Friday, June 20, 2008

Quick update on the gap year (aka the reason you're here reading)

I received an e-mail from someone at Cross-Cultural Solutions this past week saying that my Russian Letter of Invitation has arrived. Now I have to complete a two page form and send away $180 to get my Russian visa. Jaime has already completed this. As usual, I'm behind the curve.

Jaime and I also booked our flights in the last month. I leave for SVO airport in Moscow on September 27th and arrive on the 28th before 3 pm for a 5 hour bus ride to Yaroslavl, where I'll spend the next 7 weeks. The program ends on November 16th and our CCS program in South Africa does not begin until November 22nd so we debated about coming home quickly or going straight to Cape Town and we decided on the latter. I think the 5 or 6 days will make for good practice for living outside of an organized program, which we'll be doing for the majority of the second half of the year. We leave Cape Town for Los Angeles on December 27th and arrive on the 28th. I'm excited to be able to spend New Year's at home!

Jaime and I plan on meeting next week to begin seriously planning that second half of the year. We know that it will include Australia, New Zealand, China and a Spanish-speaking country, possibly Spain. Complications arose with China however. China is the only one of these four countries that will be on a program, again with CCS, so we have to work with the scheduled start dates. We assumed that they'd be similar to the 2008 start dates, and had pinpointed 3/15, the Ides of March, as a good time after spending a month each organic farming in Aus and NZ. However, CCS wasn't as cooperative and their start dates for Xi'an are 2/28 and 3/28. So it seemed we'd either have to spend two weeks more or less than we originally planned for Down Under.

Then Jaime found out that he had a cousin getting married in Thailand in March, and we figured it'd be convenient to leave from New Zealand. So now it appears we'll wait on the wedding date, maybe spend a week there and then move on to China. We originally planned on 7 weeks in China, but that might have to be cut down. More updates to come after Jaime and I begin to plan next week!


Tasia said...

I'm really jealous of all the countries you're visiting. It sounds like you'll have a beyond amazing time. Also I read through your earlier pots - I'm sorry to say I still haven't read through the last Chronicle, but I really enjoyed your column and your musings on it. I feel the same way about a lot of what you said.

I was just thinking yesterday how much I miss you and Emma and everyone already. Thanks for posting this on your facebook so that I can (stalker-ish-ly) keep in touch :)

Elliot Rosenberg said...

My suggestion is to not go to Spain. Don't get me wrong, it's a great place. I went there for a month with the Experiment in International Living two years ago, so I should have some credibility in saying the following. I also went to Argentina last summer with the same organization.

Spain is a relatively developed, prosperous country, and I think you'd have a more meaningful experience in Latin America. (You did say you wanted to visit a Spanish-speaking country.) I think Latin America's overall poverty and problems give it more character. We've been predominately schooled in Western, Euro-centric thought all our lives. Your gap year is the perfect time to experience beyond that realm, which you clearly realize. Spain is one of the world's top tourist destinations, and you'll likely visit it in college or later. You'll be much less likely to later live in a rural village without electricity or running water in the Peruvian Andes, for example.

This could be your only year to do something like this that is radical and unorthodox. You have the rest of your life to follow the mainstream. Give Latin America some consideration.

Dr. Zeuss said...

Elliott speaks wisdom. although I'm pretty sure you'll have fun/learn a lot wherever you go.