(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.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend on a train

The last 72 hours of my life have been incredible.

Let me backtrack real quick.

3 months ago during swearing in, Alison (my beautiful clustermate) decided that she was going to have an epic birthday party, regardless of where anyone in our cluster was. So as a loving friend, I made the commitment.

Now, I had no idea I was going to end up in Crimea and she would end up in the north pole. Seriozna- I'm not kidding. The girl lives not far from the russian boarder in a small train town known as "Kupyansk-Uzlovoi".

Now, the logistics were, I would get on a bus to Dzankoy, the nearest train hub to my town (there's a train station in my town that only goes to Western Destinations, so when I go east, I must take a train from Dzankoy). Then I would get on a train at midnight to Kupyansk.

So all in all I was on a train 15 hours up (plus two hours on a bus), and 10 hours down (plus 2 hours on a bus).

All so worth it though. I got to see most of my clustermates, and a bunch of PCV's that I haven't seen since swearing in. All in all, it looks like my clustermates are doing quite well for themselves.

I was jealous of Alison's huge apartment, with an ice skating rink right down the road. We got to ice skate for a bit right as I got off the train so that was nice.

I also got to eat my first Ukrainian BURRITO! Yes, those two words were just used in conjunction. I too was shocked when I first heard about it. Now don't get me wrong, the thing was damn delicious, and HUGE. But it was no burrito. It had some kind of Kurdish spices mixed in with huge fava-type-looking-beans. I was stoked though, I couldn't have asked for anything else after a long day on a train.

The next day, (Saturday) we went into Kharkov and walked around for most of the day. Kharkov is amazingly beautiful. In my opinion even rivaling Kiev for the prettiest city I've seen in Ukraine so far. It had a really nice atmosphere, and definite signs of once being part of the communist empire we all know as U.S.S.R. For example, a GINORMOUS statue of Lenin in the center of the city (pictures soon to come). Also, the little symbol of the scythe and the hand with the star were all over the metro stations.

It was like going to a different country all together for me. Crimea is a good 15 degrees warmer (yes I know you hate me if you're reading this all you north-easterners). Also, the people just looked different to me. I don't know if it was the dress, or what, but being in a big city is always shocking for me after being used to living in a small community.

Well, it's 9pm on Sunday and I'm absolutely dusted. It was a great weekend though, thanks for being born Alison- if not for you I would have probably slept for the last 72 hours instead of marathoning my face off.

Good night- love and miss you all back home- talk soon.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Early Spring

Still can't believe it's Friday as I type this blog... Time has been moving quite quickly now that i'm back in school following the quarantine. After being bored silly with nothing to do for a few weeks, I've been thrown back into the fray.

Along with the 14 classes I teach, I have 3 English clubs that i've started. Two of them were this past week, and I would say they were a monumental success. The first one, which is for students from the 3rd-6th forms was so good, that apparently the kids told their parents about it and the parents called the school director to tell her how happy their kids were about it.

Now that's what i'm talking about. I mean, I never expected it to be recognized for my work, but the fact that I am is making my time over here that much more worth it. It's the little things, like a gigantic grin and sparkling eyes from a 2nd grader when you tell him that his drawing of a giraffe is "Atlitchna" (great/fantastic/wonderful), like a hug from a 3rd former who screams "Mr. Nitai! Ya skootchayoo tebya!" (I missed you!) after seeing him for the first time following the quarantine.

On a sad note though, I had to transfer my kitten, Remus, to my counterpart, Dasha. I started waking up in the middle of the night, wheezing and coughing. So luckily, Dasha wanted him so I just handed him over, and now I still get to see him often but without the allergic symptoms.

But on a lighter note, it seems as if spring has hit Ukraine early. Record high temperatures have been recorded all over the country, and Armyansk is no exception. Today I woke up to a bright blue sky and birds twittering in my window. I don't know how long it will last, but it sure does feel like spring.

To all of you back home, I miss you, It's been hard not seeing all of my beloved family and friends for the past 5 months, but just know, you are all in my heart and soul, and I truly don't know what I would do without you. Thank you all for your constant support and love. I really appreciate it.

Love Nitai

PS Here is a video of my English club, we were playing "Musical Chairs".

Friday, February 4, 2011

My new best friend

I would like to introduce my new partner in crime: Remus! He was given to me by a friend, and we've taken to each other quite quickly (we spooned all last night, don't be jealous). This will be the first time I have my very own pet (non-family pet) and i'm super excited!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The infamous night

So as you all know, I have been cooking quite a bit now that I have had a few weeks off due to the quarantine. I have tried all sorts of concoctions. Primarily dishes with the primary ingredients that are in season: Beets, Potatoes, Carrots, Cabbage and Garlic. Usually it would involve some kind of chicken soup, beet salad, or something in-between. However, tonight me and my sight-mate, Michael, decided to give something else a shot.

It was a long-shot, but I felt it was a risk worth taking. If you're wondering what it was, read on. I have been craving chinese food now for the past few months (ok, maybe since I got to Ukraine). I have been craving it so bad I have been having dreams about it. I am a sucker for Orange Chicken, and tonight, I conquered the task of making this deliciously greasy meal.

I can't believe it either. It's actually quite easy. Michael and I went to chinese food heaven. It came out textbook style. I can't believe how delicious it was still. I almost want to make it again tomorrow night.

Here's a short photo-story chronicling our endeavors:

Michael about to start frying our breaded chicken

Waiting for the oil to heat up


Whoops- plastic device was a bad choice to use in hot oil