If you are a regular reader of this site, you likely have seen my recent interviews with some of my fellow thirty-somethings who are leaving their jobs to travel or work overseas.
I am thrilled to announce that I am about to join them!
Yes, that’s right. I gave notice at work yesterday that my last day will be August 12.
At the end of August, I plan to embark on what I like to call Katie’s Great Post-Soviet Adventure (I’m open to suggestions for better taglines!).
Traveling through all 15 countries of the former Soviet Union
As some of you know, I majored in Russian & East European Studies for a while in college and studied Russian language for 3 years. I also did research projects on democracy in the Ukraine and ethnic conflict in Armenia and Georgia. In short, just as Russia has long fascinated me, the former Soviet Union as a whole has held a strong interest for me. So, although it’s a bit unconventional, this is an ideal way for me to spend the next year!
Here’s the approximate plan:
August 30: I depart Chicago on a one-way flight to Helsinki, Finland.
August 31-September 2 : Helsinki.
September 2-11: Estonia. I am running the Tallinn Marathon on September 11 and will likely spend some time in both Tallinn and Saaremaa Island.
Mid-September through early November: Russia. It’s not quite my dream trip to Russia, but I do plan to spend 3 months immersing myself in the country and culture. I will be volunteering through Geovisions’ Conversation Corps program for the first 2 months. I am still waiting for my family placements, but I should be spending a month in St. Petersburg and a month in Moscow, living with families and tutoring them in English.
November: More Russia. From Moscow, I will fly to Vladivostok and spend the next 3 weeks taking the Trans-Siberian Railway all the way back to Moscow, likely stopping in Ulan Ude, Irkutsk and Lake Baikal, Yekaterinburg and Kazan. Of course, all of my Russia plans assume that Russian authorities decide to grant me a 3-month business visa. If they don’t, I’ll be resorting to Plan B…(not sure what that is yet)
December: Latvia, Lithuania & Belarus. Back to the Baltics, I will hit Latvia and Lithuania before hopefully moving on to Belarus (I say hopefully because I will need to get a visa, which is not guaranteed).
January 2012: Ukraine. I plan to ring in 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine (anyone wanna join me??), and am looking at options for taking some Russian language lessons there, possibly staying up to a month.
February: Moldova. I may stay in Moldova just a week, but I am working on arranging a volunteer opportunity with a nonprofit there, in which case I may stay a month.
March: Armenia. From Moldova, I’ll head down to Odessa and take a ferry across the Black Sea to Georgia and then Armenia, where I may also stay for a month volunteering.
April: Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan. I’ll backtrack through Georgia to Azerbaijan and then take the Caspian Sea ferry to Turkmenistan (would love to meet up with some adventurous souls here, for a variety of reasons).
May-June: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. From Turkmenistan, I’m planning to head up to Uzbekistan, heading to Kazakhstan by train from Nukus and visiting the underground mosques outside of Aktau before continuing on to Almaty via the Aral Sea. From Kazakhstan, I’ll head to Kyrgyzstan, where I would love to do some hiking, and then finally to Tajikistan and the Pamir Highway.
What do you think? Fun? Crazy? Ambitious?
I realize I will be traveling through Russia and Eastern Europe in the dead of winter, which I am sure would not appeal to most people. However, I am a cold weather person and I would much rather experience some cold and snow than suffer through extreme heat and humidity. As I’ve written about in the past, I love Europe in the winter!
I am SUPER excited about my plans and I hope you’ll enjoy following along – sign up for my RSS Feed.
I would also love to meet up with fellow travelers or readers along the way, so please let me know if you think we might cross paths!