Officially a junior

Today marks the day of the beginning of my junior year.

Honestly speaking that I had a little nerve crack down a fews days before, but being connected with some old acquaintances calmed me down a bit. Regardless, it’s good to see them, despite that we were not super close.

I guess, at this point, I’ll just accept the fact that people come and go all the time.Whoever stays I appreciate, yet I will not put any expectation on it.

And stop thinking(=aka worrying) about everything. Friendship, academic life, internship, career path, future whatsoever.

Just live. In the moment.

I guess the biggest lesson I learned in Russia is that no one knows what tomorrow’s gonna be like. It can frustrates you, excites you, worries you, inspires you, ANYTHING is possible, and there’s not any set track to follow.

Back in my mind I always feel like life is a set path where I go to school, college, apply to job, work, marriage, have a family, then kids, then repeat. Life is not like this. It is full of surprises. It makes me feel unsure about everything; yet it is because of such uncertainty that we can really HOPE for more, something unexpected.

Maybe a MIRACLE awaits. 

With that terrible week in Petersburg and lots of warmhearted stories(e.g., Fedya, Katja, rooftop, planetarium, coffee in the rain, kid in the playground, Yulia, etc) that happened along the way, I can firmly say this–

Embrace the uncertainty. 

 

I definitely grew up a lot during my stay in Moscow, a city that challenged me at the same time granted me courage. At the end of day, I feel empowered as confidence emerges from where I stand. That confidence in me is real, and I’m no longer faking it.

I was still feeling a little bit awkward when I walked into that super small Armenian History class today, as I’m the only Asian/International students there. All those Turkish names of places and people that threw at me in class made me somewhat nervous about the class ahead. That reading heavy/tough graded 300 level Econ too. I’ve noticed my tendency to fall into that tight routine again, trying to spend every single minute(after class) on school work, and not taking it easy. Even during the break I just can’t let myself go.

It is not right. There’s gotta be a better way of doing this.

 

 

Probably I was too anxious, at least I notice it, early enough this time, so that I won’t bend until the break, like what happened in my last two years.

I guess that’s why I’m writing now, taking a REAL break here, and I’ll plunged into tons of reading afterwards.

My first priority this semester is just to take care about myself by living a good, healthy life. All the rest, doesn’t really matter in the long run.

Поживем  Увидем. (Live and See)

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a while

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything on this site. The past sophomore year has been busy, anxious, yet somehow a strain of light shined through that supported me till this point.

It’s kinda hard to believe, that Albania was a year ago, Montenegro was a year ago.  Voskopoje, Tirana, Gjirokaster, Saranda, Berat, Kruja, Durres, Kotor, Cecinja, Podgoria…all these names, I sometimes feel like I left my heart there, on that mysterious yet fascinating    Balkan.

I shall go back someday.

It’s hard to believe in a couple of days I’ll head off to Moscow, starting a new adventure there. To be honest, I haven’t fully prepared as I have to confess that I’m afraid. Not only because I will be completely on my own this time, but also, my Russian skill is, till this day, far from able to deal with government red-tape and custom hassle. I could possibly be a good tourist, and that’s pretty much it. Last week I spent an HOUR drafting an email in Russian to Ilya, who’s going to pick me up at the aeroexpress station; yet I have no idea where I’m going to stay for the first night. The manager of the summer university hasn’t replied to me at all, and I was worried. I simply don’t know what could happen, if everything fails.

But I spent more than 2 months for the visa invitation letter, almost a month for the admission. It’s not surprising that they would possibly procrastinate until the last moment. Well, well, I hope it’s all worth the wait.

Все хорошо, что хорошо кончается.(All is well that ends well)

Peace out. Peace out. Peace out. I told myself.

Just rants and raves.

 

 

Trip to Pogradec, Korca,Voskopoje, 2015.6.7–6.9

I’m not being very productive these days not because I don’t want to, but I’m still waiting for a chance to discuss my potential travel products with Nancy. Hopefully next week I’m gonna get this done. Anyways I tried to occupy myself with something serious to do, so I finish translating the Butrint Brochure, and start reading on Via Egnatia. Last week we had a group meeting and Auron divided us into two groups, one on Sasani and one on Via Egnatia, which obviously is a more interesting project to work on. I get to learn about Julius Caesar’s Civil War and the Roman Republic. I never realize that Durrachium(modern day Durres, north of Tirana in 30mins,on the Ionian Sea) was such an important port city to the Romans until I read the book! I should have googled it before I headed to Durres.

Last week I visited Pogradec because Eni(also a intern from UM)’s family is from there. Therefore she invited us there for a real village experience. Of course we gladly accepted her invitation and was all very excited to be there—because of Lake Ohrid! One of the largest fresh water lake on the border of Eastern Albania and Macedonia.

Lake Ohrid

We arrived in Pogradec(strangely it resembles my old home town too!) by furgon on Friday evening.Lake Ohrid is so vast that it really looks like a sea.(To some extent it smells like sea too.) We had Koran(a typical fish in this area) at a nice restaurant and it was pretty good. The night ended with a old communist era Albanian movie filmed in Tushemist, the village in Pogradec where Eni grew up. I feel very unreal when I saw scenery that the film has depicted are still around in the village. Without doubt, today’s Tushemist is nicer and newer.

Pogradec

Visa issue prevents me from crossing border, so I planned my own trip to Korca on Saturday. The night before I left I was kinda worried because I have never traveled by myself before. It’s usually with someone, either family or friends. Plus this time I’m in a completely different countries with no knowledge of its language(not many people know English either). Safety is another concern too. I was hoping that someone could come for help, but later on realized I had to do this on my own. I asked Hanneleen how she overcame her fear to travel by herself. “Not until I start doing it” was her reply.

My heart was racing fast until I was sent on the bus from Pogradec to Korca.(A feeling of liberation embraces me) It was a maximum an hour drive so it wouldn’t take that long. My plan was to visit Korca for a day and then came back to Pogradec in the late afternoon. Bus drive put me in the front so that I was guaranteed the best view:) One of the most impressive thing about the passengers was when I asked “Anglisht”(English?) (My intention was just to say Hi and ask for some travel info) they really tried hard to ask around if anyone knew English, and for every single passenger who got on board they pass along this question until someone said “Po”(Yes). I wasn’t planning on looking for their help(because of the huge language barrier, they didn’t really help me out that much, I have to admit) but their hospitality amazed me.

I spent at least 20 minutes to tell the taxi driver that I wanted to go to Voskopoje(which is a village nearby Korca that has many old churches, back in the 18th/19th century it was one of the cultural/religious center in the Balkan region). I don’t know much Albanian, and he doesn’t understand English at all. We basically communicated with gestures, numbers, and sometimes my google translation(when I have internet connect on my phone). He doesn’t know how to use my smart phone either so every time when I showed him google translation he just replied to me in Albanian(God knows why he assumed that I understood him!) I (or we) definitely struggled, but eventually we reached to an agreement that he would drive me to Voskopoje, take me around to the churches, and then coming back to Korca. It was great that I got a “guide”, and I was not alone anymore.

Korca

Voskopoje is indeed a village, quite literally. People raise livestock here and they seem to commute by horses and donkeys. The scenery of the wild mountains was so beautiful that it made me breathless. For every single step I took, my feet sunk into those flowers, and I smelt the grass as I trampled. Surrounded by astonishing nature, I felt an enormous amount of wildness and freedom.
wildness, Voskopoje

There are a lot of churches here, according to the travel info 22 remained today. I’ve only got to six, Shen Kolli(Nicholas), Shen Mehilli(Archangel and Michael),Shen Harallambi(ruined already), Shen Illia(Elias), Shen Maria(Mary), and Shen Athanasi. Among them the most impressive church was Shen Kolli. It doesn’t look very impressive from exterior(it’s rather plain I think), but when I got in, I was awed. All the walls and ceilings are covered with old orthodox fresco(later on I knew those fresco were painted by two masters in 18th century) The iconostasis and the chandelier are partly covered with gold and silver with complicated design. This church is over 300 years old! What a hidden gem!

Shen Illia(Bell tower)          Shen Kolli(Bell tower)      lamp in Shen Kolli

fresco in the Gallery of Shen Kolli

According to the travel info most churches in Voskopoje are closed and only the villagers have the keys. I was very glad that I was with my taxi driver Maksim (I finally got to know his name by pointing to a sentence on my Albanian common phrase book). Even though he is not very familiar with Voskopoje, he tried his best to take me around, like asking an old lady to open the church door for me(that’s why I get to see the interior of Shen Kolli), taking photos of me, and even calling his daughter for the sake of English translation! For whichever church I wanted to see, he led me the way to. As a 56-year-old father, it was very surprising that he walked with me all the way through the hills(we even climbed through a barbed wire!) I couldn’t describe how grateful I felt to him.

People might have wondered how we communicated. Well, all the words I used during the conversation were Mire(good), Shumire(very good), faleminderit(thank you), fantastik, mal(mountain), kisha(churches) and fotografoj(photograph) with gestures and numbers. Usually he would point to the place we were heading and asked me Mire? and I replied Po/Shumire. My expression is pretty much limited, and we might have not necessarily understood each other, but I can tell that we both had a great time here in Voskopoje.

After I successfully got back to Korca at two, I felt like I’ve completed one of the best trips of my life on my own and I feel so accomplished. Since I was so tired, thirsty and hungry that I wandered around the city center looking for place to chill. I stood out quite easily when I was walking on the street even with sunglasses. Some people could even tell where I’m from, but on the other hand, whenever I stop(which seems lost to the locals), people will always try to reach out to me, ask me if I need help, and try their best to show directions. With their friendliness, my trip was happy, safe and sound.

Hello:)

Dear all,

I just start this new blog post on wordpress and I hope it will work out. Hopefully I get to write every few week and then post my status here.I’ve never tried to maintain an English blog post before, I’m giving wordpress a try.

I’m pretty sure my blog post will be a mix of English and Mandarin, it would fantastic it you understand both:))))

A little bit about myself:

I like flowers, grass, trees..I really enjoy nature and photography, and I like to walk around and explore different places too.

If you happened to run into me before, I was probably taking pictures with my phone while walking on the street.(and unfortunately didn’t notice you)

Also I’m a fan of anything related to Eastern Europe and Russia.In particular,music,literature and some history.I could join any conversation related to those topics.

I’m currently in Albania, having fun with an internship here as well as doing weekend trips.

Here’s a photo on the southern coastline route of Albania.I love the flowers:)))))

flowers on the mountain