My three months in Moldova went by extremely fast and I feel that my mind is still exploding with my Moldovan memories and experiences. Besides what has already been said about my time there, some other memorable moments are:
The flooding of the Dniester River, which runs along the Moldova-Ukraine border and into the Black Sea, after an extremely heavy rainstorm we had. The houses and buildings of surrounding areas were half submerged in the water.
My first ever all-nighter in Moldova (yes, I am a university student and yes, I have gone through the agonies of exam season but I could never last the whole night without some sleep) when I went fishing, also for the first time in my life, from 1:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. at the Dniester River with the cousins of my village host family.
Riding in the trolleybuses. People can board the bus through any of the doors and to buy a ticket, one gives money to the ticket seller who walks up and down the aisle as the bus is moving. During busy times, the bus can be ridiculously packed to the point where people look as if they can just spill out of the doors. Personal space was non-existent as I was often pressed against all the surrounding people. Factor in the fact that the ticket seller still finds a way to move up and down the bus during these crowded times and the fact that the rides were rarely ever smooth, riding a trolleybus really demanded patience and tolerance. I will not complain of cramped bus rides up to SFU anymore.
Basking in my own sweat. Almost 90 percent of my days in the village were sunny and hot. Near the end of my three months, the temperature reached above 40 degrees Celsius. The heat did not help with the mosquito situation either. I had an impressive collection of mosquito bites on my body, especially on my legs.
I am definitely glad that I made the decision to travel abroad. I was able to witness an entirely different culture and participate in it myself. Traveling alone almost forces one to be independent and to rely on one’s own knowledge and resources; it is definitely a character builder. I faced many challenges during my stay – not knowing the customs and routines, not knowing the language, missing home, feeling a bit self-conscious that I was often the only Asian person on the scene – but these challenges came mostly in the beginning when I was still trying to establish myself in the country. Now I realize that those challenges were necessary in the learning process
I was overwhelmed by how friendly the people of Moldova were and through this experience, I met so many people from all over the world and have made so many new friends. I entered Moldova with no idea of what to expect; my mind was a blank slate ready to be filled and after three months, that slate has been engraved with memories of beautiful sights, wonderful people, and unforgettable experiences.