(All opinions and descriptions of life in Ukraine contained herein are mine. I do not, nor am I qualified to,
express the official opinions of the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in Ukraine

I was fortunate enough to be granted leave from my first weekend at site to go celebrate the holidays with a bunch of awesome PCV's down in a small town south of mine called Nyzhnygorski (I think that's how you spell it).

I got to ride an electrushka, which is the same as a train, but for some reason has a different name due to it's nature of frequent and prolonged stops. What would have taken me 2 hours by bus took 4 hours on the electrushka, which was an awesome experience by all means.

The train culture in Ukraine is amazing, it's like stepping into another era. It's as if I had stepped into Soviet-Era Ukraine. The train was wobbly, creaky and old, but I found that there were plenty of benefits of this mode of transport. First of all, the ticket was 10 grvn, which translates into about $1.25. Furthermore, it was a direct route down to the town where I was going to, so I wouldn't have to do any confusing swaps at Djankoy, the main hub of transportation in the northern part of Crimea.

Hopping off that Electrushka into Nyzhnygorski, I felt very proud to have solo'd that short trip. Every small thing I do in this country feels like a huge accomplishment. After wandering around the town for a bit, with the help of Vicki, the host of the party, I was able to find her apartment.

To sum up the weekend: it was amazing. I ate sooooo much good food. I mean, I am warming to Ukrainian food, but theres nothing like food from home- Turkey, mashed potatoes, REAL leafy salad. I say real because it had actual lettuce- something very uncommon in the Ukrainian cuisine.

In addition, I got to meet a bunch of the PCV's in my region. They were all really friendly, and one of them even knew where Nevada City is! I thought no one knew where my hometown was located outside of Northern Cali. Also, I feel like I got a lot of good information about what I can expect in the next two years. Let me tell you all, it sounds pretty awesome. I've been blessed. Crimea offers a lot of awesome sites to travel to, and they are all relatively close to each other due to the Island-like nature of the peninsula.

Here are some pics from the weekend:

Colette striking a pose

Vicki wrastlin' the Turkey- one of the best turkey's i've ever had
Cortney- being Cortney... nice sweater btw.

Reeebeeeeeeeeeeee (fish)

I'm gonna get me one of these as soon as I find a shop in my town.

Colette blending into the Ukrainian bazaar.

Egg-slangin' Bab

Christmas tree time- don't think any of these ones were real- they did have a bunch of real ones all over the bazaar though.



Mmm mmm I love Vareneki (kind of like tortallini)

Had to leave this one in color- god this is making me hungry...

Nap time after chowing hard.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Armyansk- First of many photo sets

Yesterday was my last day at school before the holiday break starts. I met all of my classes, and must say that I am really really pleased to be at Schoool #1. The kids are energetic, friendly and very curious!

I was fortunate enough to get out of class pretty early, considering I only have a couple of classes on Thursday, and walked around for a while photographing most of the town- which isn't too hard to do, considering it's only like a half an hour by foot from side to side.

Here are some of the pictures:

4th Form studying

Dasha Teaching (she needed pictures for a teachers competition, so I gladly took them for her)

School #1 Christmas Party

Nastya (Dasha's daughter) the rabbit (zaychick)

"Ded Marose" ("Grandfather cold", i think that's how it gets translated)

The huge plane statue in the center of town- not quite sure of the story behind it yet...
So there are these little wooden statues carved out from old dead trees all over the town, i am planning on taking pictures of all of them and making a collage to give to the city hall- here are a few of them, there are at least 100 more all over Armyansk.

Shopping district

Preferred mode of transportation- in front of the local bazaar
Bus stop

"Titans" football stadium

The canal near my house

The path home

Michael Walter- my site mate who taught me how to make onion rings!
PCV party at Michaels house
Don't try to mess with his onion rings...
Onion vision

School #1 10th and 9th form dance

Dasha (yes there are 2 english teaching dasha's at my school) dancing with a student

9th form girls

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Apartment!!!

I met my first four classes today at School #1. The kids seemed really nice, and even though I was really tired I felt really excited about the prospect of teaching again (even though it has been 3 weeks or so since I last taught, it feels like forever). Here are some pics of my apartment and the community map I made for my ELF (Emergency Locator Form) that PC requires of us.

My Kitchen

My Living Room (yes it's messy still, I haven't been able to fully unpack due to the fact that I'm getting a new wardrobe this next weekend- so don't judge!)
My desk and porch (it's behind those curtains)
Front door and hallway (bathroom is on the left)

My beautiful pink-themed bathroom! Yes, I'm stylish like that.

My ELF form in all its glory!