Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Staging my own intervention; 'If it is to be...

... it is up to me.'

Cliched, huh?  That's certainly what I thought 2 years ago when this was trotted out by someone at the Boys' school in a speech made to children and parents at the start of term.  And yet, I heard it again yesterday - from the same person - and it struck a chord.

Expats everywhere will know peers who refuse to engage with their local environment.  They hide away from the reality of where they are living, simply existing from one holiday to the next, and not venturing out to see what lies beyond their temporary front door.

I get that.  I understand that.  We all feel like that sometimes.  And I have to admit, I'm struggling at the moment.  Struggling to regain my equilibrium in a hard-to-live-in city, in a country that I don't know I'll still be living in one year from now, 1500 miles from my family and friends.  

We just returned from a fantastic break with a summer spent taking it slowly, away from the battle of the daily Moscow grind.  Sure, I was still food shopping, cooking and washing, sorting socks, packing and unpacking and repacking every week or so, travelling through airports, train stations and car hire outlets,  fitting in 6 months' worth of dental and doctors appointments, stocking up on any school uniforms, children's shoes and underwear we are likely to need before Christmas, and then working out how the hell to cram it all into our suitcases and stay within the weight limit for the airlines, but ultimately we were on holiday, and somehow that made it all OK.

Now, though, we're back in Moscow and even though the thermometer hit 27degC today, I know that in around 8 short weeks we'll have freewheeled down and be bumping along the bottom of the scale for a short while before we nose-dive below 0degC around mid-November and then don't come up above it again until the middle of April next year.

Add to that the fact that the start of the school year is earlier here than it is back home - we're in the first week of term already - and despite the fact that I'm majorly in denial about the shortness of the summer (wearing every short sleeved dress I own in turn until it's too damn cold not to), I'm already experiencing GroundHog Day type symptoms.


I may have less than one year left in Russia.  That in itself is a scary thought (what - and where - next?), but I refuse to let this year pass in blur of worry and wishing I was somewhere else.  Why live somewhere like this, surrounded by the wonderful people I do, if you don't push yourself out there and experience it all properly?  

So I'm staging my own intervention.  I've signed myself up for a months' 4 hours a day, 5 days a week Russian course (the straw that broke the camel's back on this one was not being able to understand a telephone operator at the company we buy our drinking water from - not my finest moment after living here nearly 4 years), so that whatever else happens in the next 10 months or so, I may at least be able to make myself understood.

I am going to enjoy this year.  I am.  But like the man said; if it is to be...


  1. Good for you. One of the things that I think is really positive about the expat experience, is that you have to try harder. And though that is tiring, we all know that the more you put into life, the more you get out of it.

  2. Crikey - very brave. The thought of studying anything for 4 hours a dray, 5 days a week makes me want to lie down!

  3. I'm sure you'll do *much* better with Russian than I have done with Korean. I use as my excuse the fact that I spend 90% of my time speaking German anyway, so when I leave work, I feel like I've already ticked the 'foreign language' box for the day. (It's bizarre to think that when I moved here my major concern was that I would lose my fluency in German. If anything, my English is suffering these days.)

  4. You'll do fab and in a few months time you'll be so pleased you had an intervention you'll be doing them on everyone!

  5. Sounds like a brilliant challenge. I assume you can drink a lot of vodka while you study it?

  6. Iota, I certainly hope so. Although I have to admit that after I attempted the placement assessment last night (to determine which class I go into) I was totally disheartened by how rubbish my Russian is...

    EPM, me too. Do you think they'll notice if I take a quick nap at the back of the class?

    MsC, I think you can totally ignore Korean under the circumstances!

    PW - we'll see...

    Melissa, oh yes. Of course...

  7. Is it REALLY FOUR yrs already. Oh weh, I can't believe it. Well, you are certainly getting out there, FOUR hrs, FIVE days a wk for a MONTH. Dedication & commitment. well done you! All the best. & it's the best thing,learning another language, for staving off middle age brain/senility/Alzheimers etc:o) Tho that's prob not a v helpful comment...
    I feel for u wth the post holiday blues, and the deep breath one has to take before plunging in again. It can be tiring just in prospect can't it?

  8. I used to feel this in Finland - that you don't know how long you'll be there so is it really worth investing so much energy into making it home. It's a weird situation to be. But I think you're making the right decision. Flipping eck mate, that's pretty damned impressive really. Good luck x

  9. Have fun learning Russian! And enjoy your last year (though you did say you'd be back last year). x


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