It’s been almost five month since I have’t been at Brunnsparken. Well, it is not a big deal, of course, some people never been there:) But you got the point, right?
My friend Barbara, a journalist from Hungary, once told me “Don’t afraid to go back home. Many good things happened to me since I moved to Budapest”. Still, I was honestly freaking out to move back to Ukraine, thinking that I will loose more than I gain. No, this post is not about how I was completely wrong, because I don’t know this yet. It is about how I consciously re-build relationships with my home, trying to stay congruent with myself along the process. Here are a few lessons that I’ve learned.
Lesson 1: It’s in your head
I started preparation for re-entry in Ukraine from building a right mindset. Well, “right”. Optimal. First of all, I got rid of this suicide-like idea that it is forever. Here to tell, any kind of “forever” frightens me a lot. I don’t trust these forevers and people who use them. Planes crush, husbands cheat, oil prices drop down, peninsulas got stolen – how the hell we can talk about anything lasting forever? In this epoch of uncertainty and terrorism, absence of guarantees that I’m moving here forever gave me a blurry chance and a silly hope that more big adventures for me are yet to come.
My first attempt to prepare myself for coming back to Ukraine turned to be a fiasco. Trying to build some theoretical background, I googled “reverse cultural shock”, and five out of seven articles I found started with something like “It is not easy to come back to US after a year abroad”. And nothing like “How to Survive in Ukrainian Province if Your Heart Stayed on Gothenburg’s Archipelago”.
Sweden introduced the law which abolishes censorship and guarantees freedom of speech in 1766. It was approximately 100 years before the USA and Russian Empire abolished slavery. This fact remained to be a raw number in my mind before the last week, when by a happy opportunity provided by Swedish Institute I took part in Gräv-2015, an annual seminar on investigative journalism that took place in Jönköping. Two days among best professionals of media scope, international guests and friends from SI network for future leaders gave me a new passion and a new vision of journalist profession.
Photos do not fit the text AT ALL in this post
Peace caught me unexpectedly in a small town of Whitley Bay in the North East of England. I was lying on the bed listening to wind outside the window and suddenly felt this clear state of mind, transparent and revealing as if I had taken ketanov after several hours of severe pain. Whitley Bay lays in forty minutes driving from Newcastle and I have never heard about this place before. It was that part of my work that I love: finding myself in a places where I would never ever go under other circumstances. To be honest, I didn’t want to go to this project. Visa application process was humiliating and expensive, timing short, research proposal for master thesis begged to spend more time with him and, generally, I was full of winter uncosiness and indecisiveness and just wanted to spend more time in my beloved Sweden. But I had to go. Duties, you know.
If you search for hostels in Manchester, all hosterbookers websites immediately direct you to Hatters on Newton street and Hatters Hilton Chambers. Both hostels have such specific atmosphere, that it might impact on your liver, especially on Saturday nights. Located in old industrial-style buildings, these hostels, like a good steak after vegan nuggets give a feeling of life in its sweet inevitable sinfulness. These are not tidy scandinavian vandrarhems with wheelchair access and eco-wallpapers. Only those who are strong in body and mind can reach reception in Hatters Hilton Chambers. To do so one have to pull bags over narrow stairs to the 2d floor, while in Hatters on Newton street one have to climb up to the fifth floor. Vintage elevator, beautiful in its dustiness, is only for baggage lifting.
Interior of the hostels is not complicated with with anything like new furniture. Still, mattresses on bunk beds are soft, bed linens are fresh and crispy, hand-dryers function and light breakfast consisting of cereals, toasts, jam, oranges and 24/7 tea-coffee-chockolade is included in the price. Isn’t it wonderful?
Hatters present themselves as social hostels. Every day they suggest their guests some kind of social program such as city-walks, movie-nights or, of course, bar-crawl. On Thursdays “civilized” bar-crawl takes place, while on Saturdays – a real one “what-happens-in-Manchester-stays-in-Manchester” happens. The hostel guy responsible for bar-crawl once left Australia for 5 weeks trip, arrived to Manchester and since that time he lives in Hatters and leads culture-less cultural program for visitors. There was Thursday when I arrived. A day of modest bar-crawl. Trying to combat my sociophobia, I joined guys and haven’t regretted even one single minute about it. Just in three hours I drank a litter of cider, met Tom from Wisconsin who writes for a couple of travel magazines and submits 2-3 articles a day, one more Australian who works as a cook in army (“I served and then I stuck there”), a bold maniac-looking French (“nothing special. I work in casino”), Bob from Oxford who moved to the north “because people are nicer here”, Ryan from Minnesota who travels to his sister in Edinburgh and doesn’t drink alcohol and Olga from Moscow, who did not fit the company and went to bed early.
More decent information about Hatters can be found here. Below some shots from my camera that were so ugly that I had trow them through filters.
A week of sensor deprivation in the mountains of Iceland led to objectivation of an unexpected set of basic needs: nicotine, Zemfira and shrimp salad. Maybe some day I will write more about dangerous beauty of group dynamics, happiness to be understood and about the fact that Icelandic school students learn to knit mittens in the 9th grade. But now it’s just a bit of Reykjavik which is pretty much like VSCO: cosy, waterish, lonely and you can spend all you life looking at it. Read More
Those dark cold Swedish days crept up like a shadow when the sun starts to set. I just couldn´t believe it! Walking home on occasion I literally felt my bones shiver, the rain hit me from all angles, and those horrible gusts of wind would be so strong that even my umbrella would turn inside out! This was not so cool to me – and I did not want to accept this as my reality. I was used to wearing flip-flops and my bikini underneath a plaid button down Abercrombie t-shirt not thinking twice about any kind of rain or cold weather. Now I was stuck with layers of long johns underneath my clothes and having to wear penguin looking winter coats – I did not feel stylish and wasn´t happy looking like a fat penguin. I would attempt to go shopping around noon and then it would get so…
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The tiny tranquil town Skagen in the very north of Denmark met us with purely Scandinavian Sunday emptiness. There were no people on the streets, but there was plenty of sunshine, yellow houses and wind. Behind the last line of backyards we found three kilometers of dunes, which end with the lighthouse with a cute cafe inside, and after, it there were nothing but freedom and sands. Couple kilometers more, and here you are, the cape of Grenen, the place where the Baltic and the Northern sea meets. In the summer time, there is a little train commuting between the town and the cape bringing tourists to this mini-version of the edge of the world. Too bad we didn’t catch it in September.