One of the most common pre-departure conundrums I faced was convincing people that Ukraine is not Siberia despite the surprisingly prevalent association. I can just hear myself smugly saying “It’s actually warmer than Illinois” completely believing that to be the case. A few months later I now know not to say anything with even a hint of confidence as it is currently about -18 F. It’s cold enough that my nostrils freeze when I walk 10 minutes to the store & school has been can canceled for the past three days to prevent a similar fate for children that have a 30 minute commute to school. Hindsight.
Luckily I’ve still been able to tutor and the Great Freeze made living conditions unsuitable for Garrick (the other volunteer in town)’s cat while he is in Kyiv for the week so I have a kitten to play with. I’d kind of prefer a dog as the cat has a propensity for hiding and would give Houdini a run for his money in my 20 square foot apartment, but when she’s not tearing down my curtains she’s nice. Allegedly this year is abnormally cold, a Russian winter, & the worst will be over soon but I’m going with my new ‘Don’t hold your breath’ philosophy & am planning to keep piling on the long underwear layers until I see flowers in full bloom.
For the time being I’m hanging out in the kitchen shoveling coal into the heater & actually quite content with it. I’m gradually catching up on all of the television shows that I didn’t make time for in the States & thereby highly recommend The Office & Arrested Development to anyone in a similar snowed-in predicament. I’ve thus rediscovered my love for Dwight Schrute & come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I see some resemblance in Buster Bluth (i.e. my mom & I have matching pajamas. Insert gag here. That actually was pretty problematic in my spree of horrible packing as I managed to stow away both pants & now have 3 pairs of PJ bottoms and only one top). Not a whole lot else newsy here (as evidenced by the TV talk). I did have a weird moment today when I was ‘exercising’. I like to stream B96 radio when I ‘work out’ because it makes me feel marginally less idiotic & I of course want to have things to talk about when T.I. gets out of prison & comes to visit me. I also like to listen to the Chicago ads, so imagine my surprise today when the announcer started trying to convince me to spend 2 years on an adventure in another country. That’s right, a Peace Corps ad live in my apartment in Ukraine; a little surreal.
I’ve also added my address (it should be on the right side on this page) but please keep in mind all of the multimedia references in this post- with internet & a cozy apartment I’m really in want of nothing. Letters are always fun, but I think anything bigger than an envelope gets expensive so really please know that I definitely don’t need/expect care packages.
School starts up again tomorrow (or so I’ve been told) & then I’ll head out Saturday morning for Vinnytsia (a big city 3 hours away) to spend the weekend with other volunteers in my region 🙂 We have meetings Saturday during the day & then Emily & Ashley (from my training group) & I are splitting a hotel & looking forward to hours of catching up, reminiscing on Morozivka, swapping war stories of our first month at site, & probably a good deal of subsequent laughter. I hope you have a good weekend too!