Igor Travels Abroad

"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take."

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Vacation, Family and Hospitality….

Such a marvelous week has passed by and the end of semester 4 has arrived. Finally, time to recover from all the sleepless nights of final exams and studying with two whole weeks of vacation. I’ll find out my grades by this Friday and will start semester 5 after the break.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting my SEG coordinators for USA and South America region and we had a great, lively conversation about student life. It is always wonderful to meet such amazing people, especially my USA coordinator, Aline, who has helped support me through the past two years education. For those of you who read about my time when I did the CBYX program, she is like my betreuer(featured right)

For my break, I decided to fly back to where I was born in Russia and visit my grandparents. After surviving through the wars, especially World War II, my grandma is getting older and it’s always a pleasure to be able to see her and help out, especially cleaning the apartments, going for more walks and making sure that everything at the apartment is in order, since things are falling apart and I fix them.

More importantly, I love spending the time with her and hearing her stories and supporting her, being the strong and loving woman she is who helped take care of me when I was just a little boy. I owe it to her and love her very much.

Family is the most important thing we have and we must always support our family, especially our grandparents who are getting older. And not only to take care of them but to accept them and love them no matter what.

For break, I decided to go really go offline and I’m feeling great. I’m sleeping a lot and “recovering” from exams, eating healthy, going for daily exercise, reading many great books, such as American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, and have no internet at home. It’s a wonderful and much needed break.

Today, I gave back and went to a local business and spoke about hospitality, studying in Switzerland and the English language. It’s always nice to help others and provide value and I really had a blast. The next couple of days, I’ll see old friends and more family and my parents will come this Friday. I’m very excited.

I’ll leave you with this, as it was a question that was really good that one of the employees at the business asked me. He asked, “What is hospitality and what does it mean for you? Of course, there’s hotels and stuff but what does it mean?” What a great question, as I think it is a great conclusion to this post.

Each person of course has their own definition but for me, it is the act of caring for other people. To make them feel welcome. To exemplify true and authentic humanity and help others. To do the right thing, even when no one is looking. A combination of integrity, trust, compassion, love, care and support. That, for me, is hospitality.

Until next week,



Jamaica, Home of Yaa Man, Jerk Chicken and Dolphins!

What a great week! I set sail with my family from Miami last Monday and we traveled to many countries such as Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and Cuba. Apart from the beautiful, calm waters at sea and great food, I enjoyed partaking in many activities around the different countries. We were in a large ship, the MSC Armonia, which was fully booked with 3,300 passengers and crew and weighed at over a staggering 100 million pounds / 45 million kilograms.

Firstly, my little sister, mom, dad and I flew from North Carolina to Miami, Florida.

I was tired and definitely excited for a vacation!

My first stop was the beautiful country of Jamaica.

A small history of Jamaica, prior to the arrival of Cristopher Columbus in 1494, the land was called Xaymaca, meaning land of water and wood. After Columbus landed, the Spaniards enslaved the native people and were later defeated by the English. Jamaica is now part of the British government and is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being their queen. Yes, they drive on the left side of the road. As they say of the sides of the road, there’s the left side and there’s sui side.

The motto of Jamaica is “Out of Many, One People” symbolizing regardless of the differences of the citizens, they are one. Their flag of green, black and yellow stands for, Nevermind the hardship of the black people (black), the sun still shines (yellow) and land is green (green).

History lesson is over, let’s get to it!

Since we were already tired from being on the ship and wanted to go swimming, my family and I went down the coast from  Ocho Rios to Puerto Seco and arrived at the beach. The water was absolutely beautiful and clear as glass. There  I swam, enjoyed eating some jerk chicken and swam with dolphins.

You might be wondering, what is jerk chicken? The local dialect of Jamaica is Patois creole. Some words are

Jerk = Hot and Spicy

Pickney = Child e.g. girl pickney, boy pickney, grandpickney

Iry = Really good, E.g. How are you? Iry man!

Yaa, zeen, ohhhh, hmmm = Yes or agnowledgement of listening (like uhh-uhh, yea, yes, ok)

Yaa mon = Definitely! (reassurance and is used with both men and women)

When there’s something wrong going on, or a problem, Jamaican’s don’t call it a problem. They say, “No problem!” If there is a big problem, they call it a situation. For example, a Jamaican would react like this. e.g. The car is almost out of gas. No problem! The car broke down on the road. No problem, just a situation!

Now you’re a native speaker! Iry mon!

At Puerto Seco, I met my dolphin, Jazz, and she taught me how to dance and surf!

Jazz is a 12 year old female dolphin. Fun Facts about Jazz: She can hold her breath for up to 15 minutes and swim over 5000 feet deep during that time. Dolphins’ skin grows back and replaces every 20 minutes! and when they rest, one half of their brain turns off and sleeps while the other half operates. Once that side of the brain is recharged, information is transferred to the other half and the first half rests. This way, dolphins can actually be resting while they are dancing below!

Jazz loves to swim, especially when I held on. She jumped up in front of me and I held her flippers and she swam over 50 meters with me holding on. I also held onto a board and two dolphins pushed my feet with their noses and propelled me over 50 meters too.

 And some more dancing afterwards! We actually sang twinkle twinkle little star and the dolphins twirled in circles above the water, clapped their fins and sang the song with their spouts, which can produce up to 2000 different sounds!

When Jazz was tired, she definitely liked to get a hug and rest in my arms.

An hour later, it was time to say goodbye to Jazz and before I left, she came up and gave me a kiss.

Overall, Jamaica was absolutely amazing. I loved the kind people there, beautiful beaches, comfortable and warm sunny weather and delicious food! I can’t wait to return and say hi to Jazz again!

Next up is Mexico and Cuba, where you can learn how cuban cigars and rum is made and see the city of Havana. Stay tuned for the next post!

With Best Regards,


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North Sea in Germany

On Friday, I departed to the North Sea for the weekend with my host-mom, dad, and Bella (my host-dog). Since I injured my leg, I couldn’t run in the Cologne marathon, which was something I was looking forward to for 3 months.

My host-brother stayed home and he ran for our school’s marathon team. Today he ran 7.2 kilometers for the team.

Friday evening, we arrived to our vacation house in the North Sea. It was very windy and seemed like a tornado was sweeping through the town. It was typical 😀

Between my host mom and I, the word typical is an ongoing joke. When I first went to the doctor when I had a severe cold, since I was sick, he said ,” How are you? What’s wrong?”

I looked at my mom and didn’t say a word.

He got the expression on his face thinking, “My God, your son is 16 years old and you didn’t teach him German?”

She told him I was an exchange student from America.

He said what I had was typical.

And everything here is “typical”

So the weather at the North Sea was “typical”.

That night, we went to a very good Greek restaurant and had pork with cheese and rice. Also, I tried the best German beer I have ever had. It was a type of beer made 5 miles from where the restaurant was. It was with lemonade, so it tasted great.

Later that night, I read a book called , “The $100 Startup” (http://100startup.com/), a wonderful book on entrepreneurship and listened to music.

We went to the beach the next day and I got to see the largest marina in Europe and biggest oil plant in Germany. We went shopping and I bought a new sweatshirt and scarf. We went to a traditional German restaurant in the evening and ate hog with potatoes, Krautsalad, and another salad with sour cream and cucumber. It tasted very good! The hog was to hard to eat with a fork and knife, so I took it to our house in the North and ate it at home. (I could care less in the US, but eating with your hand in Europe is kind of a no no 🙂

Today, my host dad and I cleaned our driveway of some moss and leaves and then we all went for a walk to the airport and then to the beach, which was a UNESCO heritage site. It was very nice. We got home this evening and we all had a wonderful time 🙂

Front of School

Front of My School

My School

Back of My School

Cow at North Sea

Cow at North Sea


Carolinensiel and I

Fields at North Sea

Fields at North Sea


Nurdachhaus “Roof House”

More animals

More Animals


At The Harbor

Farms and "Sea Hill Sheep"

Farms and “Sea Hill Sheep”

A Seagull

A Seagull at The Docks

UNESCO Heritage Site

UNESCO Heritage Site

A View Near My House

 A View Near My House

And finally,


The Sunset at Home

Thanks for reading.

Have a great day,