One year in Azerbaijan
02.06.2013 - 02.06.2014
Tuesday 2nd of June marks the one year anniversary of arriving in Azerbaijan, so I thought to note down a few reflections of the year abroad.
I vividly remember arriving at the airport in Azerbaijan, nervous, excited and full of wonder. It was a dizzying thought that this foreign country would be the place I would call home for the next year.
Standing in the shuttle bus at the airport I was looking at the people around, a few solemn looking businessmen looking bored and tired, an old woman leaning heavily on her son as the bus started driving, a little girl with pigtails and big brown eyes excitedly pointing at everything happening around. It seemed like the girl was the only one sharing my emotions of wonder and excitement for arriving in Azerbaijan. Her mother was wearily looking out without enthusiasm. Perhaps it was also the girls first time in Azerbaijan, or she was just happy to be back home, at any rate she was just as excited as me to finally be in Baku!
Now one year later I would probably be more like the bored business men arriving at the airport, the romantic honeymoon stage of my journey is lone gone, and has been replaced with routine of ordinary life. But I still remember and treasure the first few weeks when I was experiencing Azerbaijan for the first time.
One of the things I love with being abroad is the wonder of it all, how you can be like a child again exploring and discovering the world. Okay, I admit, that might be a bit of a romantic take on it, at times adapting to a new country is more a feeling of frustration, embarrassing and helpless. But for sure
My experience somehow came to a full circle at the 365th day (That would be Tuesday 2nd June 2014). I was showing an intern around the city and to her new work. The girl had just arrived a few days earlier and all of this was very new for her. I took her around to her new work, took her out to lunch in one of my favorite restaurants and talked about the experience of living in Azerbaijan.
Over the last year I have gotten used to many things I couldn't understand in the beginning. For example when the bus we were supposed to take to the city suddenly changed its route and started going in the opposite direction. A year ago, I would be lost, but now I had gotten used to the roads and paths and managed to find our way from his strange route. Dealing with narcissistic businessmen (who of course were late for our appointed meeting time by 50 minutes). Who arrogantly told us “yes, yes, we can negotiate the working hours”, though we already have a clear contract on it. I found myself firmly repeating the same contract to him and what they had agreed on, I have started to understand the language of business now and learned the hard way that every condition, deliverable and requirement needs to be stared clearly. (And to always have a wide buffer in the timeline, as nothing will happen on time.
The last year has been a (for the lack of better words) rollercoaster. It has been amazing, frustrating, perspective-changing exhausting and unforgettable experience. Its not over yet, I still have 28 more days to go, and I plan on making more memorable experiences!