It has only been three weeks since I left and it feels like forever. With all the Russian, studying, and teacher training, it feels like its been weeks already that I have been here. Monday is my first real lesson. I will be teaching a bunch of eight year olds. My partner, Charlie, taught the class last lesson and it was good to see how the students reacted. They are very visual it seems so I will have to put a lot of work into visual aides. I am excited though so no complaints about the work.
This last week has been crazy busy and frustrating. Out group went to the mayor’s office to meet all the politicians, but apparently there are elections at the end of October so only one person showed up. We had been practicing all week how to present ourselves in Russian and no one even came. I won’t complain though because our link group, (a group of 6 volunteers who lives in the next town), had to present in front of apparently ten people. This happened again on Monday. We were supposed to meet the county head person but when we showed up for our scheduled time, he had overbooked himself and could not see us. To be fair, he dropped by our school to meet us later that afternoon.
My group cooked our first Ukrainian dish on Wednesday. We cooked Борщ (Borsch), which is a soup/stew that consists of mainly of chicken, beets, beans and carrots. It was absolutely delicious! The whole cooking experience was hilarious though because my LCF (Russian teacher) arranged for us to cook at my house… in my tiny kitchen… with 8 people! Everyone was bumping into each other. There wasn’t enough room or kitchenware to cut, grate, and peel all our vegetables. As if it wasn’t already bad enough, our LCF who was the one instructing us has NEVER made Борщ and she doesn’t cook! The entire experience was done through my babushka shouting out instructions across the room…there were several moments when ingredients had been thrown in in the wrong order, or just not added at all. It was still good though.
I washed my first load of clothes last weekend and I learned a couple of things about washing clothes by hand. Firstly, your clothes are only dirty if you can actually see a stain or if you can smell them. Socks and underclothes are exceptions. Only under dire circumstances do you wash large items such as jackets and sweaters. And lastly, washing clothes makes for a weeks worth of exercise. I thought I was being smart to stock up all my laundry for one load and do it all at once but boy was it a pain. The tub wasn’t big enough so I could only do a little at a time. Then after the clothes were washed, I had to immediately hang the clothes on the line in order for there to be enough room in the wash room for the next load. Once all the clothes were on the line, I went outside every two hours to see if the clothes to dry. My babushka tried to tell me it was pointless to do so, but I only realized her wisdom when two days later my clothes were still damp on the line. Apparently cold makes clothes dry slower. (Luckily I had spare underwear stocked up.)
I can’t believe this only just occurred to me, as it seems to be the only exciting news in my life. I got attacked by two dogs walking home from school on Thursday last week!!! It was terrifying! Now, all drama aside, it wasn’t THAT bad. No skin was broke and I walked away with everything intact. I do have some bite marks in my pants for proof, but otherwise I am ok. There were two dogs like I said; one medium sized dog and one small dog. Sadly, I immediately called my LCF in tears to tell her what happened and then she got the brilliant idea that the Peace Corps headquarters needed to be informed. They made a huge deal about it, (Though I am still waiting for my personal escort to bring me the electric ‘dog-scarer-awayer’ they promised me). On Wednesday, we had a Peace Corps doctor come from Kiev and he was apparently told to have me show him where the attack happened. When we got to the spot, there were the same two dogs who attacked me, but, of course, the dogs were calmly sitting in the grass and they even nicely approached us when we talked to their ‘owners’, (technically they were strays but they hung out by a factory and appeared to have sworn allegiance to the factory owner). After this, the doctor and my LCF switched from being overly concerned to interrogating me about all the possible reasons the dog attack could have been my fault. A recap of the attack: I had my headphones in, arms crossed, and I walked on the opposite side of the road to the dogs. There was no singing, jumping, or running involved, as I was asked several times. Conclusion: ARGH.
I had my first bad experience with food the other day. My host mom served me a plate of chicken…and boy do I love chicken…but I would rather call this a plate of bones. And skin. And it was black. I wanted to take a picture and post it but when my host sister, Yelena, relized what I was doing, she stopped me and said it would be offensive. Oops.
Nothing much else has gone on this last two weeks…WE have mostly been busy studyign all the time and going on random feild trisp to museums, the bazaar, and my house to cook. (The Bazaar is cool btw…tons of stuff to buy…and cheap!!!) Hopefully I wil get a chance to write again but sooner. Thanks for reading and keep up with the comments. It is good to hear how the real world is doing! 🙂