Wow, I can’t believe that the year is almost over. I’m starting off strong here, but it’s true that time really flew. I honestly feel satisfied about how this year went, and I’m kind of sad to see it go. While I didn’t travel quite as much as I wanted, which admittedly I always want to travel, I had a great time in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, plus the Balkan countries of Montenegro, Croatia, and Albania. All that, on top of the time spent exploring the ever-fascinating Moscow. I’ve really grown quite a bit, both as a traveler and a human being, and I can’t wait to see what the coming year brings!
On the travel front, I’m once again thankful that I was able to travel to some lesser-known places. In this case, Dubrovnik is probably stretching the definition of “not many people travel there”, but bear with me here. Kaliningrad kind of was a last minute thing, as I was trying to look for quick trips for the May holiday, and voila, the enclave popped up as the best option. While it was rather condensed into a long weekend, it was exactly what the doctor ordered: fresh air, new change of pace, and most importantly, awesome beer. And despite Montenegro being popular with Russians, I was happy to go through a relatively pristine country devoid of swarms of tourists; I’d say that cruise ship guests in Kotor formed the majority of foreigners, but even then you only noticed them on certain days. Being able to take day trips to neighboring countries Croatia and Albania was just the icing on the cake: for the price of a single trip, I got a hat trick! To be perfectly honest, I didn’t seriously plan on visiting the two neighbors, but once I was in the Balkans, I realized that oh shoot, I’ve got time for them! It’s nice when life hands you opportunities like these, eh?
More personally, I think I’ve developed both as a professional and as an adult. Yeah, it’s not all fun and games at times, but on the whole I’ve noticed a marked improvement on how I handle things. Whatever life has thrown at me (i.e. taxes, having to budget, knowing when to refuse, etc.), I know that I can overcome them. Sure, it’s painful and stressful, but I’ve overcome everything up to this point. (Though November and December have been the penultimate examples of “treading water”. Thankfully I’ve powered through.) Professionally? I’m happy that I’ve noticed how my teaching skills and lesson planning has vastly improved; in particular it’s the fact that I’m able to adopt, adapt, and improve with relative ease. Oh for sure I’m not perfect, but seeing the progress from my very first lesson to the ones I lead today is nothing short of remarkable! Having that confidence makes work far easier and enjoyable, and I hope this trajectory continues in the future!
So, what’s happening for 2018 then? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I do have tentative plans to travel to both more within Russian (Kazan especially) and the near abroad, aka the former Soviet countries. There’s no one “I need to visit here” destination, but I’ve been looking into Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and I’ve got a copy of the visa process for Turkmenistan in case I ever have a hankering for Asia’s other reclusive state. Outside of the ex-Soviet Union, I’m thinking about Serbia and Kosovo, but who knows. Unless I find a good deal for countries not quite on the main radar, you’ll most likely find me there at some point this upcoming year.
And last but not least, I’d like to thank every single person who has read this blog at any point! It may not be much, but rest assured it does help me try to write new, creative things. So, happy early New Year everyone!