After months and months of waiting for my Irish visa, I got my passport with it back on 24th December, that was quite a present for Christmas, I tell you! Nevertheless, Christmas is not as widely celebrated in Belarus as the New Year’s Eve, so I was preparing for my travel and I made myself even a nicer present of travelling to my ESC project on 31st December.
It was pouring with rain on the last day of 2020 in Minsk, but I was in a really uplifted mood! On my flight with Belavia, our national airlines, all the passengers got a nice New Year’s greetings from the cabin crew and we also had an opportunity to write a letter to the future self to open on 31st December 2021, which was a rather touching idea, I must admit. In Russian speaking countries there is a tradition to drink a glass of sparkling wine called Sovetskoye Shampanskoye (literally Soviet Champagne) to celebrate New Year’s Eve, so everyone on the plane got a chance to summarize this year with a papercupful of it. Cheers and farewell to 2020!
Upon the arrival
When I landed in Dublin, I was really surprised to see that it had been snowing in the night. And even though Ireland met me with drizzling rain, when I got to Leitrim, I could enjoy a glorious sunset. When I arrived at the volunteers’ house, I finally met in person the fellow volunteers that I knew for quite a while. I also got a chance to meet the volunteers’ house both pet and master – ginger cat called Roxy.
Not only had I luck to arrive on the first day of the level 5 national lockdown, but I also had to follow the good tradition of this year’s volunteers of staying on quarantine for 14 days after the arrival to Ireland. Upon my arrival I had to stay at a respectful social distance from all of the inhabitants of the house and my first dinner in Ireland (so as every meal for the next 2 weeks) had to be enjoyed in splendid isolation of my room. Throughout my whole quarantine it felt strange to keep away from my housemates, but those are the times, and I knew these would also pass.
The weather of the first week of January was very welcoming and incredibly (if not surprisingly) sunny, albeit chilly, so I took every opportunity to walk around the area and enjoy it. I think that the first three days of the quarantine were the longest because of both a long weekend and the fact that my biological clock was telling me to get up at 7 am, because it was already 10 am in Minsk. But then the new week started and the working schedule set up again. Moreover, there were a lot of welcoming calls from the GEAI directors, and we exchanged hopes to meet each other soon.
Still, I do not forget my family and friends and keep track of the news back home. So if the weather in Ireland and Belarus was quite similar when I arrived here, it was snowing quite a lot from 6th January on and the next week it was around -20C in Minsk! So I got quite a lot of photos from my loved ones of them skiing and going for a walk in the snow. I also had a lovely online training with my sending organisation, LYVS, and got to know other ESC volunteers from Belarus.
A busy quarantine as it was, it’s done now and I am relieved to join my fellow volunteers Marine, Silvia and Simona at leisure activities and at work. I set my hopes on this year to be full of new impressions, connections, and destinations. I also do hope that the current covid-19 situation will resolve sooner rather than later and this year won’t be too tough on us. Meanwhile, there’s work to do and activities with GEAI to plan, where we hope to meet you quite soon. Take care!