In June, I rarely had the energy to do my gratitude diary practice, which until now served as my source for these reflection articles, so instead, I wrote June in Latvia in a journal form day by day. What do you think? 🙂
First week (01 – 05.06)
The month began with strong antibiotic side effects (long-lasting nausea and quickened heartbeat) and some intense boil pain, to the point where I asked my mentor, Elina, to come with me to the hospital. As I am not a Latvian resident, I do not have a GP, and instead, medical issues are supposed to go through the ER, which is where we went and spent nearly 6 hours waiting – the ER was severely understaffed, having only 1 surgeon, 1 gynecologist and 1 internal diseases doctor on call. Elina and I talked for most of the time, getting silly and goofing around the 4th-hour mark. Thankfully, by the time I got seen by the doctor and surgeon, the nausea and sped-up heartbeat had passed. I got my first surgery! The surgeon lanced my boil, apologizing for the wait and the pain of the local anesthetic. He was awfully sweet and polite – he also turned out to be a relative of Elina. I got a drainage attached, a new antibiotic prescribed, told to come back the following day, and sent off home, yay.
I went to the hospital for check-ups on the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 9th of June – everything healed well. I missed a trip to a park with obstacles, whose theme was emulating the life and challenges of the blind, which upset me. Manuel had a lot of fun and showed me videos of the Youth House-organized trip. At the hospital, the nurses didn’t speak English and I know my Russian is too limited to understand everything and ask all questions I might have, so I needed someone to accompany me on all visits. Elina couldn’t come after the 2nd, so Dagnija came instead, who gave the honor of being my escort to Diana for the last trip. I felt like a burden, tired of all the emotions that came up with the pain (which I talked about in May in Latvia) and all the changes within myself and in my world.
On Thursday, I had a Bulgarian class with TJ – he is very sweet, currently my only Bulgarian student. We have classes every Thursday, which are often a highlight of my day due to how receptive and happy he is to be learning.
This week was the last week of the Erasmus students’ exchange, so Manuel went to party all night on Friday and Saturday – each time being thelast time they’ll all be together. He tried persuading me to go with him, but I was so tired of the pain and the whole hospital ordeal, that I preferred to stay home. He swam in the Baltic Sea at 4 in the morning, and I woke up mostly refreshed at 5 am 😀
Sunday, Manuel and I went on a walk, then we hung out with a Latvian mutual friend of ours, went to the beach, and because I got too tired to walk her back, Manuel and I stayed at the beach for a while, enjoying its beauty.
This week was stressful, as both Manuel and I had unexpected medical expenses from May, and our volunteer and food money were not arriving due to the youth house’s accountant’s disinterest in doing her job. Per the contract, we should be getting paid before the 5th of each month, and this is not the first time that is not properly executed with no previous warning. Dagnija, our project manager, is doing everything she can to rectify the situation, but there is only so much she can do when faced with the accountant’s carelessness about her job.
Second week (06 – 12.06)
Monday was a planning day – we scheduled two events to happen before the Youth House’s vacation starts on the 18th of July: A Beach day and a Meme party. You’ll read about them in next month’s article 😉
On Tuesday evening was Manuel’s first solo event – a candle workshop, where we made pretty candles and played Mafia with a biig group.
Wednesday I hung out with Lotta, then went home and organized a little as one of the Erasmus students, Kaan, asked us to host a Turkish friend of his for the night. Beliz was very sweet, we hung out the 4 of us – she, Manuel, Kaan, and I till about 11 pm. She left early the next day, Manuel went to walk her to the bus station, and I couldn’t wake up on time…
On Thursday, Manuel, Diana, and I went to meet Justine, an employee at the Liepaja Science and Innovation Center, who asked for our collaboration with a children’s chemistry summer camp in July. That got me very excited, as we’d be helping, leading, or just participating in cool chemistry experiments * – * In the center itself, there were a few other experimental games that showcased how different physics laws worked. That trip was a dream come true for me. Diana and Manuel were not as interested, so I tried to hurry a bit, and I want to go again, just so I can finish all the experiments. In the evening, Manuel and I were invited to have dinner with his mentor, Andis, and his girlfriend, Anna. They had prepared an amazing dinner, and we talked until around 11 pm when Manuel gave me the signal to leave, which I blatantly missed… I was feeling like I might be talking too much, so we left around 11.30, and he went to say bye to the Erasmus students again.
On Friday evening, Elina and I talked about my current struggles with living abroad, and she gave me homework to discover and visualize on a tree drawing who am I.
On Saturday, I went to visit some volunteer friends in Talsi. I joined them for a stand-with-Ukraine performance in a field and a picnic there with Ukrainian refugees. In the afternoon, we walked through Talsi, and enjoyed the lake, where we saw a wedding. They have a huge home, where we played card games and sober beer pong until 11.30ish. I woke up the next morning at 6.40 to leave for my 7.45 bus, chatted a bit with Livio, and was on my way – Talsi is truly beautiful in spring/summer. I can see it being a villa destination.
Sunday I wanted to go see Jekabs’ band perform in Karosta but the little sleep and long trip exhausted me, so instead, I took a long nap once I got home.
Third week (13 – 19.06)
Monday afternoon at 5.20, Elina came to teach me and Manuel about the Latvian education system, what is informal and non-formal education, and to do some energizers together. She explained everything very comprehensively, and I was bewildered at how different our education systems are.
On Tuesday morning I went to the Liepaja prison for the first time as I was recruited by the author I met a while ago to volunteer there, by giving English lessons to a small group of inmates – I had prepared a short lesson to check the prisoners’ English level. The guys were very well-mannered and nice, they were all ears for my entire lesson and I saw that they were eager to learn. I have the opportunity to teach English weekly at the prison, but I’m unsure if I’ll take it for now. Later that day, the girls from the Youth House had organized an event playing ‘Electionville‘ (a political campaign simulation) in person in front of the university. We had to carry a lot of props for it, but it looked like the participants had a lot of fun. In the evening I had a fight with Manuel because I started a conversation with an old crush, who was trying to get my attention in different ways once a month, and I couldn’t resist asking him why. I got the cold shoulder from Manu till the next day, when I had enough and yelled at him that if he wants to break up, he should at least say it. Before that, I was feeling quite bad about myself because we have pretty big personal differences and my instant reaction is to blame myself for them, to revert to feeling like the weird kid. This time I realized that I need help to handle my self-esteem issues, so I reached out to Elina to help me set up a psychologist appointment. Note: The Youth House has been great in supporting me in this, and I’ll probably go to a psychologist in August.
On Wednesday, I asked to stay at home because my emotional and mental state was a mess. I called a few friends, for which I am so thoroughly grateful. Diana reached out and asked if I wanted to go with her and her dog to the beach in Bernāti in the evening, which I accepted. After that, Jekabs and I shared half a bottle of rum at the beach, watching the sunset and talking. When I got home in the middle of the night, Manuel and I talked about us and our relationship, deciding to take time until Sunday to think whether we would like to stay together or not.
On Thursday, I finished the May in Latvia article at the Youth House, while Manuel and Diana hashed out some work-related issues. After work, Manuel and I spent some time together, and when he went to the gym I talked with more friends and with my mom and did the self-reflective homework that Elina gave me the previous week.
On Friday, Dagnija asked if I wanted to go with her to the beach, I accepted, and we looked for amber on the sand. Together we found so many small pieces! She taught me how to look for them, and we had fun.
Then Manuel came to the beach, where we sunbathed and listened to music for a bit, our first date. We later got waffles, walked home, and talked about us again – I said our priorities are too different and that I need to work more on myself, to be grounded in me even when I am swayed by my feelings for another. He agreed that despite our feelings for each other, we are not currently compatible in a romantic sense. Let’s see how we’ll do as friends.
On the weekend, both Manuel and I stayed at home – we spent a very nice weekend together. We watched Breaking Bad, talked, hung out, and on Sunday we did some work for our 2 events in July.
Fourth week (20 – 26.06)
This Monday, Andis – Manuel’s mentor, suggested that the volunteers and mentors meet with Dagnija to talk about how the project and the communication within it are going. Elina and I brought the guys up to speed as to what we have struggled with at the Youth House, the progress on those issues, and how we are moving forward. Right now, we are in a waiting period for the previous commitments and projects of the girls to finish, and in August we will plan more regular events. Manuel also shared how he was feeling and asked for feedback. In the afternoon, we went to the second-hand shops with him for some summer clothes – I hit the jackpot with some very nice pieces and even shoes, but we only found him a swimsuit.
Tuesday was a full day – Manuel and I worked in the morning, then at 3 pm, I went to Jekabs’ graduation, which was a 2-hour event with performances, speeches, and flower-giving to the graduates. Good thing I saw Manuel’s friend, Viola, and she suggested we sit together – I’m grateful for her translation of the event. At 5.30, Elina and I met at a café to talk about how life at the project is going, to discuss my homework on who am I as a leader, and what my values, needs, and wants are. A lady chatted me up because our English, apparently, was fantastic, and she later proposed to set me up with her son’s 37-year-old doctor friend on a blind date 😀 I guess, why not? xD The lady never texted me about it, though. At 8 the same day, Manuel and I went to an all-you-can-eat pizza event with some of the Erasmus students that hadn’t left yet. It was tasty and fun, we ended the night watching the sunset together.
On Wednesday, Manuel and I were discussing my self-image issues – how when I put effort into my appearance, I get so much attention. I usually like it, but this attention is uncontrollable, which makes me incredibly anxious. Thus, for the past few years, I have purposefully hidden myself and not worked on looking pretty. He’d like me to join him at the gym, but I am hesitant because of the extra attention I’ll inevitably receive. I’m not sure if I have the energy to deal with it on a daily basis. Then we talked about how standoffish I come off to new people and how I cut off most people quickly as I don’t like shallow relationships or acquaintances. I’ve learned to not invest so much in everyone and that sometimes makes me sad as I don’t click with everyone even though I’d love to. As this conversation blew out of proportion, I went on a walk and talked about this with some friends on the phone and with Elina. That helped me remember why I chose to cut off people quickly in the first place and that I always do that if my gut tells me to, I don’t just decide out of thin air.
Thursday was Līgo – a Latvian name day, right before the Jāņi (summer solstice) festival. For most of the day, Manuel and I watched Breaking Bad, I went to do some groceries in the morning and in the evening with Jekabs, who invited me over to his friend’s celebration in Grobiņa. I went, met some cool new people, with which we picked flowers in a field, a girl made me a flower crown, then my new acquaintances went in for a swim in a random lake, while I watched, realizing my prudeness. 😀
Throughout the evening, I enjoyed some short periods of downtime by straying off from the company on my own – Jekabs found some English books about Iceland, one of which was less than 60 pages long about Icelandic folktales, so I finished it right then and there. I also asked the host if I could borrow some books Jekabs found, to which he agreed. That night I enjoyed the Jāņi fire, food, and company until 5 am when I caught the first bus back to Liepaja. It was really fun.
The Friday after was my recovery time – I mostly relaxed, slept a bit, and went to sunbathe with Manu in the afternoon. I got too much sun, so we left rather early. We discussed our relationship-or-not situation again, laying out who wants what and what we fear. Our conclusion was to try and see where it goes: funnily enough, he is afraid of our connection not working out, while I am terrified of it working out. We spent the evening together, enjoying a science documentary before I went to sleep, and he went to a club.
Saturday I went to Aizpute to visit and stay over at my friend Charlotte’s place. We talked about all things’ spirituality, astrology, human design, art, and manifestation. She made me a delicious soup, gifted me a house gown, and let me borrow a book – such a sweet, caring soul. She drove me back to Liepaja the next day, where I rested, took care of myself in the afternoon, had a call with a friend, aaand got into a fight with Manuel again in the evening/night, which resulted in both of us accepting we will just not work together.
Last days (27 – 30.06)
On Monday, I cried most of the day, realizing I need something fulfilling in my life and that recently, my ability to feel joy and have fun has decreased. Manu comforted me until he had to leave for a meeting with the Innovation and Science Center in Liepaja as he will be helping at the children’s chemistry camp at the beginning of July – I got notice that I’ll have to be on my midterm training at the time of the camp. In the evening, we went on a walk and discovered a watch tower in the National Reserve ‘Liepaja Lake’ – we had to walk through a moore to get there. The atmosphere from the wooden tower was so serene and tranquil. We stayed there for quite some time before going home near 10 pm. On the way there and back, we played with electric Bolt scooters: my first time 😀
In the night, I went out with a couple of friends from the Erasmus group as one of them was leaving on Tuesday, and he wanted to play guitar on the beach. For 2 hours straight, we fought the enormous mosquito army before we gave up.
On Tuesday, we had a meeting at the Youth House detailing the plan and the volunteer tasks until almost the end of August. It sounded like a lot of work, however, it is fairly widely spaced in terms of deadlines and possible dates to do our work. I enjoyed an evening on my own as Manuel went out with friends. However, when he came home in the night, he hit the bathroom door with the entrance door, producing a loud noise, that woke me up startled. That and my inability to sleep properly the last few days gave me anxiety, which took a while for me to get over. He proposed we play Trivia, which we did until 2 am when I had calmed down sufficiently and was even having a lot of fun with him.
Wednesday began with a very intense reflection mentoring session. Elina and I talked about the past 6 months in Latvia, how my YouthPass competencies have improved and decided to focus on career decision/development from now on. After that, I did a new moon diary entry to ask about how I want to feel in 6 months and plant some manifestation seeds. In the afternoon, Manuel and I took a short walk – I wanted to see the Peter the Great’s House Museum, which turned out to be a mere restaurant, so instead, we went to check out the gallery, where we found out that on Tuesdays there is no entrance fee. Cue us planning to go back on a Tuesday 😀 Manu was still very touchy, sometimes in a friendly manner, other times quite flirtatious, so later in the day, I asked him to touch me less as we broke up, and we talked about how both of us would like to stay close friends. I felt like he got upset at me for stating my boundary, and then I dealt with the feeling of guilt of making him upset while reminding myself that I had already explained my boundaries on physical touch and why I have them. There is no need to over-explain myself and we both have to figure out how to navigate our current situation, especially as we’re sharing an apartment. I am proud of myself for not begging him to understand and feel okay with what I asked of him, as it is counterintuitive to my personal well-being, and it gave him space to process it on his own.
Thursday was a boring day – my first English class fell through (some time ago a boy texted me asking for an English class), not much to do at the Youth House, but I did have a nice Bulgarian lesson with TJ, and went out with Manuel to the beach in the evening, where the Italians were saying goodbye to the Baltic Sea. I began reading Land of Stories: A literary journey through Iceland this week – it’s a very interesting book, I borrowed it from the Jāņi celebration host.
Emotionally, spiritually, and mentally throughout the month
This was a difficult month – unexpected, alternating highs and lows, and I needed so much discipline to keep changing my patterns when something in me got triggered. And did I get triggered this month, oh my…
There was the feeling that I wasn’t worthy, that I wasn’t worth anyone’s effort or interest in me (perhaps because I didn’t feel interesting enough). I tried asserting my boundaries, or I was triggered because I was surprised when they were respected, wondering why my boundaries are being respected when I’m not sure if I want them to be, and people from the past came forward claiming to be my friends now… Somehow I’ve noticed how I have high standards for my friends, but none for my partner. I want so much to fill the emptiness inside me and give love endlessly. But this gap is because it’s hard for me to take care of myself – I always want someone else to take care of me in one way or another. I’m not important to myself, and I’m not sure how to change it – I’ve started acting like I want to make myself happy with great enthusiasm, but it wears me out quickly because I still don’t believe it. Or I manage for a day or two and then falter again to take care of Manuel as the current target of my feelings, make him happy, give him presents, and so on – it’s much easier for me when I give all this care and love outside instead of pointing it inwards. The problem with this is that I don’t allow myself to feel fulfilled and complete on my own, I always need someone to fill me up. My current priority is to feel satisfied with my work, my leisure, and the balance between them.
I’m also overthinking a lot, which makes it difficult to focus on reframing my thoughts and shifting the beliefs that ‘I’m not interesting enough. I’m not worth the effort because I don’t have anywhere to go.’ I still believe in the lack of choice and in the scarcity of people that would actually like me just for who I am, not for what they can gain from me.
To top it all off, I’ve been sleeping badly with awful dreams for most of the month.
Editing this in July, I can remember mostly the good parts of June. I had forgotten most of the anxiety, sadness, and overwhelm I felt then – I did take some time away from Manuel, from ‘home’ at the beginning of July, and that helped me reach emotional equilibrium. When you’re in the whirlwind of it all, the world can seem so bleak and miserable, and it’s so easy to feel like a victim once again, even if you know you’re powerful enough to change any situation. Here’s to the strength, intentionality, and awareness, needed for creating your reality as you want it to be, even in the face of challenges 🍻
I’ll see you again around the 15th of August with the July in Latvia article 😉