Faith, Hope, and Love Remain

Alei's adventures in Ukraine

OMg Internet October 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aleicook @ 4:30 pm

I never thought this day would come.  2 weeks into this crazy whirlwind of a journey we finally have been able to hit up an internet cafe.  I’ve been typing up my posts on my laptop in the hopes of transferring them from my zipdrive whenever I get computer access.  Unfortunately the only internet access we have is in our neighboring town which is a train ride away so we can only go on weekends & the man running this sketchy little basement operation says ‘ni’ when I show him the drive so apparently I’ll not be uploading anything for the time being.  Next time I’ll bring someone who speaks the language & hopefully we’ll be able to figure it out.  In the meantime, here’s a brief summary of life in Ukraine: bizarre but fun.

I live on a farm, yes me, complete with a chicken coop, bucket baths and a cellar full of preserved fruits and veggies.  Until December 17 I’ll be living in Morozivko a town of 3,000 an hour south of Kyiv.  It’s surreal and overwhelming but my host family is incredibly generous & the other volunteers in my group are great so I think I’ll make it. 

I live with Sasha (Dad) and Looba (Mom) & their daughters Yanna (16) and Snijanna (13).  They’re all really sweet despite my horrendously limited Ukrainian vocabulary.  I’m sure they’re convinced that I’m an idiot but they never show any indication of it & spend hours making me Ukrainian food & encouraging me to eat more, more, and more of it.  Between the pressure any the delicious European chocolate I think I’ll be fat enough to handle the winter in no time. 

Speaking of winter, the weather’s been really nice so far & I look a little quirky in my ankle length downcoat as it’s usually between 50 & 60 degrees.  As far as quirky goes though, that’s probably the least of my problems.  We didn’t have any contact with home until last Sunday so the first week here was beyond rough for me.  In all honesty after day 5 of crying myself to sleep I thought it would be a miracle if I lasted a week.  In said state it was nothing out of the ordinary for me to walk down our dirt roads full out sobbing.  Additionally I can’t work out here bc I don’t know when my next bath will be but I hate sitting around all day, so I’ve taken to walking around the lone soccer field in town while going through my flashcards.  Peculiar behavior even in America, here it’s a source of constant confusion & more often than not I end up with two or three small children following me in circles like some sort of disinterested Pied Piper.  I really cringe at what they must think of us, but I must say it’s kind of freeing to know that they’ll ultimately just chalk up any abnormal behavior to our status as ‘Crazy Americans’.  As an aside, cell phones are truly amazing technology & I’m feeling exponentially better now that I have daily phone calls to home.

As far as daily life goes, I wake up around 7 and have whatever Looba left out on the table (she leaves for work in Kyiv @ 5) usually instant coffee & chocolate bc I haven’t really caught on to the idea of potatoes for breakfast.  I get ready (relatively speaking bc I bathe every 3 days & don’t wear any makeup) & walk about 10 minutes to my language teacher’s apartment.  Despite at times questionable hygiene practices here people really go all out w/ dressing up so we have to wear business professional clothes to language class where we sit on a couch in a living room for 4 hours and try to retain some…any…information.  Then we eat lunch (soup and tea) and the school & usually follow it up with a few hours of technical training.  The school kids are adorable & we start teaching this week which I’m really excited about.  I usually get home around 6 & am force fed soup & whatever else they try to gauge my interest in.  They’ve been great about not trying to get me to eat meat & the food is really good but really abundant & it’s always a fine line between trying not to offend and trying not to explode.  We definitely always have fresh vegetables and fruit juice (cherry!) though which is extremely welcome in my book.  After dinner I study for a few hours & then she usually cooks another mini-dinner/dessert which we have around 9 & then again at breakfast the next morning.  After 2nd dinner I study some more & then go to bed in my sparkly-wallpapered room. 

It doesn’t sound like much, but each day is a bit of an adventure & involves some sort of new phenomenon ranging from walking next to little babusia’s leading cattle down the dirt road or being chased by the myriad of stray dogs that roam the streets.  Dealing with culture shock and trying desperately to learn the language has been challenging, but I definitely feel safe & cared for & feel so blessed that my needs are more than met. 

I’ll try to post the previous blogs w/ anectodes next week when I get internet again, but suffice it to say that we’re finding ourselves in random but amusing mishaps left and right.  I miss you all dearly & hope you’re doing well.  Being thousands of miles away has further reinforced that I have an amazing support group back home & I’m so grateful for your thoughts, prayers, & fond memories to reflect on during rough days.  Really, thank you.

And for those  of you w/calling cards & looking to make my week, my phone # is 38 063 606 2113 and I’m 8 hours ahead of Chicago time 🙂

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7 Responses to “OMg Internet”

  1. Maya Says:

    Alei!!!!! I love you sooo much!

    First thing that popped into my mind is that you are a great writer! You really have an awesome command of syntax. I really wish you would incorporate that into something you do in the future– perhaps, writing a book about your adventures!!! 🙂

    Sorry! I had to get that out there.

    Secondly, I miss you a ton. Thanks for the journal and the honesty in it. It is awesome to read about your daily adventures and imagine you on a farm and bathing every 3 days. Hehehe. You will get used to it soon enough. It becomes liberating at some point. I really miss the simplicity of living in the rural areas… once you get over the lack of technology. I am glad you have a cell phone though and I shall call you soon!!

    Thirdly, I am so proud of you. I can imagine how rough it is, but as you said, it is getting better. I am so excited for your adventure and I cannot wait to hear more.

    Lots of love,
    Maya

  2. Ashley Says:

    Amongst all the things to respond to, i find it most important to say showering every 3 days sounds quite (ironically) refreshing to me! i’m proud aleigator 😉

  3. tricia klein Says:

    Hi Alei,
    I am so glad to hear you are adjusting. Your mom and I are going to try to find something fun to do this weekend. Mr. Klein and your dad are headed to Purdue Ohio State game on Sat. I really like that you have chocolate every morning to start the day. Have a great week and I look forward to reading more on your blog. As soon as I get a calling card I will give you a call. Take care and be safe!
    Love,
    Mrs Klein

  4. Nancy Says:

    I remembered you were going to blog, and I just checked it. Fun! You are on quite an adventure! You go Alei! You will be great at this just like everything else. For what it is worth, I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Colleen Says:

    I can’t believe you’re there! It;s so amazing to read what you are doing and try to get the smallest glimpse into your new life. I’m so happy things are going well and know you’re going to do awesome interacting and learning the language and helping everyone. Also, I agree with Ashley. How lovely. hahah stay safe and keep writing!
    LOVE YOUUUU

  6. svetlana Says:

    HI Alie.. i went through your leters about Morozivka. ) that is my hometown. Currently im in USA. Please contact me… I will love to hear about your life in morozivka..
    Svetlana..

    • aleicook Says:

      Hi Svetlana~ I’m so sorry for the delay. I can’t believe you grew up in Morozivka though. Small world. Where are you now?


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