dostoyevsky and desk lamps

it’s officially been a week since we arrived to our training site. seems pretty unreal. though one week really doesn’t seem like much time…it feels like we’ve been here for months already. (which i guess is a good sign?)

last week i could only say a few words and recognize a handful of letters. but now, sitting with my host family for dinner, i was able to pick up words and their general meaning. i can count up to 100, name family members and when i do open my mouth and attempt to speak i can have mini-diolauges and conjugate a few verbs. pas mal pas mal. (well that’s french). that’s the one bad (or really cool) thing about knowing more than one language. it all begins to mix in your head. and when i don’t know a word in ukrainian, which is 73.6% of the time, i automatically spit out a french word…as though speaking any non-english word will help get my point across. i’ve kind of been confusing my host family in that apsect. lol.

speaking of host families, i seriously couldn’t ask for a nicer one. sasha came home from his university on thursday after acing his (from what i gathered) thesis presentation. i walked into the kitchen and found my host laboriously making ‘варе́ники’ varenyky, a traditional ukrainian food (little dumplings with potatoes and mushrooms). i sat down with her and told her (rather mimed) that i wanted to help. she told me the other volunteers have all tried to make varenyky but weren’t very good, but she was rather impressed with my skills. at dinner, sasha pointed to the best looking varenyk and asked if i made it. i said yes, to which he took it, jokingly inspected it, took a bite, and gave me his approval. he’s quite the joker!

we sat at the table and talked for hours (mainly in english but with some ukrianian thrown in) about everything. and i mean everything. from my nickname ‘fartman’ (that was amusing to explain), nacho cheese, emissions testing and gas prices, russian literature and poetry. and somehow the night ended with sasha asking me to share some of my own poetry. he insisted that if a poem doesn’t rhyme, it’s not poetry (in his opinion). so as an english major, i felt it was my duty to prove him wrong and possibly turn him into a true poetry lover. so we spent some time reading one of my poems and trying to translate the words and meaning. it was so interesting. i give serious props to poetry translators. that’s not an easy task for sure. but he was so fascinated by  translating that he asked if we could read more of my poetry when jenya comes home. i wish i brought some gertrude stein or ezra pound. now that would be interesting to translate. but i don’t think he’s ready for that yet…

yesterday megan and i went to the track again and ran into the same group of teenage girls. as we made another lap around the track we could sense their giggling arm linked group closer and closer. we sorta felt like celebrities with our pack of following fans. we started to talk to them, or at least attempt to. they didn’t speak much english at all. and they were speaking sorjic (a blend of russian and ukrainain) so we couldn’t understand much. but from what we did get across to one another, they were all 15-16 year olds at school number 2. they asked us where we were from, what we liked to do, where we’ve traveled, if we like it in ukraine, and if we have a ‘beautiful boy’ (meaning a boyfriend). it was so fun to talk to them.  they told us they hoped we’d be teaching at their school. it was probably the most adorable moment. megan and i felt so cool. ; )

here’s further proof that my host family is the nicest: last night as i was getting ready for bed, i set my purse on my desk to pack it for the next morning when i hit the lamp on the wall (which i found out is just screwed into plaster) causing it to just fall right out of the wall. on to my computer. one of the two sconces shattered on my desk and the metal part dented my computer (but it still works just fine). it was terrible. thankfully sasha was still awake and helped me clean it up as i profusely apologized. to the point where he got the dictionary and looked up the words ‘relax’ and ‘calm down’ lol. he pointed out too that the two holes and scratch in the wall now makes a smiley face. when i came back from language lessons, i told my host mom i insist on paying for the lamp. but she just gave me a hug and said not to worry, she’s more worried about my computer. we walked to my room where i saw a new (accident proof) desk lamp waiting for me. i couldn’t ask for a nicer host family : )

6 thoughts on “dostoyevsky and desk lamps

  1. Hi Kristen,
    We have really enjoyed your blog entries and think you are writing such vivid descriptions of your life there. We eagerly check our computer for any new messages from you each day. We realize you may not be able to write often but love to hear from you when you have time to communicate. What a wonderful, thoughtful host family you have there! It is mutual as they are blessed by you, too. Hope you are well. God bless you each day. Love, Nancy and Dave

  2. Hi Kristen—- It sounds like you are doing great. I’m so glad you have such a nice host family.
    Nancy and I were talking about your blogs and I told her they kinda read like a book. You should keep track of them and someday have them published.
    Take care of yourself. We miss you
    Love,Aunt Carolyn

  3. Hi Kristen,

    So glad to hear you are doing well. I am loving your blog! Hope you can add some pictures in the future.


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