MARS: an acronym for Monterey Accelerated Research System, a cabled-based ocean observatory in Monterey Bay, California

I am finally at my permanent site! If you would like to know what it is, along with my address, you can send me a private message and I will let you know what it is. I can give general information though. I live in the east of Ukraine, there they speak mainly Russian, though oddly, only Ukrainian is taught in schools. Maybe not so odd. I have a small apartment in the center of the city, or maybe its a town. Is ~80,000 a city or a town? My apartment is tiny, but oh so comfortable! I have a large bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom. Small, but its my own. 🙂 Everything is operated by gas. Gas stove, gas water, gas heating. I think this terrifies my school because they think maybe I will maybe leave the gas on and burn the house down. 😀 One kind lady is convinced I am going to kill myself and makes a consistent effort to call me every night to call me every night to ask if everything is ok. I have to be careful what I say as to not offend any possible Ukrainian readers, but my personal assumption is that I am still a child until I have a man to take care of me. Which reminds me, “Danielle, why are you not married yet???? I have a very handsome son I would like you to meet. He’s tall just like you.”

I teach at a ‘Gymnasium’ so the students are a little more advanced in languages than a regular school. No Stacy, a Gymnasium does not mean sports. Here, Gymnasium means a school for advanced students. I think there are about 250 students in my school, ranging from 1st form (grade) to 11th form. (Or maybe 10th? I’m not sure…) I teach from 6th form to the 10th form. I have my own classroom and it is perfect because the sun shines right into my room. My first week, this week, is the last week of this semester so mostly I just introduced myself to the students and played games. My fellow teachers are awesome! There are 7 English teachers and I think there are about 30 teachers altogether. Something interesting and depressing to note is that in Ukraine teachers make VERY little, (I’m not sure if it is kosher to put an actual figure here), but they are also required to pay for all their materials and classroom repairs. When I say classroom repairs, I mean new windows, wallpaper, new doors, and any other problems that might occur in their classroom. Apparently if the costs are high, parents will helps out but it is still a very high cost for teachers. Mom, No more complaints about American schools. 😀 (Or maybe you never complain…? Tee hee)

I have a fellow volunteer in my town. He is a Community Development volunteer so he doesn’t teach. (Yes, TEFL volunteers are better than you guys. :P) He is SUPER tall. This point is emphasized, (purposely to make him feel awkward just in case he reads this), VERY VERY TALL. Maybe 7 feet? He has been very helpful though because he has already been in my city for 6 months so he has started a network. Thankfully he has kindly introduced me! If you ever come visit him ask him about the EX-Army NGO. It’s a good story. So Christmas is on Saturday and I am starting to get a little homesick. Luckily though, the volunteers in my oblast are all meeting up to celebrate Christmas. I can’t say where as I would then fear for my life! But I am stoked to meet everyone who is volunteering around me!

So I have only been here a week and I already have a fan club. Its very nice because I no longer have to buy any chocolate but on the other hand I am predicting I will get fat from all the presents they keep giving me. I feel like a pop star here. (No mom, I am not fat yet. Still nice and fit.) I have one student who consistently comes into my classroom every break. He’s a good kid, but I have politely learned to keep on working even if he is standing over my shoulders watching me. So…as I am writing this, a group of 10th grade students have come into my class to decorate it for Christmas. I think I am in love with my school!

It seems I have written all about my site and I haven’t said anything about the Swearing-In ceremony. I am very proud to say that I performed the Ukrainian National Anthem on my flute. It was bad, but I did it. I hope to have the video up shortly. Also…the most exciting part, PETER YARROW performed a free concert for us! Yes, that is the Puff-The-Magic-Dragon guy. His band apparently also performed right before the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Pretty awesome, eh? (Side note: It is very possible he was stoned. Either that or he genuinely is the happiest person

I have either met.) I also have a video of that I hope to share…but…internet is slow so uploading could take 2 hours+.
Anyways, I must do something useful with my spare time, so bye! MERRY CHRISTMAS! Think of my lonely self during the holidays and send up a thought or prayer for me! I love you guys and thanks to my diligent readers and COMMENTERS! If you have anything specific you would like to know, let me know and I will put it in my net post!


9 thoughts on “MARS: an acronym for Monterey Accelerated Research System, a cabled-based ocean observatory in Monterey Bay, California

  1. Your apartment sounds nice…..although I wish I showed you more about how to use a gas stove. Gas stoves are really nice, cuz they turn on and off so quickly compared to electric. But I should warn you, gas ovens can run a bit hotter than the temperature that it states that it is. So, don’t try a souffle as your first test, until you figure the oven out.

    So, the thing about tall….does your guy have to be taller than you????? Please don’t marry in the Ukraine, because then you’ll never come home.

    It is so nice that students decorate your room for Christmas. But aren’t you off for the holidays? Here I go, getting confused again!
    I miss you more than ever over the holidays. I was thinking about visiting you in South America last year. It is hard to believe that it is more than a year ago. It is like you whistle into Hillsborough and then back out again going north, then south then east. I supppse that in the future you’ll be heading west…….Oh, no, that was your sister, wasn’t it. See, I get so confused in my old age here!.

    I did not have to do quite the classroom repairs that you’re talking about. I only painted my walls and the school paid for the paint.

    You know, Danielle, you might be getting chocolate because of the time of year that it is. It might not really be a fan club. I didn’t want to burst your bubble, but the chocolate might not be as forthcoming in January.

    I have this student who comes into my classroom after school and hangs around my desk several times a week. It drives me nuts and if I start talking to him, I don’t get anything done.

    Peter Yarrow was actually better known as Peter, Paul and Mary. There is some speculation about whether the song was written about weed, but the two writers of the song deny it. Peter got so pissed off “with that kind of idiotic analysis” that he mocked our American national anthem in order to prove that he could wreck any song with a drug-related interpretation. He claims that the song was written about kids getting older and how hard life is as you lose your innocence. For me, the song actually brings up fond memories of my cousins, my sister, and I singing with the record. (Yes, I know, I was around when there were records and record players. I can’t imagine what an original record would be worth these days…………hmmmmmmm)

    • HEy Mom, so technically its not holidays here since they celebrate Christmas by the new calender. Christmas isn’t th 7th of January. So, that, and the fact that the chocolate has been given at the beginning of each class means its probably my fanclub. 😀

      I know how to use a gas stove! Thats the point I was trying to make! I used a gas stove in Uruguay, in Finland, and even in my apartment in the US.

      Yah, I was thinking about South America the other day too. ITs crazy how fast time is going. I am actually already thinkign about how fast my 2 years of service here will be. Its Scary to think about. Wine, thats what always reminds me of you mom. You and red wine. Miss you tons. Merrry Christmas!

  2. Danielle!!

    I FINALLY got caught up on your blog posts! School has been crazy, but now I’m finally on break and had a chance to read them all 🙂 This comment will have to serve as my comment for all of them 🙂

    I think the gender issues/stereotypes are one of the more interesting things in a lot of foreign countries. I have the tendency to believe that you may be right about your constant calls and offers for marriage… It makes me kind of happy that I’ll be going with Tim. Although, at the same time, I can see that having its own host of perceptions and differences 🙂 Have you met any of these fabulously tall and handsome sons??? 🙂

    Anyway — I’m glad you’re happy with your place! Are you feeling more autonomous now that you have your own place? I think that living with a host mom could feel a little more like you’re a child, and now that you’ve learned something of the language, you’re into your adult stages of having your own place. Do you have your own bathroom? Do you have internet, or do you have to go to a cafe? How much do you work each day? Seriously though, don’t burn it down 😛

    I looked at all your pictures! LOVE the snow. Are you warm enough?! I hope you’re enjoying tim’s jacket, because he misses it dearly!! 🙂 I’ve been searching far & wide for a replacement just as fuzzy 😛

    Merry Christmas to you too! My parents said they really miss you and are sad that you won’t be coming over for Christmas this year!

    I’m still curious as to why your pals left? Just wasn’t for them? too uncomfortable?

    Anyway — it looks like you’re having a blast! stick with it, and you’ll do great!!!

  3. Hi Danielle,

    So you have made it and are now officially part of the Peace Corps, congratulations. It would be nice if you could give me an address (in English) so that if I need to send you anything I can!!

    Its interesting to note that you will be cooking by Gas, it takes me back to England and Whitchurch.. Mum is right about the cooking style but I am sure you will get around it. The chocolate and that students, mmmm, not to sure what to say there but I guess it is better than an apple!! Watch the calories though.

    I like the pictures but I wish that you had some sort of explanation as to where you were or what you were doing?

    Anyway, I hope you have a happy Christmas & New Year and that Father Christmas “Fills your Stocking”


  4. Danielle, you either underestimate me or you know me too well. Because… my honest first thought when I saw Gymnasium was, “Ewww… P.E.” Hmm…. I need to switch up my reactions, become less predictable. =D


    Much better. =D

    (Btw, sorry for the late late late reply; Christmas break was awesome, then I didn’t want it to end…)

    Ah, a tall guy. At least you know people are looking for you. =p Although the school part kind of stinks, about having to pay for everything yourself. =/ The building’s repairs should really not be the teacher’s job to look after, even for their own classroom. Still, I would imagine there’s some reason for it. At least you have the sunny room!

    Hmm, a really tall guy. Seems like all the guys there are tall. Does this particular tall guy have a name, or can I give him one, which will probably be something very unimaginative, such as “Tall Guy. 29.”? Also, what nationality is this fellow volunteer? And if he happens to read the comments, “Hello, Tall Guy. 29. I’m Danielle’s sister, and I have ten toes, five on each foot.” Danielle, I hope your Christmas, whenever it is that you celebrate(d) it is/was AWESOME. =)

    So your comment about being a little homesick made me remember this thingie I saw earlier when I typed, “mon petit chou” into google to make sure I knew how to spell it (and if you don’t remember your French for “my little cabbagge”, Ms. Blanchard will fly to Ukraine and kick you), and I stumbled across this other thingie that said something along the lines of, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, fondness makes the absence longer”. It was kind of awesome. =D

    Oooooh, a fanclub! Does Tall Guy. 29. have to watch out for potential competitors, Danielle? XP Just kidding! I’d have to meet him first, I can’t approve over the internet. =p Although I am inclined to agree with the general opinion that it could be the season or because you’re a new teacher. We’ll see how Valentine’s Day goes to see if you *really* have a fanclub or not. (Awwww, Danielle has fanboys!! Soooo cute!)

    It’s good to know you aren’t fat. But that kid sounds slightly scary. O.o I don’t like people, methinks. Still, your school sounds nice and friendly, which is always good. =)

    I so cannot wait for that video of you playing the Ukrainian Anthem on your flute. The “lol factor” will last for days, I’m sure. Not that I doubt your ability or I’m mean enough to laugh at you, ooooh, noooooo, I’d *never* do that. =D (I do love you, though. Just to remind you before you lob something at me from a distance of many thousand miles. Like five?)

    Erm… I am sorry to say, but I cannot garner enthusiasm for the idea of some guy singing “Puff the Magic Dragon”, even if it was for free. o.O I think that ranks just under the “I love you” song by Barney, and “The song that never ends” in terms of “Please close your mouth, and never again open it, lest I am forced to hear whatever it is you have to say next”-ness. Speaking of which, over Christmas Break, Greg was singing the Greg version of the Sesame Street song, which went something like this, “Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away, til the air is clear…. can you tell me how to get, how to get OFF Sesame Street?” It was really funny. =D Peter Yarrow guy was probably stoned, though.

    I can’t wait to see your videos; for now, I shall look through the photos you’ve posted!!!! Btw, I got your email, it’s just taking me ages to write back! And I will try and send you more music, but I can’t actually remember what all I’ve sent so far…. I should write it down… hmm. =D

    Also, reading over all the other comments, and having looked at your blog, I have to ask……………….. Are you *sure*, absolutely-positutely (or absoltively, if you prefer), that you know how to cook using a gas stove? *severe look*

    Hahahahahaha, just kidding. I’m sure you do. You used one in Finland, Uruguay, and America. =D (hehe)

    Time to read your next post! I love you, Danielle! I’m glad everything is going well. If you and Tall Guy. 29. realize through the help of all those old biddies around you that you are the perfect height for each other, let me know! =D

    • Tall guy, Conor, has a very nice girlfriend lovely. haha. Hes just a friend. And she has a hookah! 🙂

      Im going to kill the next person who asks me if I can use a gas stove.

      Stacy, I tried to upload the videos but I have to pay extra to have this feature on my blog. They are on facebook, but obviously you cant see them…MUST GET FACEBOOK! :D:D Yes, it is a waste of time, but so is a cellphone or a TV or Internet at all. Just manage your time properly.

      • Hookah=awesome in Danielle’s book? 😀

        Hehe, you know we love you. XD

        Ah, I think I’ll live. Plus, it’s more annoying this way. And time management… Yeah, I used to be good at that but this is Stacy you’re talking to. I invented SPT.

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