IM BACCKKKKKK!! Brace yourself for a long blog post because its been a month since I've posted and this past month has been insane!!
Hello from freezing cold, Estonia!! NOW I finally understand what everyone was talking about when they said that it would get colder because this morning I woke up and It was -4 fahrenheit!!! And just to make things even crazier, it was around 84 degrees when I left Florida on Sunday..... this is madness. Okay, now for the full month long update, I'll try not to make it too long but I have lots to say!
In the end of January I went on a last minute trip to London to see some family and some old friends!! The weather was much warmer than in Tallinn (so I got to leave my heavy coat behind!!), and I got a liiiiiiittle bit of sunshine. It was an awesome little getaway right before my big trip!!
The first week of February was spent packing and preparing to fly to Miami for the Global Ambassador's week of BBYO's International convention!! The day finally came and I, along with two of the teens that I work with and one of the older Madrichim, got on the plane and headed off to a jam-packed 10 days!!
So, BBYO is the world's largest pluralistic Jewish Youth movement, it's also the organization that I was a part of when I was in high school so it was a super cool, full circle experience for me to go back to their International Convention, as international staff. The first part of the convention (Global Ambassador's Week) was held in South Florida, during this time, we worked hard to create a community of all of the 200+ international teens and staff from all over the world. I had so much fun during this week, getting to be a tourist in my home state (I went to The Everglades for the first time!!), soaking up some warmth and sunshine, reuniting with old friends, and making lots of new friends from Croatia to Uruguay and everywhere in between! Here are some pictures from Global Ambassador's week:
Once we wrapped up the Global Ambassadors part of the trip, we all got on busses in Boca Raton, and headed to Orlando for the full convention to begin! BBYO's International Convention is this big, crazy, magical, jam-packed 5 days. Just for reference, when I attended this very convention 6 years ago in Atlanta, there were just about 1,000 teens in attendance and it was the first time that BBYO had ever sold out an IC and needed to put people on a waitlist. This year there were over 3,000 teens from 25+ countries, it was such an incredible thing to witness and be a part of. This gathering is a way to celebrate all of BBYO's growth and success, and it was quite the celebration, with two concerts featuring guests like AJR, Steve Aoki, Daya, and Fetty Wap, speakers like Aly Raisman, the Mayor of Charlottesville VA, Ben Nemtin (from The Buried Life), Scott Rogowski, Josh Peck, the CEO of Unicef, and so many others!! BBYO also rented out Universal Studios for a night, went all over the city sight seeing, and participating in learning labs and community service.
This weekend was very special for me for so many reasons. The first being, getting to bring three of the teens that I'm working with to this incredible event, with more Jews than there are in the entire city of Tallinn. Getting to experience this through their eyes was one of the best parts for me. The second being, that I got to return to an event/organization that is so close to my heart, and bringing my Estonian teens into my world was so much fun, since I have been spending the last few months in their world. I also got to see SO many old friends- A lot of people that I did BBYO with that I have not seen since high school, and even lots of old campers (which if you know me, you know this made my entire year!!!), and some old mentors of mine!!
This week was crazy, tiring, and overwhelming for me, so I can't even imagine how crazy the whole thing was for Anya, Jana, and Artur (my Estonian team!!), I am SO proud of them for representing the community so well, and loved getting to spend so much time with them!!
Here are some pictures from International Convention:
After the ten days were up, I said goodbye to all of my friends, new and old, sent my teens off to the airport, and was picked up by my mom for a week at home!!! One of the most interesting experiences for me was actually this car ride back to my house with my mom. I got taken back to when I was in high school, being driven back home after a long weekend at a BBYO convention, trying to articulate my experience, trying to remember all of the funny little moments, but never having the right words to describe it all. It's so cool that even now, as an "adult" these experiences can still give me some of the same feelings I had 10 years ago.
I had such a great time at home. These six days were also jam packed because I wanted to see as many people and do as many things as possible while I was there! I saw lots of friends that I missed, my sister came home for the week, my brother came home during the weekend, I spent some time with my grandparents, I even got to spend some time with two of the staff from Uruguay who stayed in Orlando for a few extra days, and I ate, a lot. I know the food is what everyone is actually interested in so here's what I ate: I had Chickfila (of course), Chipotle, Sushi from my favorite sushi place in Winter Park (Fuji Sushi, if you live in Orlando and have not been you NEED to), some home cooked meals, LOTS of iced coffee with FLAVORED creamer (I have yet to find any in Europe- also it was hazelnut in case you were wondering), and of course Halo Top ice cream!! I made a few trips to Target, Trader Joe's, and Publix, and of course did some shopping!! Sunday came, and it was time for me, along with my carry-on full of snacks from home that I miss, and my very overweight bag (that they still let me take on with out paying by some miracle!!) to get on another plane. I landed back in Tallinn on Monday at around 4:30pm, not dressed AT ALL for the weather, and half asleep I made it back to my apartment. The no sleeping continued when yesterday morning, I woke up unpacked and then packed again for a few days in the middle of no where Estonia at Spring Camp. Spring camp is basically an over night camp that happens in the "spring" (aka freezing cold), so far even with the jet lag, I am having a great time being back! This Saturday, I will do It all again when I head to Israel to meet up with all of the other fellows in my cohort, for our Mid Year Seminar. I'm SO excited to see everyone and to escape the cold once again!!
As always, thank you for keeping up with my adventures!!