I can't believe what I just typed in the title box. It's surreal. I'm looking at my final week at site. Next Sunday I'll be shipping out to Kiev and then a week later to Israel. I don't really know what to even type. I just figured I needed to create a post where I summarized how I feel. To be honest, I don't know how I feel. It's a mixed bag of emotions.
On one hand I'm ready to be back with my family and move on to the next stage in my life. But there's also a feeling deep down that i've fallen in love with the city i've lived in for the past two years. I don't know really how I fell in love with it. It's foreign. It's strange for me. It's a place I thought I could never really get acclimated to due to the language, the people, the culture, the traditions. Yet here I am on my last week, and i'm feeling more connected to it than anything i've felt connected to in my life. Maybe it's not the place. Maybe it's the people.
Yes, it's definitely the people. I mean, without the people there is no place right? For me this statement rings true, because I know that the people here make my life so much better, so much worth living. I love the kids I teach, I really do. Yes, they can be little brats at times and drive me crazy, but they love me, and I know that I love them. They come up to me now, knowing that i'm leaving in a week, and keep saying "Why are you leaving us?" I try to point to the fact that my visa is expiring, that I have family I need to get back to, that I am not a Ukrainian. But deep down, I feel Ukrainian. I even act Ukrainian now. I don't even know what that means, but I know that I do. I like their food, their traditions their swear words, their woman, their everything. I don't know what i'm going to do without Ukraine in my life.
Seriously though, this place has made an impact on my life that goes beyond words can describe. I have so many memories about this place and these people that make me feel so happy when I think about them. To name just a few that stand out immediately:
Swimming in the bay during the summer.
Going on walks with my students.
Eating shashlik with friends next to the canal.
Going to the local sauna with Dasha during the winter.
Watching my students graduate.
Watching a student read his or her first words in English, knowing that I had some part in educating them.
Sitting in the center of town and eating salted shrimp with beer.
Dancing with my director and having her kiss me and telling me that i'm the best.
Sliding across the ice on the bay during the winter.
Playing ping pong at the local church with students.
Taking photos with students.
Dancing at our local club piligrim under the stars.
Having a semechki (sun-flower seeds) spitting competition.
Playing soccer on an ice-cover field, slipping and sliding like i'm about to die, but laughing my head off the whole time.
And now... saying goodbye? I can't imagine it. I won't imagine it. I don't think it really can happen until it does. I don't know how to say goodbye. It's a problem I have. I never want to end anything, and now this is the end of a very important period in my life, and I still can't believe it's been two years since I arrived on a snowy morning in December 2010.
Where does the time go? I want to relive the moments, but I guess that's what we have memories for isn't it? The memories will hold strong for the rest of my life. I want to thank everyone in Armyansk for making me feel so at home, and for being so positive and helpful. You know who you are. Thank you. I will never forget you.