I feel pretty nostalgic about how did I start to get “addicted” to travel so much. Special for you, I represent the look back on how I decided to travel abroad for the first time. Also, I was alone, to a country 4000 miles away from home. But that’s okay because once in a lifetime you should really come and enjoy the winter in Moscow.
I was just graduated from High School and sometimes I’d like to challenge myself a little for doing something big in my university life. One day, I bought the application form to participate in a volunteer program. Without deadline date available, I procrastinate so much that I finished it in months. I remember putting the form at the front of my binder so every time I looked into my binder, it will always remind myself to fill it. Quite frankly, I didn’t have much of a confident especially when it comes to language. English was still something rare I used and I remember being so dependent on the dictionary every time I moved to the next question.
After days and days of finishing it, I remember I was with two of my other friends from high school to attend the seminar explains mostly what the organization about, what to expect from the volunteer program and more. By the end of the seminar, they put a list of names that passed on the first selection: the form.
Long story short, I got accepted and a project in Russia agreed to hire me as their volunteer to teach English for elementary to High School Students. It was a bit of an awkward situation knowing that I had to teach people one year younger than me but physically taller.
The visa making was a totally different story. I had to wait for the original Letter of Acceptance sent from Russia which never arrived until today, but of course, I had the scanned of it. The negotiating with the guy in the embassy was pretty hard, but eventually, he agreed to proceed the visa. I bought the flight ticket, new luggage, and winter outfits. I was so ready to go until one night I’ve got pretty sick. We went to a doctor and I have diagnosed a very terrible disease. I was sick for sure, and my Dad did not let me go but I asked the doctor’s permission and he said I would be okay as long as I discipline enough to take my pills. Now I tried to convince my dad and eventually he lets me go after countless times of trying, indeed.
Some months later, January 26th, 2013 to be exact, It was finally the time I was waiting for: the departure day to my very first exclusive and lone abroad journey. Everything was prepared. Over-prepared if I looked at it today. Although I still haven’t get my passport and visa yet in me until the day of my departure. I was in the middle of being panic and being sincere to let it go. But I got it some hours before my flight.
There is no direct flight from Jakarta to Krasnoyarsk, so the plan is to fly from Jakarta to Moscow, stay a few days there, as it turns out, one of my dad’s friend working in the embassy and I’m gonna have a short stay in his flat, then continue to fly with local airplane to Krasnoyarsk. There is no direct flight from Jakarta to Moscow either so I’m gonna have to have a layover in Dubai. As soon as I landed in Dubai, I had no effing idea what to do. To be honest, I never even have a layover flight in my entire life before. My little confuse expression got caught by a nice Indonesian lady came to me asked me where I’m gonna go. She was making sure if I know what to do but I said I didn’t, so she explained how a layover flight works.
I had a few chit-chats with her as she looked pretty much in a rush, so what I can tell you about her is that she lived and changed her nationality as a German citizenship. Her husband and kids live there and she tries to keep in touch with her family in Indonesia by going home at least twice a year.
I don’t know if anyone really knows this, but if you fly with Emirates and have a layover for more than four hours in Dubai, you have a free meal coupon. I was unexpectedly following the sign written “transit passenger” and showed my boarding pass to the officer there. Then she gave me a free meal coupon that I never even know of before. Thanks, sign!
The Departure to Moscow
As soon as I landed in Moscow, I felt terribly relieved. My dad’s friend was picking me up at the Domodedovo Airport with all of his children. As a tropical-born, I never knew how the snow or winter really feels like. I was so excited that I have tried to touch it with my bare hand. My first Russia impression? It is so crazy cold. But My dad’s friend and the rest of his children welcome was warmed.
I’ve stayed in Moscow for a few days before I continue flying to Krasnoyarsk. It was indeed the whole new experience for me. The winter with -25 degrees Celcius, the people who walk very fast and untouchable passed by, the reliable public transportation. Everything is different and I would say that being in Russia change a complete my way of thinking and drove me to go even further.
Everything big starts with a small step. This whole new experience I had might not as small as it sounds, but at least I tried to be brave and took all the risks. My stories of how I met amazing people and how was my experience working as a volunteer in Krasnoyarsk will be posted soon.
So, what was your first experience going out of your comfort zone?