Here I am on my 2-week quarantine in Australia having a great opportunity to reflect back on incredibly challenging 3 weeks of Miss Multiverse competition.
I must admit the whole 2020 was a year of uncertainty and all about overcoming obstacles facing you with 21st century pandemic. I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent Russia in Miss Multiverse 2020 World Finals held in Dominican Republic. However, I had my doubts if the competition would go ahead considering implemented travel restrictions.
Despite overall panic whether the competition will proceed, Founder of Miss Multiverse Liinda Grandia reassured everyone on several occasions that the finals are a 100 % go and my preparation for this TV Show began.
My main personal objective was to understand that this competition was not like any other. It was a lot of out of comfort situations and 24/7 cameras that will be throwing me off during the tasks and challenges. I was mentally preparing for taking the whole experience in and of course trying to keep myself physically fit and get our required checklist sorted prior my departure.
I was kept throwing off my preparation as I had 4 flight cancellations and on the day of my departure for Punta Cana the lady at the check in desk said that they couldn’t register me on the flight and issue boarding passes. I thought that was the end for me. They somehow managed to get me on a new flight and re organized 4 stop overs to get me to my desired destination.
Back in that moment I was questioning whether that all happened for ‘a reason ‘ and if this was a sign of universe to not go further and give up to the circumstances.
Now I know – my challenge has started just little bit before the finals.
I arrived in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on the night of 30th of November 2020. I couldn’t have a better welcoming with meeting the crew and the girls at the Hard Rock Hotel where we were based for most of the time.
IQ TEST.1st week started with IQ test. IQ test was something I expected at the competition. I did google and did my research on whether I can somehow increase my potential score but it does take years of memory activities, frequent reading, continued education etc so I just had to work with what I had for now.
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Everyone was quite nervous on the day because it was our first official challenge. Short introduction to the task and 30 minutes given to answer 25 questions. Myself and all girls were anticipating results throughout the show. It is a harsh way of testing your intellectual potential especially when it is in the public eye due to our show format. The results may discourage people and some countries and companies prefer not to run this and be a part of overall testing system. We were given out our test results with scores and a number of questions answered correctly on the day of the finals. I was very nervous waiting for my scores and my name got called last so I had all this time to think and prepare for the worst like I always do. I was very relieved hearing I got the highest score for IQ. I gave myself a virtual tap on my shoulder thinking that everything does pay off and my love for ongoing education is bringing me results.
I do genuinely believe we can strive for better results and that score did mean for me that there’s still plenty of room to improve and work on.
CHARITY team. One of the highlights of our first week was announcement of the charity project. Organizers split us in two teams, asked to pick team leaders and explained how they would like to run this project this year. I am grateful to be a part of 2020 Miss Multiverse charity program because this was my first project where I was fully involved in the process. I personally got a chance to visit the local area, meet the family, go shopping to buy groceries, purchase construction tools, paint their little home and watch the progress live. I was selected as a team leader for our project and took the responsibility with excitement and pleasure. My team’s name is ‘House of Corazones’ which means ‘house of hearts’ that Miss Brazil came up with. Then Miss Moldova started working on our logo and while I was checking out the local area and meeting our family, the girls from my team created our logo, slogan and were ready for our first meeting to discuss further actions. After our first meeting as House of Corazones team we discussed what we should do and I allocated for each member of our team their main responsibilities so we can be as productive as possible. Miss Australia created our fundraiser page on GofundMe to raise money, and Miss America created social pages to keep updates for everyone involved and curious about the project and ongoing progress. One of the happiest moments for our team was to be able to find little barbie mermaids that two girls wished for their Christmas. Seeing them so happy and being able to gift them something they wanted gave motivation and inspiration for our team to keep pushing for fundraising activities.
Last Woman Standing. That was one challenge that I was specifically keeping my eyes on from previous seasons, studying the exercises and really wanted to participate. Having qualifications in Certificate 3 and 4 in Fitness, I was very well aware that it was a combination of physical and mostly mental strength that have to be in sync in order to keep going. However, I never really get a chance to test it in a such extreme way.
The night before that challenge, we got invited to join live concert at Hard Rock Hotel and dance our night away enjoying live band and music. It was 1 am and I started to have a feeling that tomorrow will be a tough day. I started to ‘minimize’ my dance moves to preserve the energy for something that I felt I would need later, in a few hours the next morning. I kept telling Miss Australia not to go too hard on the dance floor and that we need the strategy to survive tomorrow. Oh I was so right. The next morning, we had to wake up at 5 am, and at 7 am we had to be ready in our fitness attire, fed and ready to start Last Woman Standing competition. How can you possibly prepare yourself for that? I barely had 3 hours sleep that night, music was still buzzing in my ears and excitement for a big day ahead was keeping me up.
I must admit after we had a warm up done…I was tired. My energy level was low but my brain was ready to keep going.
Next, we were running to our beach location to start the challenge. That was only Miss Estonia who left the challenge shortly after the start but most of our girls kept going for over 2 hours. I slowly started doubting myself if I can even make it far as I was really getting exhausted. Watching so many girls keep pushing through exercises I knew I couldn’t just give up. 4,5 hours later It was only me and Miss Canada left. Totally exhausted, dehydrated, under 30 degrees heat and pure sun exposure, us two were trying as hard as possible to keep up with trainer’s orders. No break, just keep doing bloody jumping jacks that I will never ever do again 🙂 Running, push-ups, piggyback walks on sand, lifting tire, squat jumps, mountain climbers, goose walks… When me and Miss Canada were left dying doing repetitive exercises, all my concentration were based on girls screaming with support, ocean view to calm me down and Miss Canada exhausted face expressions. Miss Canada was giving it all and I could totally see she couldn’t hide her exhaustion and she was pulling faces trying to keep going. I was staring at her face and hoping for a moment when she would give in…My job was not to stop but I didn’t feel my arms and legs at that point of time.
When I realized Miss Canada stopped, I couldn’t help but tears dropped from my eyes from pure exhaustion and I was speechless for some time. Girls were very supportive of us and gave a massive hug to me and Miss Canada. Everyone was keep checking on us if we were okey to walk back to hotel. I mean I can’t even call it ‘walking’. I was crawling like an old turtle for a few days until my blisters stopped bleeding and muscles were back to normal.
Power of our minds can get us to places…we just can’t give up on ourselves. And yes, I would do this again!
The Jungle. At the end of the 1st week, we ended up taking a 5-hour bus ride to Samana where we got ‘thrown into the jungle. Yes, the real jungle. It was such a beautiful place for some and so terrifying for me 🙂
I am extremely arachnophobia and can only enjoy nature through the thick triple protection glass window far from the action or via TV as a great alternative. I have never done camping in my entire life and simply was not ready for it.
The reality hit me there and I knew this challenge was something I have to be mentally strong about and go for it. We had a fun bus drive, sightseeing beautiful Dominican Republic and appreciating the beauty of Samana town. Our first night we stayed at Santa Barbara De Samana. It was an awe-inspiring view with the harbor and I had one of the most beautiful and peaceful breakfast of my life.
The calm before the storm they say..
After our breakfast with breathtaking views, we moved to Unique Hotel at Playa El Valle. This is an eco-friendly exotic accommodation, where we had no air-conditioner and a cold shower if the electric power is out. We didn’t have reception most of the time, but we had a night sky, full of stars and rooms with no windows installed. Instead, we had window sockets boasting with fantastic jungle views and showers constructed along the El Valle mountains. Some people say ‘this is the place where nature meets satisfaction’, I call it my worst nightmare. Some girls were handling it very well, and some didn’t. I mean if you are really trying to get ‘pageant’ girl out of comfort zone this is the place to be.
Our first day in the jungle we played flag game where one team has to hide the flags, and the other find it within given time frame. I hidden my red flag in the red flower, imitating the actual bloom. First of all, if you want to hide something, you can place it in an obvious spot so people wouldn’t expect it to find it there. Second of all, this is literally the closest I can get so far by the jungle. The flower was right by the road and that was a perfect spot to comfort my terrifying feelings.
Second day didn’t go as planned and not everyone handled the jungle experience very well, deciding to leave in the middle of the night. For some girls it was an understanding of losing by the points at that moment so there was no point to keep going and that was a way to find an excuse and leave the competition rather staying in the jungle. For others, they didn’t feel comfortable about other people and stated their position that way. And some just couldn’t handle spiders, bugs, flying cockroaches and unknown insects crawling around as we are in an open jungle. That was my second sleepless night without my favorite roomies. It was around 2 AM at night when everyone left, zero reception for me to talk to somebody about it, with weird noises coming out of jungle and spiders that I couldn’t move or breath around. I was wondering that night how we are going to go with the rest, all I knew despite my phobia and losing my comp friends – I was ready to continue our jungle journey.
We had an awesome time playing paintball with the rest of the girls and had embassies installed by the beach and jungle where we had to protect our chosen VIP and deliver them across to our embassy. I got a bit excited about our game and the idea that our team could win. I offered our team captain Miss Spain to change the VIP and have me instead to run to the embassy. I went to the jungle side, sat between bushes and trees, waiting until the opposite team pass me so I can just run for life to our embassy. I was scared to death siting down surrounded by spider webs and at that moment I realized I was able to overcome my phobia to reach the team goal. Our team won and we had top time enjoying secluded beach where locals would cook us fresh fish and give us coconut water! We did get a chance to see more going to the waterfall, hiking through the vibrant jungle and visiting passion fruit-chinola- farm.
On the fourth day at the jungle in the morning we took a bus ride back to Hard Rock Hotel. We had the best time on the bus drive, listening and dancing to Latin music, and dreaming about washing our hair, hot water and spa. Little things that we got to appreciate being on such adventurous trip.
Wedding ceremony. After we arrived to the hotel organizers planned something very special for us. As we were doing a group photoshoot by the resort beach, we started seeing somebody walking towards us in beautiful white dress and black suit. It took us a few seconds to realize that it was Liinda and Frank walking on the aisle and just about to renew their vows after exactly 18 years of marriage where they initially met. It was such a precious moment for all of us and brought the whole group spirit together after a few challenging days in the jungle.
2nd week is on. Karaoke challenge.
Karaoke challenge was something that I was very nervous about and not very proud of. I apologize in advance if you get a chance to listen to me when our season will be screening on TV.
I don’t like doing something in public that I am realistically not good at. This Karaoke challenge was definitely out of my comfort zone. I don’t remember much from that moment. Whatever courage I have left – I took it with me and went on stage, I sang as much as I could, froze there for 2 minutes and glad it was over. You ask me if I should consider doing something about it – Yes, singing lessons. Would it help me? – probably not 🙂
However!!I had people coming over after that challenge saying that my voice was beautiful …bless you people and thank you for giving me hope in myself. Neeeeeeext challenge please!
That day wasn’t over for me yet. There was an announcement of a new challenge – Kayak racing in the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Miss Australia came over to me once we heard that we were about to race each other and asked if I ever did kayaking in my life. She was happy to hear that I had no clue on what to do and I was happy to race and just have some fun. My wi-fi wasn’t working so I couldn’t google and check what’s the technique behind it. I was walking with my head up and proud knowing that I was about to fail. Not only I couldn’t paddle in one straight line, I actually ended up hitting with my kayak poor family who were trying to enjoy our kayak racing. None of that family members got injured, however I received a moment of embarrassment and thank you to the child of that family who threw my kayak back to the right direction.
The next day organizers announced that it will be a challenge that everyone would enjoy and that we should put our swimwear on and get ready for another fun day. I was a bit nervous knowing we are on a beautiful island and there’s a lot of water sports activities. But guess what? I am not comfortable with being in a water since I got drowned when I was a kid and still prefer shower over bath.
The challenge was announced, it was Surfing competition.
No problem, the challenge was accepted!
I got quite during my preparation, and did plenty of practice on the sand asking instructor 1000 of questions. Since I decided to give my 110% and do my best – I went for it. I had an awesome trainer at Macao Surf Camp by my side screaming a few words in Russian and singing all Russian songs he knew to keep me in the top mood. I did catch a lot of waves that day and came 2nd runner up in the surf challenge. I was super proud of my girls – Miss England winning the challenge and Miss Australia taking 1st runner up spot. I really enjoyed the experience and getting out of my comfort zone. You only learn when you are stepping out of your comfort zone. If you ask me if I ever do it again considering I live in Australia for the past 11 years surrounded by most beautiful beaches on earth – HELL NO :). Let me stick to my ground sports activities please.
Escape room challenge. That was one challenge that I think we all equally failed…It was a hard one. That day we had a massive Surf challenge so by the time we made it back to Hard Rock Hotel and escapology room we were exhausted. Escape room game requires a lot of attention to details, understanding the mission, following the storyline with hidden hints. I mean we tried our best but we didn’t succeed that time. The lady who was explaining the rules said that only 7 % could make It through. We didn’t win that time but I would love to come back to this game and do it again.
On our last week we got very spoiled and organizers planned for us a trip to Santo Domingo, one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities. We had a chance to do some sightseeing at the Colonial City of Santo Domingo where after Christopher Columbus’s arrival in 15th century Santo Domingo became the site of the first cathedral, hospital, customs house and university in the Americas.
I love learning about history and seeing centuries-old architecture. Because of COVID the city was almost empty from tourists and we had one-off opportunity to do a photoshoot together. Next thing we did in Santo Domingo was going live and attend one of the most popular TV programs in Dominican Republic – De Extreme A Extremo. We had our beautiful Spanish speaking contestants – Miss Spain, Miss Mexico and Miss Brazil answering TV Host’s questions and speak about our Mission as Miss Multiverse women. Later that day we had a fundraising event dedicated to our Charity project, group discussions regarding its progress and a few hours of interviews with contestants.
Our last big challenge was a Business Challenge. At that challenge we had to come up with top five marketing strategies that could potentially increase revenue for our major sponsor of Miss Multiverse – Hard Rock Hotel and Casino giving us only 15 minutes to brainstorm our ideas before the presentation. I think our team did very well and our strategies were worth looking into. In the modern world of Digital advancement, information technology and social media platforms we can do so much. I love this type of challenges as it makes you think out of box to come up with something that others can benefit from. After sharpening our thinking and presenting skills we were ready to do pageantry activities to get us all ready for semifinal and grand final nights!
Semi Final and Finals.
The very last week was mostly pageantry-oriented activities – finalizing our fundraising totals for each team, rehearsals for both semi- finals and finals, doing our practice runs in national outfit, bikini and evening gown. I spent decent amount of time to make a national outfit with my friend to represent my country at best. The whole outfit was handmade and took us 60 hours to make it by sewing each piece of mirror glass to the skirt, bodysuit, traditional Russian sleeves and headpiece called “Kokoshnik”. My national outfit was inspired by Russian Mosaic technique where I saw it first visiting The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in Russia, 2017.
I had a great feeling about Semi-finals after completing several challenges and was very excited to receive the top 10 sash, meaning we had a few more days until the main day – The world finals night of Miss Multiverse 2020.
Finals. It was definitely nerve breaking and at the same time one of the best moments of my life that I will remember and cherish forever. When I was announced as a winner of Miss Multiverse 2020 my heart melted and I saw all the girls congratulating me and were so genuinely happy for me saying it was a such well deserving win. That meant so much for me. I couldn’t ask for a better competition and TV Reality Show to be a part of.
I was thrilled to receive so many sashes on the night of grand finals – Miss Intelligence, Miss Leadership, Miss Last Woman Standing and Miss Business.
2020 was a challenging year for everyone and this win was a definite highlight of the year for my career and work giving me a solid stand to share my beliefs, values and experience. I would like to thank Founder and CEO Liinda Grandia for giving me a chance to participate and I promise I won’t let Miss Multiverse brand down and do my absolute best to spread our mission, empower, educate, inspire women and men across the world. That win means that there is a lot of hard work for me yet to do to really make a difference. I am totally taking full responsibility and desire to accomplish that and make Miss Multiverse proud of contestants that they bring together every single year.
That was one big challenge that I personally faced throughout the entire competition. We were taking out separately to do our interviews every day to tell what we did, how well we thought we went, what we think about other contestants and our overall impressions. I used to stutter when I was a kid and still struggling with this especially during public speaking and when on camera. I finished music school specializing in piano just to overcome this major issue and being an adult I understand I have to keep pushing myself to get better at talking on the camera and in front of people. I am hard on myself and strive for personal excellence and I know it will take me years of practice to get there. This TV Show really gave a chance to improve my confidence in front of camera. Hence why I will be seeking further course or trainer to improve my public speaking skills and accent.
Inspiration that kept me going through these 3 weeks.
These incredibly challenging 3 weeks were the hardest out of all international and local competitions I have ever been a part of. I was preparing physically by eating nutrition-rich foods, training every single day and of course mental readiness to be on camera 24/7. But there’s one thing that kept me going throughout these 3 weeks especially when I was watching people giving up, crying or getting upset. It was music that kept me going, Actually, one song that was on repeat all this time and I listened to it every time I had an opportunity. I don’t even know where I heard it from first but it was just 2 days before my trip. I downloaded it and will share with you just some of the lyrics. Song called – ‘Get on your feet’ by Marius Bear.
- Nothing’s what it seems girl
- You have the strength to rise
- You shine like a beacon
- The light pours from your eyes
- The city is a jungle
- But your spirit cuts right through
- Get on your feet
- Get on your feet and make a stand
- Take on the fight and tell the world that you’re invincible.
Doesn’t matter how hard it takes you to get where you want to be – you need a time to yourself and let your spirit recover to bring more strength into you.
These songs can really help you and you are free to try this technique and ‘get on your feet and make a stand’
Hares the link to the song that kept me going through the wonderful journey of Miss Multiverse 2020
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