Living far

Now that the world is becoming more and more global and its borders are getting closer and closer, travels to faraway countries have stopped being a supernatural thing. Young people are attracted by faraway countries, other continents, unknown cultures and new people. What does actually living abroad mean, apart from everyday routine? Does it influence me, does it change me, and of it does, how does it work? This is a short story about my experience of living in a faraway land and about how happiness and inspiration come to us even abroad. © Paul Assies I had already had the experience of long trips abroad: I had spent a semester of university training in Istanbul and a summer school in the European part of Russia (Central Chernozem region). Now my bank of such travels also contains the experience of three winter months spent in Siberia. These three months were marked by wonderful encounters with new people, unexpected landscapes and impressions from living in a new and unknown country. Of course, there were moments when the feeling of alienation overcame the positive emotions, as I was a foreigner, meaning an alien. Yet, even that became a valuable experience for me and for my personal development. This influenced the way I looked at “aliens”. Four photographs will tell you about this trip abroad, showing encounters, events and people. These are the pictures of my life in Siberia.

New people, new views

© Paul Assies Let us start with the most important component, the people. I met new friends and I parted with the superstitions of my past. I had an opportunity of seeing for myself what the “Russian soul” is. It is an open heart and readiness to spend time with me, even though we are hardly acquainted. I keep all this in my memory, or, rather, in my heart. This is very personal experience for me, and would not like to forget these encounters and these people. And yet, no matter how different our countries may be, how much their climates, nature, languages and policies differ, here we are sitting together smiling and pleased.

A foreign course of time

Whatever your schedule in another country is, you spend much time alone there, being completely on your own. And suddenly, you realize you now have time for yourself, and your inner horizons begin to broaden. You slowly begin to immerse into a new unknown world. You begin to do things for which you normally did not have time: there is time now to read a good book, to listen to your favorite music and to walk in the park. And you do all these things just for your own sake. At such moments, far from all the problems and obligations, you have the opportunity to revise the regular course of thinking and to welcome inspiration. Such ‘conscious’ solitude is a phenomenon which is possible to experience not only abroad. Yet, it is easier to do that abroad, as you spend much time alone, especially at the beginning. At the same time, you realize there is a possibility of going out at any time, of meeting new people and of seeing something you have never seen before.


© Paul Assies These may be quite common stories of everyday life, for example, I once saw a dog wearing a down coat. The same is true of places and moments which one can see or experience only once in a life. Far from big cities in Siberia, it is possible to see intact nature, unique landscapes and endless snowfields extending beyond the horizon. At such moments, I was able to see what infinity was. Sad thoughts and feeling separated from friends and family who are at home — all this is gone, and I begin to think: “Yes, this is I am traveling for”.

The end

© Paul Assies In fact, these pieces of reminiscences can revive only a small part of the sensations Siberia gave to me. A long trip is always an ensemble of impressions which give me inspiration, which bring me beyond the limits of my own personality and show me the new ways to follow.

Translated into English by Tatyana Padve
© Paul Assies

Paul Assies

Paul is 23, he studies history and politics in Bonn. This year he has spent three monats is Siberia.


Paul's Blog on "Studieren Weltweit"
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