The other day, I ate with Anya whilst the mum was out. She came back a few hours later and she demanded to know why I hadn’t eaten. Anya and I both at the same time said that I had, especially because Anya watched me eat. She then wanted to know what had been eaten, and I think because I hadn’t eaten everything from the fridge (because there was a lot), she presumed that I didn’t eat. This has happened on several occasions, and every time I’ve said to Anya “Why doesn’t she believe that I eat?” she chimes “That’s my Mum!”, and I have to agree. I think this would have happened in any homestay, and I think this is fairly typical in Russian families. I have to accept it. I’m just looking forward to not arguing about food. And stuff my face with English food. :3

The last thing I’m not going to miss is Russian service. You hear all about it, and it’s true, it’s rubbish. Obviously, as a non native Russian speaker, I do not have a Russian accent.  In England, it’s fairly common to come across a person who may have a slight accent, whether it be English or foreign. Unfortunately for Russia, they don’t have a wide range of accents, (in fact, apparently there is only one), which makes ordering food A NIGHTMARE. The amount of times I’ve gone into Macdonalds  and asked for a “MacChicken Sandwich”, which is the same in Russian and English, and  I get looked at as if I have just spoken in tongues is ridiculous. Apparently some Russians doesn’t understand accents, which is fine, but don’t be so bloody rude about it. The other day of successful Russian speaking with my Russian friends, I went to Subway alone and ordered a Steak and Cheese sandwich on white bread in Russian. She looked at me like I was the devil incarnate and then started waving her hands around in an x shape and started shouting NYET NYET at me (no, no). So I was like  “Okay, do you have Chicken Teriyaki?” (again, in Russian) and she just stared at me in silence. I had to jab at the plastic shield at the chicken like a mad man and scream “CHICKEN TERIYAKI” at her until she FINALLY understood what I was going on about. I then repeated that I wanted white bread, and she stopped and went, da, BREAD, really loud and in my face, (probably the only English word she knew.) I then said I wanted salad, tomatoes and peppers, which also led to a blank stare. After furious jabbing and Russkii shouting, I got to a new person at the end. I told her what I ordered and what drink I wanted and she understood me FINE. If that girl was a sandwich maker in England and had responded to a foreigner like that she would have been fired instantly. Unfortunately in fast food places in Russia, that’s fairly normal. It’s sad really, especially when I am trying in their native language, because it makes me feel like my Russian is awful and that I’m a horrible person. Luckily none of my Russian friends are like that. They’re very patient and help me out, so thank you. 🙂

Although those two paragraphs were a bit negative, there is a lot of things that are right with Russia. Firstly, the Frisbee community in Saint Petersburg and Russia have kept me sane on many occasions and I am glad to have met them. I do love my host family. I am particularly going to miss Anya, watching Sherlock won’t be the same without her. Saint Petersburg as a city is beautiful and I still haven’t had time to see it all, but I have never felt more at home in such a big city. I will miss the grumpy looks on travellers faces, the long escalators on the metro, most 0f the teachers at the Benedict School, my English friends I’ve made here, and Saint Petersburg at night. It is just magical. I literally envy anybody who will be coming here in the future.

Has my Russian improved? Yes, mainly because I couldn’t even have a conversation with my hoz when I got here, and now I can, for quite a while. I’m now a lot more confident when I speak Russian, and it’s only just now where I’m starting to feel more fluent. Over the last few months I’ve had a very love hate relationship with Russian. I’m happy to say that currently I love it, and I’m glad to be leaving on a high.

So what’s in store for me in the next 12 days? Exams, parties, more parties, boat trips, water parks, watching the bridges go down, and hopefully spending time with the amazing people I have met here.

I am definitely going to miss Russia. I really will. But part of me is ready to go home.

Thank you everyone for giving me the best 4 months of my life.

Till next time.

Sarah xo

It’s been a while since I last wrote in this, and I’m nearly coming up to the 3 month mark of my time in Russia. Over the last 3 months, I have been busy with school, projects, and most of all, Frisbee. I haven’t really had a chance to write about it, and for me, it’s a massive part of my life. Since I joined in Sheffield in 2009 I haven’t stopped playing, so this year I was determined to get even better. Before I set off for Russia, I didn’t really know much about the Russian aspect of Ultimate. I knew of two teams in Saint Petersburg, Cosmic Girls, known for doing well at Russian and International tournaments, and Jupiter, known for their friendliness. Before I left, I had to make a decision. Did I want to be the best, or did I want to make friends? As much as I love Frisbee, I couldn’t bear the thought of not making any friends whilst I was in Russia. And boy am I glad I chose Jupiter.

It has nearly been 3 months since I first went to a Jupiter training. I went alone, frightened and nervous. Although no-one really spoke English at that session, I still wanted to know more about the club. At the second session, I met Kostya, who I can safely say has done his best to get me settled into Russian life. He told me of all about Russian Ultimate, and which tournaments were coming up in the next few months. Within a week of arriving, I had already been invited to my first tournament, an indoor beach tournament called Oasis.

I know what you’re thinking. Indoor. Beach. How does that work? The venue was located behind a warehouse in a massive tent (at first when we arrived I thought Kostya was leading me down a back alley to murder me, luckily this wasn’t the case), designed for beach football and volleyball. 2/3rds of the pitch was separated for us, and it was insane. 5 on 5, intense 30 minute games. The Russian Frisbee community is as close as the English one, 3 of the people I played with in Oasis were on my team this week at Sockeye, and faces become very familiar very quickly. One interesting aspect of Russian Ultimate is the format of the tournament. Hat Tournaments are divided into divisions. If you haven’t been playing for very long, or you don’t want to play serious Ultimate, you go into Division 2. If you are on the National team or don’t fancy losing, you go to Division 1. This prevents the best being put with the worst, and I kind of like it. I’m always in Division 2, because you have to work your way up the Russian frisbee scale to put yourself in Div 1, but it makes tournaments a lot fairer. Plus it makes the final of Div 1 a brilliant watch. At Oasis, my team came 2nd of Div 2. My legs were knackered after running on sand, but it was nice not to have to think too much about your throws, because you were indoors! Perfect.

The next tournament I went to was in Novgorod, a simple one day tournament. At the time, Sparkles was in Russia, and the team, even though they had never seen him play, invited him to join them. I was playing with the girls, and Sparkles was placed with the Men’s first team. Because Jupiter have so many male players, the teams are divided into little mini groups. Jupiter have a small break off team called Юнцы – translated as Young,  Young Ones, who tend to be their best players. Then they had the rest of the first team (the team Sparkles joined) and their second team. Although it was outdoors, the format was also 5v5, with games lasting around 25-30 minutes. Unfortunately the girls couldn’t pull it together, finishing 4th out of 5. Sparkles’ team was a lot more successful, finishing 3rd out of 7, and Юнцы finished 2nd. Another large difference from English frisbee is the closing ceremony. In England, we read out a list, award a spoon, plate and trophy for random places, (normally 17th/20th, 9th and 1st place), have a spirit prize, a small clap and all go home. Russia however take it a lot more seriously. Firstly, no-one leaves. Secondly, there are rewards for Spirit, MVP Womens, MVP Mens, and prizes for 3rd, 2nd and 1st place. Each team or person that wins comes out of the crowd, does a little wave, then the crowd form a big square. The winner runs around the square and high fives everyone in it, like so.

Image

Not going to lie, it gives your ego a real boost! Normally, medals are awarded to each team member. At this tournament, they won trophies. Sparkles’ team was nice enough to give him the trophy, as a nice little souvenir of Russia. If any Russians are reading this then I’ll thank you again on behalf of him, he really appreciated it!

And finally, we come to what I was doing this week. Soon after I arrived in Saint Petersburg, Kostya informed me of a massive event that was happening in May. Sockeye, one of the best teams in the USA, were coming to Moscow to train players for a few days, followed by a 3 day hat tournament. I knew it was an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss, so I immediately signed up. We set off from SPB last Thursday, and hung around Moscow on the Friday. On the Saturday the training began. Several Americans had made a very large hop across the pond to train us, and it was incredibly useful. We were put in 6 different stations that concentrated on different aspects of the game, Offense, Defence, Zone, Throwing etc. Each session lasted 3 hours, which was incredibly knackering after 3 days straight. But the Americans were very friendly, and we drank with them each night, sharing our experiences of the game. It was incredible to learn such valuable advice from experts, and I feel that I have so much more to give to the game. Plus the turnout was incredible. About 150-200 people attended, ranging from complete beginners to international players. We then had a hat tournament, divided once again into Divisions. Unfortunately my team didn’t do very well, but I managed to get some much needed practice as a handler, plus it was soooo sunny that I got a suntan! 😀 Overall, 6 days of Ultimate was my perfect way to spend my holiday.

So, that’s been my experience so far of tournaments coming up. I have two more, another beach tournament and an outdoor tournament. But I’ve really noticed the development of Ultimate in Russia. For Russia it’s fairly new. Some teams are inexperienced, and lack structure. The Russian National Team don’t normally do well at Open, but do at Mixed, which is ironic, as there are barely any set Russian Mixed teams. On an International scale, Russia isn’t there yet. But give it a few years and it will be. Jupiter beat Mighty Hucks (a mash of Sheffield and other UK players) at Paganello, so they can’t be all that bad. The 1st team of Jupiter are brilliant. There are standout players who could easily play for the National team, but have not been approached. Apparently the National team mainly pick people out of Moscow, as they are based there, which is a shame, as I feel that having some players on the National team would do wonders for Jupiter. Jupiter are a very strong Open team, finishing 2nd nationally in Russia. But do they compare to Chevy, who normally comes 2nd at GB Nationals? Probably not. But the determination is clear to see. It’s not just the actual game, it’s Spirit too. Russians are apparently known for “bad spirit”, so teams are also trying to focus on being more spirited on the pitch. Jupiter train incredibly hard, because they want it win Nationals so badly. Weaker teams in England could learn so much from them.

So my experience of Russian Ultimate? I’m a bit sad that I don’t play Mixed, but this has helped me develop as a handler for the Women’s team. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the tournaments I have attended here, and I feel that I have made some friends for life here. So I am happy I joined? Yes! Of course I am. Hopefully in ten years time I can return here and see how the team has developed. But I can safely say that I have integrated well into the International Frisbee scene.

Sorry if you read all this and you know nothing about Frisbee, but this blog was long overdue. Hopefully I’ll write in this a bit sooner.

Lots of Russkii loving.

Sarah xxx

We have now rumbled into Week 6 of Russia, and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Getting off the plane feels like yesterday and days are just passing by at the speed of light. This week, we hit our first reading week of many, which was the perfect opportunity to get out of Saint Petersburg for a few days. After a few late minute decisions and bookings, we decided to head for the capital, Moscow. I went to Moscow 5 years ago as part of my intensive language course in Russia, but only got to spend about an hour in Red Square and that was it. I was curious to see whether Moscow had changed much in the last few years, and I wanted to see more. So Mark, Roisin, Emily, Natalie and I hopped on a train, and set sail for the big city.

We had booked tickets to travel on the overnight train, but due to Mark and I being idiots and forgetting our passports when we went to book our tickets, we missed out on beds on the way down. This was my idea of a nightmare, but luckily I managed to get some intermittent kip. We arrived on Saturday morning and headed to the hostel to relax and freshen up. After a quick shower, we decided to visit the Tretyakov Gallery, and milled around for a few hours. The paintings were beautiful, but after being on a train for 8 hours with little sleep, our attention started to wane. We then decided to go back round the gallery and give each painting a funny caption, and then photobomb each others photos, which definitely entertained us, and seemed to entertain the little babyooshkas in each room, with some of them even managing to crack a smile. We then headed back to the hostel to play President for hours on end, before we turned in for the night.

The following day we decided to get up early and head for Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square. The weather was absolutely shocking, it was snowing all day and was bitterly cold, so we were fairly disappointed when we found out that Lenin’s Tomb was the biggest anti climax in the history of the world, as we would have definitely appreciated being inside for a bit longer! We took obligatory tourist photos infront of St Basils Catherdal, went inside and walked around GUM. After deciding against queuing for the Kremlin in the bitter cold, we decided to go to the Revolution Museum, which wasn’t particularly my cup of tea but still worthwhile. We then went to a kooky little bar hidden underground to meet some friends who were studying in Volgograd who were also visiting Moscow. Turns out that there are only 6 of them, and that 2 of them are Ultimate Frisbee players! It was nice to catch up with Rachel, and get to know the others in the group. It was nice to see that they had all bonded, and it made me realise that I virtually know no-0ne from School.. There are about 30-40 English students in Saint Petersburg, and outside of the people in my class, I only seem to know the names of about 10 people. We chilled with the group, and turned in for the night.

The following day, we went to the Kremlin, which was brilliant because the weather was so beautiful. I managed to take some spectacular pictures, which was helped by the glorious sunshine. Jack, one of the Volgograd boys who had studied in Moscow in the first semester, took us to a kooky little market located on the outskirts of Moscow. It was the strangest concept ever. The market was located in the middle of an industrial estate, yet it was surrounded by colourful, doll-like houses, which brought a bit of life back into an otherwise desolate area. It was the first non-soviet looking building I had seen in weeks, and I spent ages just taking photos. Innsbruck was so full of colour and life, and I had completely forgotten how vibrant buildings could be. People took this opportunity to buy fur hats and chess sets, with a lot of the girls now looking stereo-typically Russian!  In the evening, we ended to a hidden underground noodle bar, which was strictly non-tourist. The bar seemed like any other underground bar, small, smoky, and authentic. So I was a bit surprised when we had a “build your own stirfry”, as it seemed to be a strange place to be eating Japanese food! We were given slips of paper with food items on them, and you had to choose what ingredients you wanted. I went for thin noodles, chicken, peppers, carrots, broccoli, bamboo and soy sauce, and it was delicious, definitely the healthiest thing I’ve even since arriving! We also had some brilliant cocktails, expensive, but well worth it. 🙂

On our final day, we headed to the Kram (I can’t remember the name of it), which was absolutely stunning. I was told that the Church was only built in 1990, which was staggering, as it was so detailed and grand. I have never seen such a new church in my life, but it was exactly like any other jawdropping cathedral. We then said goodbye to the Volgograd kids, and headed round a museum to do with Pushkin. None of us were really sure what the museum was about, but it was filled with staggering statues and beautiful artworks. We then headed back to the station, and we lucky enough to have beds on the way back. The overnight train was an experience. After spending ages finding our makeshift beds, we managed to befriend some 14 year old Russians, (probably only because they all fancied Mark, ha), and we played games with them for a lot of the journey. It was funny to speak Russian constantly again after a week of chatting in English, but we had a lot of fun, and it definitely made a boring train journey more exciting. We then tried to sleep in our beds, in which ironically I slept better in the chair on the way down. We returned at 5am this morning, waited for the metro to open, and headed home.

So that was my extended weekend in Moscow. I have barely slept and I am shattered. Hopefully I will be able to have a snooze now before Frisbee.

Hopefully I will have some time to write in this before my next reading week, where I will be heading back to Moscow to play Frisbee with Sockeye, one of the best teams in the USA. Whoopee!

Sorry if some of this doesn’t make sense, I’m SO tired.

Lots of Russki love,

Sarah xo

In my last blog, I briefly mentioned that I was surprised by Saint Petersburg. My first impressions were really good and I was blown away by the City. Now, two weeks on, I have seen Russia in a new light. I was told by many people beforehand about Russian horror stories and elements of Russian life that I should expect during my stay in SPB. Although I’ve only been here for just over 2 weeks, I think that I now have my own opinion of Russia and its people, and I have to say, most of these “horror stories” are completely untrue. I’ve harked on about how much I love Russia on Facebook and Twitter, but not really given any reason as to why. So, here is my explanation, along with those “horror stories” I was meant to be encountering..

Horror Story 1: You will live in a horrible flat with a grumpy old Hoziyanka, be fed disgusting food, and be expected to settle into Soviet Russian life.

I think this is so far from the truth it’s ridiculous, but I think this is mainly because my accommodation was sorted outside of RLUS. As I said last time, I live in a flat with Anna and her family. I share a room with Anna, who I really get on with, and live with her Mum, Stepdad and little sister Veronika, who is 4. Although I live quite far out of SPB (in the North of the City, an hours commute away from School), I really don’t mind, because I live with such a lovely family, in a lovely flat, in a fairly nice area. Plus, the hour commute to School gives me time to wake up and think about anything and everything. I can’t imagine living anywhere else and I am so happy with my accommodation. I’m sure some people haven’t been as lucky as I have, but overall, people seem to be enjoying their homestays, somewhat more than the people who are in the Hostel!

Russia 1 – Ridiculous Stereotypes – 0

Horror Story 2: Everyone in Russia is depressed.

Now I definitely thought this when I went to Yaroslavl 5 years ago. People looked miserable, were drinking on the streets, and you could tell that people in Yaroslavl hadn’t quite gotten over the Communist regime. Since coming to Saint Petersburg, I haven’t really encountered many people like those in Yaroslavl. Yes, people still drink on the streets, but I think that is mainly down to the 24 hour Supermarkets that sell stupidly cheap beer. Yes, no-one smiles, and yes, no-one makes eye contact with you, but by no means do I think people in Russia are depressed. I actually quite like the fact that no-one smiles at you. It’s exactly how I feel when I first wake up in the morning, so good on them. Although it does mean that if you ever start smiling for some reason, you do get stared at like there is something wrong with you. I think Russia has moved on from its past, and hopefully one day, a Russian will be able to crack a smile on the metro.

Russia 2 – Stereotypes – 0

Horror Story 3: You will find it ridiculously hard to make Russian friends.

I was told by the majority of students who went to SPB in first semester that they found it hard to find and make Russian friends, and that a lot of them left Russia disappointed because they didn’t feel like they had spoken enough Russian outside the classroom. Luckily, I had Frisbee on my side, and I was not going to let the stereotype and the language barrier stop me from playing. So on Wednesday I went to my first Frisbee session. The girl I had been emailing wasn’t there, so at first I stood alone watching people throw about. Soon enough, people approached me and started to ask me about myself, which was really kind, because even with my crappy Russian speaking skills, we still managed to make each other understood and have a nice little conversation, and it turned out that they were really nice! One of them even told me that he thought I was beautiful after 5 minutes, (which I was told later on by another player that he lacked social skills, poor guy). I then set up a Vkontakte account (equivilant to Russian Facebook) and now I have 14 friends, 11 of which are Russian, and 3 English, who actually talk to me every day and ask me how I am. I was brave, and went alone, and even though I was incredibly nervous and shy, I feel like I made a breakthrough personally with my language and my own courage! My social life has been set up. Job done.

Russia – 3, Sarah – 1, Stereotypes – 0

Horror Story 4: Russia is COLD.

I’m kind of disappointed that this horror story hasn’t really happened, because I wanted to see what -25 degrees felt like. We’ve had a fair amount of snow, and it’s been a bit nippy, (coldest has probably been -8), but I can’t help but think this is “warm” for Russia in February/March. Anna doesn’t seem to think that it will go back down to -25, so that’s Russian winter over for the year. Although the massive problem that SPB has now is the thaw. After months of snow and ice and the temperature rising, somethings gotta give. I was fairly close to my first trip to A+E this week when an icicle fell about a metre in front of me. And apparently I was not the first person to encounter a near miss. Last year, falling icicles killed 4 people in Saint Petersburg, so from now on, I’m going to avoid walking directly under buildings.  And another massive problem, (and the ONLY thing I hate about Saint Petersburg), is the ice. Because the temperature has been fluctuating, rain and snow has been semi solidifying in random places, making the pavements an absolute nightmare to walk on. You could be wearing the sturdiest boots in the world and they still won’t save you from falling. Unfortunately I fell victim to this yesterday after Frisbee when I slipped on a patch of black ice and fell straight onto my kneecaps. I now have the biggest bruises on my knees and I know have an irrational fear of pavements. Oh well, I survived 2 weeks without falling. I cannot wait for it to melt..

Russia – 3, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes, 0

Horror Story 5: Russia is not safe.

Obviously coming from Richmond and being in Sheffield for 2 years, Russia was always going to be unsafe in comparison. We have had many talks about safety here. Don’t wear low bags. Don’t walk anywhere along at night. Don’t carry excess money with you. All these talks and warnings made me feel really nervous when I got the metro for the time, and especially when I first went to Frisbee. I had the mentality that I was going to be mugged, attacked, and abducted in one fell swoop, but the reality is that people aren’t really that interested in you. If you look down, stay quiet, and keep walking, no-one is going to stop you. Obviously, there are some bad people in Russia, but I am yet to hear of one bad experience. You have to take precautions, but I actually feel fairly safe here. Hopefully that will relive some of you!

Russia – 4, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes, 0

Horror Story 6: Russia is corrupt.

We’ll find out tomorrow. But I’m going to go with yes.

Russia – 4, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes, 1

Horror Story 7: Russia will turn you into a cynical alcoholic, you’ll whine until the cows come home, and you will really miss home.

Firstly, much to the disappointment of one of my friends, I haven’t actually had any Vodka yet.. But in all seriousness, I can’t see myself hating Russia. I don’t actually miss England so to say, but I do really miss individuals. Saint Petersburg is so similar to bigger cities in England that I actually feel really at home here. And the complaining? I really hope that doesn’t happen. I am so happy with life right now that I don’t feel the need to nit pick and whine about SPB. Yes, Russia is different, but that was to be expected. I am loving every second here, and I hope that this will continue into June. 🙂

 

Final Results: Russia – 5, Sarah – 1, Ice – 1, Stereotypes – 1.

So, there you have it. Why I love Russia in less than 1500 words. I wish this was my essay..

I’m sure I will be updating you soon.

Lots of Russki love 🙂

Sarah xo

 

P.s. I would really like to thank everyone who reads my blog. A lot of you have given me great feedback and it really means a lot! Please feel free to spread the word and forward this on. 🙂

To think that I was in England last week is unbelievable. To even think that I lived in Austria this year feels like SUCH a distant memory. So much has happened in the last two weeks that my mind is just in such a daze, and after being in Saint Petersburg for nearly a week, I still can’t believe I’m here. I had such a brilliant time in England, and being home for such a short time actually gave me a big enough boost to get going on the next part of my adventure. And my, what an adventure I’m having.

 

I didn’t have high hopes for Saint Petersburg. I was even told by one friend “to go out with the mindset that you are going to be mugged, and if you don’t get mugged, that’s a bonus.” I had been to Russia once before, and being in Yaroslavl hadn’t painted a good picture of Russia in my head. When I got on the plane at Heathrow, I was incredibly nervous. I knew that I couldn’t leave once I arrived, I was leaving everything behind in England, and that my Russian is beyond crap. Being in Austria for 5 months has obviously been beneficial for my German, but heading to Russia knowing that you only knew the very basics was terrifying.  Once we landed, we waited for ages in what can only be described as a Soviet waiting room to get through Immigration. After they were convinced that I wasn’t a terrorist, I was met by my lovely host sister Anna, who took me to her flat. I sat in petrified silence in the car, just staring blankly into space. Leading up to her flat, all I could see was derelict buildings, and I started to panic. But when we pulled up to her flat, my jaw just dropped. Her flat, surrounded by other grotty apartment blocks, is gorgeous. Modern build, large rooms, I felt like I was in a hotel. I also walked straight into a birthday party, it was Anna’s little sister’s 4th birthday, and she was being showered with gifts left right and centre. I was launched straight into a long dinner, gorging on Caviar and Champagne, trying to settle the nerves. After not understanding a word, I quickly adjourned, preparing myself for what was yet to come.

 

After being given a brief tour of central Saint Petersburg on Sunday, it was time for my first day of School. Unfortunately because I hadn’t met the reps at the Airport (I had arranged my own accommodation), I didn’t know that the school was in a different location to what I thought. Cue mass panic on my side when I rocked up (late, thanks to trusting Russians with punctuality. Don’t,) to the wrong place. Apparently I had turned up at their offices, where NO-ONE spoke English. I was really overwhelmed and my poor poor Russian was failing to get through to the receptionist. I was just about to burst into tears when a big burly Russian man in the office told me he would take me to the right place. Lo and behold, he did, and I walked into a “WATCH OUT, YOU GUNNA GET KILLED” talk 40 minutes late. Good start. We then did a test to see how good our Russian was, and I seemed to surprise myself when the next day I found out that I was in group 4 out of 6, which has students who have been to Russia in 1st Semester and Post A-Level students in it, so I’ve given myself a bit of a challenge. I have only had one day of Uni so far, but I can’t wait to go back. I MISS STUDYING! (Geek. :|)

Another preconception I had about Russia was the food. I was subjected to Liver, Pasta and Carrots for Breakfast, and many other things that you just do not want to encounter at 8am.. But so far, I haven’t had that many problems. The only thing I’ve hated is Frankfurters, but I made the rookie error of “eating it to be polite” and now she keeps feeding me them. But otherwise I’ve had pasta, mash, meat, belinis (pancakes) and salad. Any horror stories involving food, and you’ll be first to know.

 

My main issue since getting here though has definitely been the language. You’d think after two years of University taught Russian that you would 1) Be able to have a conversation, 2) Be able to order anything anywhere and 3) Be able to make yourself understood. Apparently not. My host mum doesn’t speak English, and in the first few days Anna had to do a lot of pereviditing (translating). But yesterday, Anna went out. And I was alone in the flat with her mum. I decided that instead of shutting myself in my room, that I would try and improve Russian/English relations in the house. I sat at the dinner table, dictionary in hand, and everytime I didn’t understand her she would write down the Russian and I would look it up. In the end, I was there “talking” for about 30/40 minutes. If anyone had seen us, they would have laughed, but I think she really appreciated it at the end, and now she likes me a lot more. Woohoo. If I can completely get rid of the dictionary come June time, that will be a huge achievement for me.

 

What can I say? Saint Petersburg has surprised me. Beautiful, VERY westernised, (went to Galeria today, a shopping centre in the middle, and it had  ALL English clothes shop and even a COSTA COFFEE!) and exciting. Am I scared about being in Russia now? No. Am I excited to explore and get involved in Russian life? YES!

 

Next week may include: My first Frisbee session, whacking fellow students with sticks, and why Razgovor may be the bain of my life.

Here’s a pretty picture. With my ugly face ruining it.

For now, Poka. 🙂

An incredibly happy,

Sarah xo

The To-Do List – Revisited

February 10, 2012

It’s 7.46am and I have 5 hours left in Innsbruck. My time has finally come to an end. I am absolutely devastated and it hasn’t quite hit me yet. When I first left for Innsbruck I was really skeptical and nervous, I didn’t want to leave home and the idea of living in a foreign speaking country for 5 months scared the hell out of me. But now, I am a completely different person. I am so much more independent, so much stronger, and have a new found sense of confidence. I am hoping to bring these to the table in Russia as well, instead of the nervous, reclusive person I once was.

 

So, as promised, I said that I would revisit the to-do list the day I left. Here goes.

1. Finish my project by the end of January and get a 1st/high 2.1 in it.

*skips over this one like I haven’t seen it…*

2. Seriously improve my spoken German.

If I could have a semi wobbly line to cross this out, then I would. My spoken German is my worst flaw and I often find myself in a fluttery mess when it comes to speaking. I personally didn’t feel like I’d improve much, but my family and people at Frisbee say I have, and I had a few major breakthroughs this week with my spoken German. So I’m going to say that I did do this, but I still want to improve.

3.  Make the most of this Christmas with family and friends.

I barely stayed home for the majority of Christmas because I was SOOOO busy seeing everyone! I had a brilliant time at home for the Christmas period, and I really enjoyed going to Birmingham and Ultimate Resolution, as well as visiting my best friends. So this definitely happened. Time to do it again this week!

4. Be Happier

This is my proud achievement so far. I was SO grumpy and SO miserable in the last months of 2011, but 2012 has been brilliant. I have not had one day where I’ve thought “I just wanna go home, I hate Austria.” and overall I have been really positive and outgoing. Life is so much better and I think that is due to the fact that I am not 100% clued in with whats going on in England. This will end up happening in Russia because of the 4 hour time difference, but going out constantly and not being stuck to my computer 24/7 has really helped. May this continue through to Russia. 🙂

5. Finish at the checkout faster than the cashier.

THIS. HAPPENED. It actually happened just before Christmas when I bought copious amounts of Fritt for Jake. I stuffed it all in my bag before she charged me and I definitely did a little fist pump when I left..

6. Take on more of a handler role at Frisbee.

Hmm, this kind of happened but once again Flying Circus tend to have set handlers and I didn’t want to break the mould. Maybe I’ll try in Russia.

7. Do ALL the ski slopes that are valid on my Freizeit card AT LEAST once.

As I said in November, I knew this one was slightly optimistic. Never the less, I used my Freizeit card to my full advantage, and went to the majority of the slopes that were available to me. My best boarding days were easily in Seefeld, St Anton and Axamer Lizum. If I come back in the Winter then I will definitely be hitting these up again. 🙂

8. Get better at Ice Skating.

After I wrote this, I did not go Ice Skating once. Whoops.

9. Be sick at Snowboarding. (well, maybe not SICK.)

In comparison to the stumbling mess I was at the beginning of the Ski Season and to what I am now, I have improved VASTLY. I can now turn with ease and not fall over, I can go down reds, I did go down a black :O and I have gathered speed. I’m not as fast as the best skiiers, but I don’t think I’d be left being anymore. This makes me feel good 🙂

10. Visit a few more people.

Whoops. In fact more people visited ME instead of seeing them! I had Phil and Aimee to stay and it was lovely to see them 🙂 Plus I think they enjoyed the amazing scenery and landscape of Innsbruck!

11. Possibly not murder the youngest child.

I don’t think we’ve left on good terms. He threw a massive hissy fit last night when we were playing cards. And he’s still an annoying little brat. Would be interesting to meet him when he’s my age though. Then he might have grown up a bit..

12. Send some Christmas postcards!

God damn it..

13. Prepare for Russia…

I suppose I’ve prepared the best I can. I have actually done some revision and I’ve sorted out accommodation and a frisbee team, so it’s not all that bad! Getting my visa this week. 8 days to go! EEEP!

 

14. Make a few important life decisions.

People here keep asking me what I want to be when I’m older. They’re so shocked that I am studying 3 languages that they all say that the world is my oyster. And I’ve been thinking. I know I don’t want to be a teacher, and I don’t want to go into tourism. I’m still hooked on the idea of being a journalist. And I still want to do the Master course in Holland. The more I think about it, the more I want it. So I think I have semi made a decision about what I should do after Uni. I’ve still got two years to go though, so anything can happen.

 

So I completed 7/14 things. I did half! Whoops. I thought I might have achieved more..

 

So, this is it Innsbruck. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I am leaving on a massive high. I love you so much and I’m going to miss you and everyone I have met here. Auf Wiedersehen. x

 

Till next time (probably in Russia!)

Sarah xo

On the way home one day from Snowboarding, I was sat with Peter, and we were in a really giggly mood. Peter said that he needed to write a blog for his University but he hadn’t even started yet. We spoke about what he could write, and decided that an A-Z of Austria was fairly fitting. This led to us thinking up a billion stupid ideas for his blog, and now, I literally can’t remember anything we agreed on. (Stupid air, making us all silly and stuff.)

So I’ve decided to make my own A-Z, (Sorry Peter, stole your idea), including my own experiences and things to watch out for in Austria. There’s some letters where I could think of a billion things, and some letters were I just blanked. Those ones will be fairly obvious.

So, let’s begin.

A is for Accents

Stupid Austria. When someone said to me that Austrians had an accent, I kind of brushed it off. “Meh, it will be alright, I’ll get the jist.” Lo and behold, the first few weeks were mainly me going “Wuuh? Was? Ich verstehe nicht.” to something as easy as “Where do you come from?” Maybe I’m just stupid, but there is definately a difference. Hopping over into Munich for the weekend last week was a welcome surprise, as I could literally understand everyone word for word, and I didn’t have to listen like a hawk. For example, personal pronouns kind of vanish into thin air. “Ich” becomes “i”, “Dich” becomes “di” and so on and so forth. “machen (to do)” becomes mochen, which sounds a lot like “moechten (to like)” and then my brain has a spazz attack and tunes out. This happens with a few words and verbs, but that’s just an example. But it also means that Austria has it’s own special phrases too, which is pretty cute. So you can’t always complain. But I’m getting used to it now.

B is for Buses

I seem to live on them nowadays. I have to get the bus into town, where my ticket is always checked, but I can’t get over how lenient the bus companies are here.  You often hear about cities like Munich and Berlin where they like to catch Ghost Riders out, but in my whole time of being in Innsbruck, I have not seen ONE patrol. You can stroll onto a bus with great ease and not even pay for weeks on end. I do, because I get checked on the way home, but I can’t fathom how much money the bus company loses every year because of this.

C is for Communication

I have had some serious communication fails here. Once forgot to mention to one woman where I wanted picking up so she just drove round and round my village for ages. Once I asked for a drink and he thought I was asking for a car (since when did Getraenke and Auto sound THE SAME!?!?!”) and general misunderstandings. It still happens today. Now I just put up with it.

D is for Disasters.

Have also had a few disasters here too. Not finding anywhere to live. Having to babysit children. Getting my wallet stolen. Having some really awful lessons. Getting stranded in Innsbruck.  A Year Abroad is not a Year Abroad without some form of disaster happening to you. I’ve just had to pick myself up, brush myself down, and carry on. Sometimes it’s been really hard, but now it’s a breeze.

E is for English

Can’t comprehend how much better the Austrian’s English is in comparison to my German. It’s actually insulting. I wish England could take a leaf out of Germany and Austria’s book. We’re getting this wrong.

F is for Family

Austrians loooooooveeee their family. I’m hoping that everyone reading this also loves their family. But it seems that everything revolves around family here. Students go home every weekend to see their parents. Adults bring their kids to Frisbee training. Family is everything, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

G is for Gluehwein

Yay! Everyone’s favourite hot alcohol. Gluhwein with Amaretto is DA BOMB. And cheap too! 😀

H is for Heimweh (or Homesickness)

I don’t know why but before I left here I kind of thought that I wouldn’t get homesick at all, just because I never do when I’m in Sheffield. But when you move countries, then it’s a completely different story. I am a very social person, and it feels strange not to talk to my best friends face to face every day. I have moaned a bit. And now I completely regret it. The only reason I was homesick was because my brain was stuck in the UK and my body was in Austria. I look back now and kind of hate myself for feeling that way. In reality, things weren’t THAT bad and I’m seeing things on such a level playing field now, so in all honesty I feel like a bit of a moron. I will probably get homesick in Russia but I hope to deal with it differently next time round.

I is for Instinct

I have learnt to follow my instinct here, and 99.9% of the time, I am right. If no teacher contacts you, you need to prepare a whole lesson. If you’re being ignored by a friend, there’s a reason you’ve completely overlooked. If something gets planned last minute, it will probably end up being cancelled. If you ask someone to meet you at 8, they’ll turn up 15 minutes later. This is Austria for you.

J is for the Jugend-Winterspiele (Of the Olympic kind..)

This is part of my project but I also got to experience this in the last 2 weeks, and I have to say, I feel incredibly sorry for the competitors. Not because the event wasn’t good, but the lack of audience and support was evident. When I asked my students whether they were going, nearly all of them said they didn’t care, which is a complete shame, because I thought it was a truely historical event for Austria as well as Sport. Team GB won Silver in the Bobsleigh, and managed to get a Gold in the “Mixed Speed Skating” (I.e. One GB guy with some Koreans, end of), which, for GB, is probably the best they were going to do. So hats off to them. I enjoyed it. Now I’m trying to obtain a Jacket, which are “limited edition”… harder than I thought..

K is for Krampus

This blog was meant to be written before Christmas, mainly because of Krampus. Krampus happens along side St Nikolaus Day, and is intended to punish the naughty children of Austria. Teenage boys dressed up as scary devils and whacked (and I mean whacked) children, adults, and me, very hard with twig branches. My host father said that normally they went for girls. And they did. 4 smacks, a bruised arse and sore legs. I got off “lightly..”

L is for Lurrrrrvvvvveee

A few plucky assistants managed to find themselves a partner to keep them company for the last few months. Not me, but I don’t mind. Seeing people getting together is fairly cute, as long as it’s not thrown in my face!

M is for Maturaballs

Maturaballs are a big thing in the life of an Austrian teen, and are often incredibly formal and prestigious. Equivalent  to the English prom, the Maturaball is an opportunity for students to celebrate and let their hair down before they start exams, except they all seem to happen in January. Mine is this Saturday, and I still haven’t got a ticket because I’m umming and aahing about whether to go. I like this school the most, but the idea of hanging around with teachers for the night doesn’t float my boat, especially when the Uniball is also on. I probably will go. Just to say I’ve been.

N is for negativity

To say I was fairly negative in 2011 is probably an understatement. People who ‘ve seen my Twitter in the last 3 months know this. Now I’ve been seeing everything in a positive attitude, and things have been brilliant. Therefore, some advice. Things often go wrong. Just smile your way through it, and things will only get better.

O is for Oestterreich!

Okay, I cheated, I can’t think of an O straight off. But hey, I’ve fallen in love with this country, and it will always have an incredibly special place in my heart. I will return. Someday.

P is for Participation

If you don’t join in, you won’t make friends. If you don’t say yes to every invitation, you’re going to be alone. One thing I have learned, no matter how tired or lazy you are feeling, you need to keep going, because it’s the only way you can get the most out of this experience.

R is for RUSSIANS

Oooo they’re everywhere now. You’d think this would be prime opportunity to whack out my amazing linguistic skills (please note the sarcasm) but they are incredibly strange characters. Best thing I read the other day about a Russian tourist was that after a massive dump of snow in Ischgl, a Russian millionaire called in a helicopter to come land in metre deep snow to come pick him up. Oh Russia. I can’t wait.

S is for Snowboarding

I could have had SO many S’s here. The fact that the snow is the deepest I’ve ever seen, the fact that we had sun for 40 days and 40 nights (not even kidding), and the fact that, Sarah, begins with an S. But I went for ye olde Snowboarding, because I cannot get over how much I love it. Yes, I fall over, and yes, it hurts, but the thrill I get from Snowboarding just cannot be beaten. I’ll probably go tomorrow. And on Friday, and the next day, and the next… I am an ADDICT. Love it.

T is for Teaching

I have had some massive up and down moments when it’s come to teaching. Most of the downs have been in the Abendschule, and I am disappointed that they didn’t really use me to the full extent. But there are genuinely some classes in the APP that I am going to miss. Some of the teachers have also been brilliant to me, and I can’t help but think that I might even miss it. Teaching has been going really well recently, so I hope to end on a high, but one thing is for sure, I have definitely erased Teaching from my future career’s list!

U is for Ultimate Frisbee (of course…)

Firstly, it was a fairly obvious choice for a U, and secondly, I couldn’t think of anything else, but Flying Circus (the Austrian team) have really taken me under their wing. I go to all the trainings, and have tried to play against some of the boys in order to improve for next year. I only managed to play two tournaments with them, but I really enjoyed them, and I’m incredibly gutted to be leaving. Most, if not all, of my Austrian friends are from Frisbee. So hopefully I’ll be able to play with them again in the future. But for now, Safe Flying Sexy Circus!

V is for Vanillakrapfen

Vanillakrapfen are doughnuts stuffed with Vanilla cream, and they are literally the most delicious things ON THIS PLANET. I might even go as far to say that I may miss Vanillakrapfen more than my parents in Russia… 😛

W is for Wolleyball, Wery, and any other words that Austrian kids can’t pronounce…

Austrian kids find it absolutely impossible to get the “v” sound right. Apparently it’s not very obvious in their linguistic development as children, but even after countless corrections, they STILL can’t get it right. It drives me bonkers. Teachers don’t seem to think it’s all that important, and the kids just don’t notice. One thing is for sure, I’m not going to miss hearing “I’m going to Wolleyball” from the kids…

X is for… Xenophobia (and you all thought I wouldn’t get an X. HA.)

Not that Austrian’s have anything against England people, but they HATE the Germans and they HATE the Turks. Austria doesn’t like being associated with Germany and I don’t blame them. To be referred to as “Germany’s little sister” must get annoying, but I do feel bad for my Turkish students. In the nightschool, I would say 70% of the students are Turkish, and Austrians are sometimes quite open about what they think about them. And in the dayschool? Absolutely none. Not one. They would be lamb to the slaughter. One day, Austria might accept them more openly, but for now, they are the enemy.

Y is for Yodeling

Yodelieyhi yodelayhee yodelaHEEEHOOOO!!!!

(Alright, I didn’t have a Y. Leave me alone okay?)

And Z is for Zipfer

It’s beer. Don’t drink it. It’s nasty.

 

 

 

 

 

I made it to the end. Wow. Like, a month after I started writing it. Who knew?

My next blog will be my last in Austria. Be prepared for the hankies.

And if you haven’t already read it, please check out this article I wrote for thirdyearabroad. http://www.thirdyearabroad.com/german/item/1059-mole-in-innsbruck.html

2 weeks left, let’s make the most of it!

With love,

Sarah xo

 

Oh, and a small NB..

January 2, 2012

This is only aimed at people who follow me on Twitter.

Sometimes, I go a bit overboard. I have a bad day, and a lot of naughty words spill onto my Twitter page. It’s bad, it’s wrong, and it needs to stop. So another New Year’s Resolution (along with marrakoosh and Pelekophoros) is to stop swearing on Twitter. If you catch me with a rude word, and print screen to prove it, I will donate £1 for every profanity to GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital).

(This is not an opportunity for family members to start following me, catching me out, and telling me off.)

This also my give me incentive to cut down on my tweeting. If I don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it.

Maybe I can do some good for someone this year. Here goes.

Follow @charityswearbot to check on us..

With love.

Sarah. xo

It’s the 2nd of January, 2012, and I’m currently sat in bed thinking about this blog. Every year, I write about my year somewhere on the Internet and summarise my life in 12 months. This year is going to be so difficult to sum up. Mainly because a LOT has happened, it mainly happened in late 2011, and I have a  memory of a fish. Thank God for the Facebook timeline, now I can super Facebook  stalk myself and hopefully be able to pad out the earlier months.

So here we go. Take a deep breath. Here is my 2011. (In hopefully less than 2000 words.)

January 2011

Not gunna lie, without Facebook, this month would probably be a massive … because I really can’t remember much. I had spent New Year’s with my family Skiing in Italy, and as per usual, I had a blast. We normally spend New Year’s together, so it was nice to have a massive billion course meal and then dress up for Skiing the next day. Another thing that happened in January was exams. I spent a LOT of time in Western Bank (and I’m not just saying this just because I know my Dad will read this and I want him to think I worked, I REALLY DID.) and spent a long part of January writing essays and revising for my exams. Unfortunately I didn’t do as well as I hoped, and I was incredibly disappointed for the amount of work I put in.

*checks Facebook timeline* – Yes, this confirms everything. There’s a LOT of statuses about exams, revision, and how much I want to blow my head off. And I seemed to take a lot of pictures of myself. Sigh. I now understand how I annoying I was (and probably am), back then.

HA! Facebook also reminded me of York Indoors when I drove Dante and Dave Ray round and round York looking for a Burger King and then our Sat Nav taking us to a Burger King which was actually a field. Ha. :’)

Song of the Month: Only One Listening – Martin Grech. A sombre, mellow song, but still  a massive personal favourite. Check it out.

February 2011

The main thing about this month was the end of the indoor Frisbee season, which was Mix and Mingle. I played for Naughty Strawberries, the alumni team for Sheffield, which at first I think a few people were weary about. I’d only been playing for just over a year at this point, and I did have a habit of dropping things and making silly decisions. But I decided that I wanted to go out of the season with a bang and played my heart out. And coincidentally, I did play really really well. The tournament itself was really good fun, and the party after was also fantastic, with Dante, Ami and I dressing up as Kiss.

I’m also pretty sure there were a lot of nights out and me making a few stupid decisions. And starting new modules on my course. So essentially, a bit of a boring month.

What Facebook says: Nothing, because it’s just jammed on me. Stupid technology.

Oh no, Facebook also confirms I didn’t have much of a life in February. Sigh. This blog is nowhere near as exciting as I hoped. Maybe I’ll have to start posting cute videos of kittens to pad this out a little.

Song of the Month: Drinking in LA – Bran Van 3000. An oldie.

March 2011

Once again, this is also major hazy. I remember going to see Does it Offend You, Yeah? in Leadmill and absolutely LOVING it. It was a tiny gig in a small venue and everyone was absolutely pumped. This was also the same day as results day, and I remember being severely disappointed. Another memory (or not such a clear memory) in March was our house’s impromptu visit to Monday Corp. I remember this being one of the best nights out of the year, just because it was so random and we were all having an absolute blast. Plus I took my camera out and the photos were just hideous. Brilliant.

What Facebook says: “I’m not even gunna bother loading for you because you know nothing happened so why are you even checking?”

Thanks Facebook.

Song of the Month: Wrestler (This is the Dance) – Does it Offend You, Yeah?

This song is still my alarm, (much to a few peoples dislike), SUCH a tune. Proper gets me excited for a night out.

April 2011

This is definitely where things start to pick up. Quite a lot happened this month. First of, was the Sauerkraut Cup, the football league for all Universities that study German. Sheffield went with high hopes, entering 4 teams. My team, which was mainly 2nd years, was actually a very good team individually, but unfortunately, we couldn’t pull it together as a team, and we were booted out fairly early in the competition. Luckily, other Sheffield teams were a lot better than us, and the final ended up being Sheffield v Sheffield. So we won the tournament and came back to Sheffield on a massive high. The party was also brilliant, although there seemed to be a bit of controversy which still hasn’t been solved today. As well as Sauerkraut, it was my second year of going on Tour to Rimini with Phat ‘Eds. We headed out on our 30 hour coach trip, (of which I slept for 3 hours, sigh) and turned up to find out that we only had one other opponent, Bath University. Although this was disappointing, we managed to play a lot of Frisbee, and had a massive blast with them. The parties were also ridiculous, with a LOT of gossip, stories, and nicknames being brought  back with us to England. Tour once again was brilliant, but in a completely different fashion to the year before. I am 100% devastated that I can’t go this year, but I hope that it is still as good for those who do go.

What Facebook says: There are a LOT of photos from Tour. None of them complimentary. Best photo: Me and Dante dressed as Pikachu and Dennis the Menace. What a night.

Song of the Month: Shellshock – Noisia. The tune used to dub the Rimini video, beautifully edited by Gavin May.

May 2011

This was a month filled with exams and Frisbee. We played Mixed Outdoor Nationals, which was just awful, due to horrendous weather and matches getting cancelled meaning that we couldn’t get Plate. Mixed Tour also happened around May time. Exams mainly took up my life, so this is going to be a stupidly short entry.

What Facebook says: “Kill me, I haz exams.”

Song of the Month: None Shall Pass – Aesop Rock. Fab tune.

June 2011

June, and exams had finished and I finally hit the dizzying heights of 20. Once again, I played a lot of Frisbee, including Open Tour and Durham Hat. This was my first hat tournament, and the first tournament that was actually within 30 minutes from home! I played with Forest Green, and met some brilliant Frisbee players along the way. Once again, I am gutted that I can’t go this year, but hopefully I will be able to play with some of those people again, because I had a blast. Turning 20 wasn’t very exciting either. I can’t even remember what I did to celebrate. All in all, June was an incredibly relaxing month.

What Facebook says: I got STUPIDLY sunburnt at Open Tour, but not as badly as Dante. LOL.

Song of the Month: Wash – Bon Iver

July 2011

Once again, July was a relaxing month, but July was when I really started to get into my use of Twitter. I “met” a few people online, who have been incredibly supportive throughout the year, and was enjoying talking to new people and making some friends. Once again, I played even MORE Frisbee, and started to plan for my Year Abroad. I also set off for Bulgaria and Greece, which was an absolutely brilliant holiday. I think I spent a lot of July daydreaming, being quietly satisfied with myself.

What Facebook says: I started my blog this month! And I did nothing but watching TV and tweet people. Nice.

Song of the Month: Bats in the Attic – King Cresote and Jon Hopkins. This isn’t my song of the month, it’s my song of the year. It does remind me of someone, but everytime I listen to it, I just can’t help but smile.

August 2011

After ending my holiday, I flew back to London to see Justin and Jake. I was treated to Legoland, tours of London, and a lot of food and drink. I also went to Edinburgh Fringe Festival to watch my sister’s play, and also saw Max, an old friend who I have known for years, do his play called Sodom. My eyes might have been slightly scarred, but Edinburgh was once again brilliant. I spent a lot of time travelling between London and home, and also visited a lot of friends before heading off to Leeds Festival. I decided to go as a volunteer and it was absolutely brilliant. I had fun dishing out teas and coffee, and managed to see all the bands I wanted to see. I also met a lot of brilliant people who made the stewarding experience way more bearable!

In summary, August was my best month of the year. I only have good memories of the Summer holidays.

What Facebook says: “HELP. I’M GOING AWAY SOON.”

Song of the Month: One Day like This – Elbow. They were brilliant at Leeds.

September 2011

September was well documented in my blog, so here is just a summary. London, Sheffield Hat, the best weekend EVER, leaving for Innsbruck, not finding anywhere to live, Oktoberfest, saying goodbye to everyone, and saying ta-ra to England.

What Facebook says: I have nowhere to live, and other Year Abroad moans.

Song of the Month: Free – Twin Atlantic

October 2011

October was when I started to settle into Innsbruck, and started to find my feet. I played Frisbee with Flying Circus, and came back to England to surprise my friends in Sheffield for Sheffield Beginners. Teaching also started this month. Unfortunately.

(You can sense these getting shorter and shorter.. I did write a lot in October, maybe you should read back if you want to know more. And I’m starting to get tired..)

What Facebook says: All the quips about teaching, and the stupid things my teachers did/said. Win.

Song of the Month: This Sweet Love – James Yuill.

November 2011

November was easily the worst month of the year, because I was absolutely miserable. I felt like I’d fallen out with the family I was staying with, I had really bad homesickness, I was really missing my friends, and I just felt like I was being ignored by my “friends” at home. This meant I spent a lot of time in my home, alone, overthinking everything, tweet a lot of emo stuff, and feeling awful. I wish I’d done things differently, but in summary, November was rubbish, and it was all my fault.

What Facebook says: Can’t be bothered to look but I know I spent more time on Twitter than Facebook, and i’d like to apologise to anyone who follows me for my excessive emo tweeting. Sorry.

Song of the Month: Goodbye Lenin! – Yann Tiersen.

December 2011

December improved tenfold after I decided to forget about home. As much as I love my friends, knowing what they did every two seconds really didn’t help me move on from England and enjoy my time in Austria. I started to get on with the family a lot better, and I spent more time having fun with the assistants in Innsbruck. I also spent a lot of time Snowboarding, and then set off home for England. In the past week, I have had an absolute blast. It has been none stop and I have enjoyed every second of being home. Ultimate Resolution was unbelievable and I have never had such a good new year. Christmas with the family was fab. December was fab.

What Facebook says: “ME PLANES BEEN CANCELLED.” And other travelling dramas.

Song of the Month: Signs – Bloc Party.

And now, it’s January. I have another week in England, which is starting to fill up with plans very quickly. 2011 had it’s ups and downs but I met some amazing people along the way. I am really looking forward to starting the next chapter of my Year Abroad, Russia, and I can’t wait to start 4th year. 🙂

My Resolutions for 2012? Stop biting my nails. And be more positive.

If you have read this all the way through, then thank you. Thank you for making this year even better than I thought it could ever be.

Eep. Word count slightly over 2000 words. Sorry.

I wish you all a happy new year.

With love.

Sarah xo

As the snow falls..

December 22, 2011

It’s the 22nd of December, and I’m going home today. I cannot believe that the time has finally come for me to come home. Getting on the plane for the first time at Manchester feels like yesterday. My first 2 weeks however feels like ages ago. Time has played funny tricks on me and now as I finish packing, I’ve realised that time has actually whizzed past. I have been here for 3 months. 3 MONTHS. The longest I’ve been away from home alone. Before, it was only two weeks. That seems so measly now. My last two weeks have absolutely flown by, and a massive part of me is absolutely devastated to be leaving, but the other part is screaming on the inside, ready to go home. I’m scared that I might die of a heart attack on the plane due to excitement. Let’s hope not. I couldn’t sleep last night. I had so many thoughts running through my head and just couldn’t settle. Home, Family, Christmas, New Year. As I said, 2 weeks is nothing, but I’m definitely going to make the most of it whilst I’m home.

It has also dawned on me today that I only have a month left in Innsbruck when I get back, and I am absolutely gutted. Yes, I hate teaching, but everything else is just so worthwhile. The relationship with my family has picked up tenfold, and I have made some good friends through Frisbee. I have one massive regret though since coming here. I wish I tried harder, and moaned less. I had a massive dip in November and all I wanted to do was come home, and I felt that I was left out of things here and at home. My body was in Innsbruck, but my brain was still transfixed on things that were happening in England. When I finally realised that things at home were really not worth at second thought, that’s when I really started to enjoy myself. Obviously, I’ve missed my friends, but I felt that every small interaction with someone from England was really vital, and I would be devastated if people just ignored me. In the past month, I’ve let go of a lot of things holding me down, and now, I feel brilliant. I just wish that this had happened in October or something,  so I could have really made the most of my time here. And I wish I didn’t moan so much, especially on Twitter. I was really miserable but it was my own fault. If i had just gone out and enjoyed myself, I wouldn’t have done all of that. So, Innsbruck, I owe you an apology. I’m sorry that I moaned about you. I take it all back.

 

So, the time has come. Time to be reunited with friends, family, and most of all, Dr Pepper. 😉

England, from today to the 9th of January, you are MINE.

See you all so so soon!

An INCREDIBLY excited,

Sarah xo