january twentieth

the steady drizzle of rain and warm temperatures in the 40s (fahrenheit that is) have me second guessing that it is in fact the middle of january. while i should be rejoicing in this tropical heat wave, i can only hear the ‘debbie downer/winter pessimist’ in my head and think ‘the cold is still coming’. ukraine wouldn’t let us off that easy, there’s just no way. even though we had pretty cold temperatures early in december, my guess is that we’re still going to be punished — hard.

and i’m not the only one to think this. ukrainians feel it in their bones — winter can’t be over. my neighbor sarah said her landlord kola pulled her aside, and told her in his long slur of russian words, ‘ssssssee the ssssssun? sssseee where it is in the sssssssky? that means icccccce is coming’. (of course he didn’t slur those syllables since he was speaking russian, but you get the picture).

so i’m not putting away my winter parka, my face mask of my yak tracks just yet. for winter, as ukrainians (a chicagoan) predict, is sorely not over.

on a brighter note, thanks to the help of some antibiotics for my strep, i’m feeling much better. i missed an entire week of school, which sounds pretty nice, but when going to school is really the only thing you have to do…you’re life is pretty boring without it. i even received messages from my students on vkontakte (ukrainian version of facebook) telling me to hurry back because lessons are so boring without me. adorable. a+ for them.

i signed up for vkontakte during training, mostly out of the insistance from my host brother and students. since i refuse to be facebook friends with any students, vkontakte (vk) let’s me silence their pleas for online friendship and keep in touch with former students, not to mention download free music. i don’t really do much of anything on vk, maybe upload an occasional photo from a school event. but since vk doesn’t have an offline chat mode, i try not to go on there very often, otherwise i’m be bombarded with messages from students.

most of them are just poorly spelled versions of ‘hello, how you?’ but then i’ll get the occasional ‘look at this photo montage video i made of my girlfriend’. being friends online with students is weird. i’d rather not know the kind of photos they post. the kind that are a little too mature for most of them. i mean, have 4th graders asking to be my friend. 4 graders! why on earth do they need to be online?! so then i just get all partent-like and worry about them.

but then sometimes, like this weekend, it comes in handy, all creepiness/weirdness aside. a former 7th grader of mine, rinna, messaged me to tell me she’d be in the city that’s a short bus ride away from me. she was one of my dearest students at the boarding school i taught at so  i wanted to try and meet up with her. after chatting back and forth in ukrainian, we figured out a time and a place to meet.

sarah and i headed to the city together and while i met up with rinna, sarah hit up the supermarket. an older man (a family friend) was there to chaperone rinna on her meet-up. rinna and i just walked up and down the street chatting, while the older man followed closely behind. i couldn’t help but feel like i was back in victorian times.

it was so nice to chat with rinna, she’s gotten so much taller since i last saw her. that certainly made me realize just how much time has passed and just how long i’ve been here. she still doesn’t know any english (i tutored her every week, *sigh*, i tried). when her chaperone wasn’t too near she pulled me in to whisper that she got a 4 on her english report card (a 4 is really bad). but she reassured me she’s succeeding in history and physics. she told me who was friends with who and the rest of the school gossip. there was of course a ‘ukrainian photo sesia’ where i think a total of 35 photos of me taken where i’m standing by random things. before we said bye, i wished her luck in school, told her to study hard, gave her a hug and said i’d miss her. and i will. she’s a sweet girl.

after catching-up with rinna, i met up with sarah and we continued our city shopping at the american-like supermarket and the very ukrainian bazaar (oh how i love bazaars here). and the rest of my weekend has been spent doing nothing productive at all. unless you can call movie night with sarah (anna karenina is SO GOOD!), watching educational “national geographic live” lectures on youtube, and taking photos of puppies productive…i say yes.


winter staples: cabbage, beet, carrot, potatoes (not featured in photo)


me and my student rinna. one of our many photo sesia shots.

and now for some photos of the puppies living at my neighbor’s house (sarah’s house and landlord’s house)



mama sleepin on the dog house

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