If you had told me a year ago…

that I would be dancing in a Ukrainian nightclub on the Moldovan/Romanian border with my co-teacher and a bunch of other Ukrainians I had just met, I’m not sure what my response would be.

A year ago, I was finishing my undergraduate degree and celebrating with my friends. As a result of many late nights of research, I have learned that the ‘dance circle’ is a universal concept, shared by many cultures.

As I danced my heart out to the random Ukrainian club hits, I was thinking about how far I have come and how much has changed in a year. I’m a teacher now, I live in another country, I interact with people from all over who bring so much to my life every day. I am living an incredible dream right now. Every day brings a new adventure that I never expected for myself.

Sunday was my first adventure outside of Mamalyga on my own. I needed to buy a couple of things from the city and I didn’t have anything planned for my day, so I decided to venture into the city.

If you know me, you know I’m a planner. I like to have a schedule planned and to know what I’m getting myself into. In preparation, I asked my counterpart, my host brother and my host mom as many questions as I could, hoping to account for any and all eventualities in order to make it to and from the city with no issues. Much to my chagrin, Mamalyga doesn’t necessarily comply with my need to have a plan.

I woke up and got myself ready, much to the chagrin of my host mom, I skipped breakfast and opted to munch on some crackers on my 12 minute walk to the bus stop. I got there a few minutes before nine (having been informed that the bus would stop outside the store at nine) a bus flew past me at around 8:50 and I thought I’d be stuck for another 2 hours for the next bus. You can imagine how stoked I was when came (and stopped) about 20 minutes later.

I hopped my cold self on the bus, which was also cold, despite the forecasted 50 degrees. I kept my hat and gloves on for the ride, but I was able to read on my kindle. I got to the stop to switch buses around 10:00, just in time for the next bus to the city to be too full for me to catch it. I got on the next available bus and waited about 30 minutes for it to fill up so we could head to the city.

I got to the city around 11:15 and missed my stop. I had the perfect plan to get off the bus at the only place I had gotten off before, but clearly that didn’t happen. The bus was too crowded for me to make my way to the front before it left my stop, so I just waited to see where it would take me.

Luckily, the next stop was just a bit away, but I had no idea which stop and which bus to take that would get me into the center where I was meeting some friends. I used my intermediate-mid language skills to ask which stop I needed and which bus I needed to take.

The bus had about 1,000 babushkas on it, so that was fun, but I made my way to the Shevchenko statue (aka the only landmark I knew in the city) and met up with my friends. We got lunch, I ran some errands, chiefly a router for Wi-Fi (bless up) and a new sim card so my phone doesn’t think it’s in Romania anymore. I ended my adventure in the city with tea at this cute little café right around the corner from my bus stop in the city with my fellow PCV Caitlyn.

I caught my first bus to the edge of the city, which was decidedly less crowded this time, waited for the next bus for about 20 minutes before it filled and left. Overall, thanks Grandma for the Kindle, it makes these bus rides so much easier.

The sun was setting as I caught my final bus of the day, still about 45 minutes to an hour away from my destination. By the time I almost missed my stop in Mamalyga, it was dark outside. I walked home on the dimly lit streets of Mamalyga, but it didn’t matter at all because I made it. I’m sure in a couple of months it won’t feel that exciting that I can make it to and back from the city on my own, but at that moment it felt incredible. This was something that I did on my own.

If you had told me a year ago, that I would be traipsing around the Ukrainian countryside, I’m not sure what I would say. I’ve been here for just about three months and I’ve already done things I never thought I could do. I can’t wait to see what’s next.



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