Pursuit of Happiness


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December 21st 2014
Published: December 21st 2014
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I've been putting this off for way too long. Procrastinating. However, today or this evening to be more precise, I will begin documenting my experiences while traveling abroad via this blog, recording history as it happens. Skipping over mundane, running errands types of stories (although they can be amusing and awkward at times), I will focus more on the "what the fuck?!" ridiculous situations I find myself in while living in a foreign country.

In this journey, I will attempt to fill my curiosity for this wonderful uniqueness, we call our planet Earth and in the process discover new cultures and see different viewpoints, meet new people, and try the amazingly good food totally new to me. My coach, teacher, and mentor Bob Myers has always taught me to be "well-rounded". To understand the whole picture as well as the details that go along with it. To learn patience and compromise. To know the consequences of my actions and most importantly to follow my dreams.

Losing my college brother, one of the most influential people in my life, to an opiate overdose did a toll on me. I was really broken up for a while. So I started living like tomorrow is not promised. Because in reality, it isn't. There's no better time than now I thought. Now that my heart is still beating. The college debt is creeping, but I can always defer. Grown-up life is going to have to be put on hold, until further notice.

A little about me. I was born at the start of a slow disintegration of the mighty superpower called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, in the southwestern region known today as Moldova. When the shit hit the fan, many Republics seceded and became independent of Mother Russia. Fourteen new countries emerged after the collapse. Being stuck in one of the newly independent states, Armenia was not incredibly fun. Things were tough there. Electricity and food shortages. But I was too young to remember all that.

To escape the madness, my grandmother purchased a country house in a small Russian town. So all of us could start our new life there. My mother didn't like the small town too much and left me living with my great-grandmother and grandmother while she looked for a job in a bigger city. One of the biggest things that I had to get used to was miserable cold weather and snow, tons of snow during the winter months.

I first started traveling as a kid. Family summer vacations down to the Black Sea. I practically spent a month of every summer there. We would go all over the Crimea. Our trips would always start on a train. I fell in love with trains and to this day prefer them over any other ground mode of transportation. The fact that you can stretch out and sleep comfortably, get up and walk around whenever you please, and eat food in a diner car without having to stop and lose time.

Top city from my childhood would have to be Odessa, Ukraine. There is so much life and energy in that city. The evening strolls by the beach. Pelmenaya, with its unlimited amount of pelmeni and sour cream in a glass (like it’s a goddamn drink), the theater that my grandmother loved to go to and take me with. All that is just a memory now, long gone but never forgotten.

When I was twelve, I was informed that we will be moving yet again. This time, it was much farther than all of the previous times. I was beginning to think that we were gypsies or nomadic people. We were bound for the USA, in pursuit of happiness. I think as a kid, I was really excited about the new and unknown. Mother was going through a culture shock of her own. The biggest thing was the language barrier. I didn’t speak a single word of English and my Mom, having taken some classes prior to our move, only spoke in a few phrases. I started picking up quick, I had no choice. Most of the first words I learned came from my peers at school, so they were obviously a little naughty. I was glad that math was universal. I always liked math, but even more so then because it’s the only thing I could understand effortlessly.

After graduating high school, I attended a university in Iowa. My sophomore year, my friend and I decided to go abroad to Europe. We were to do an exchange program, where we swapped places with our European counterparts. Our city was called Wiener Neustadt, Austria, only half an hour away from Vienna. Right in the center of Europe, so we could travel to as many countries as possible. I think that’s where my travels truly begin, because I was finally an independent backpacker, traveling alone, taking care of myself and dealing with all the challenges and problems that arise in yet not so funny situations that seem pretty hilarious now.

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