Check this out – next weekend will be my one-year anniversary of living in Ukraine with Peace Corps! And as any true Ukrainian (or someone trying to integrate into their culture), this blog marks the beginning of my celebration.
I couldn’t be more thrilled and excited about making it this far. There are plenty of tough days when I question what I’m doing here, and so making it to this anniversary feels like an accomplishment. As I reflected about the last year, I realized that there are many tangible ways in which my life now is drastically different than my life was in the States. And so, in honor of this anniversary, I’ve made of list to summarize the past year:
One year of…
- Buying milk and yogurt in a bag
- Speaking Russian
- No air conditioning and minimal heat
- Having two cell phones
- No driving
- Eating more potatoes than I ever thought possible
- Confusing “breasts” and “hot dogs” in Russian (how am I still making that mistake??)
- Considering buying clothes covered in sequins just to blend in
- Teaching English
- Surviving one Ukrainian winter
- Learning my limit when it comes to vodka
- Not having a TV
- Learning how to maneuver the politics of a Ukrainian school
- Living on the top floor of an apartment building without an elevator
- Enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables
- Buying drinking water
- Learning how to bake from scratch
- Travelling by train
- Sleeping in a sleeping bag
- Using money that resembles monopoly money
- Cooking eggs in almost every imaginable way
- Taking off my shoes before coming into anyone’s house
- Perfecting my “no smile” face when walking on the street
As you can see, it’s been an eventful year! I’m feeling great about where I am in my service and I’m really looking forward to getting settled in at school this year. I’m especially excited because I am teaching two new groups of fifth graders, who literally cheered when I walked into the classroom last week. They are also overflowing my English club (what a great problem to have!), which means I am going to quickly fly through the remaining supplies I have for English club. And so I have a few requests for care package items:
- Any kind of school supplies (like pencils, pens, erasers): I usually give them out as prizes for the various competitions that we have during English club. The kids love anything from the States, so even a simple eraser is enough of a prize for them!
- Candy: Like most kids, my students love candy. It’s best if you can find some that are individually wrapped.
- Postcards: My students love learning about America and they get even more excited when I can show them postcards from different states. When we have more complicated games, I give the postcards out as prizes.
- Magazines: I use magazines a lot with my older English club. I can usually find good articles from the magazine or make good activities surrounding them. It’s great because my students are interested in pop culture, and magazines are a fun way to practice English.
Honestly, I will find a way to use anything you send! After being here for so long, I’m getting pretty good at finding ways to use whatever is available. Thanks!