I’m back from Germany! (For those of you who knew I was going in the first place.) It was such a blast! But as sad as I am to be back, Ukraine finally feels like home now. So, here goes, the last few weeks that I have lazily avoided writing:
March 8th, Women’s Day. This is apparently an international holiday but I first heard of it actually being celebrated in Ukraine. Each teacher in my school donated 30 грн to a celebration and then each department was assigned to make a dish. The English teachers made a delicious mayo crap salad.(Ukrainians thrive on mayo). After all the food was prepared, all the teachers gathered around a big table where we ate and drank. A few teachers had prepared some skits and games, including a skit about how a rooster made a hen pregnant and then out popped a baby egg, (pictures included). To say the least, it was entertaining.
I unfortunately was leaving for Germany the day of the town celebration. All I saw was a women’s version of Guy Fox ready to be burnt (picture also attached) and a large crowd of people munching down on goodies and singing. I’m still puzzled as to why the would BURN a fake woman to celebrate women’s day…
Upon landing in Germany I found my debit card apparently didn’t want to work, even though I had called ahead of time to warn my bank I would be overseas. Thankfully the credit card worked. I proceeded to take a bus to Munich to the train station, and then I hopped on a train to Cori’s town. Damn train was late for the connection though so I ended up having to take 3 more connections to make up for the one lost connection. So all in all, I was about 2 hours late. Funny though, Ukrainian trains are much slower and older, but they never leave late, or arrive late, and I have never missed a connection.
It was really great to see my sisters. How couldn’t it be with the 6 bottles of vodka I managed from Ukraine, including one specialty bottle of Chili-Honey vodka! Hehe. We spent 2 days in Cori’s town and then we moved on to Nurnberg where there is a small castle and very good beer. (Although I’m pretty sure good beer is a German thing all around.) Ohhhh, BEER. IT was soooo tasty. Beware though of much higher percentages of alcohol than in the US or in Ukraine. I was personally unaware of this and then consequently surprised when I felt buzzed just after one beer, (Though Conor might say I have always been a light weight).
So I was with my sister Corita for about a week, and my sister Kelsie was there for 4 days. After seeing them, I headed to Munich where I met some friends that I had studied abroad with in Finland. Lucky me, one friend is engaged to a wonderful girl, Johanna, whose mom had a house in the Austrian Alps, so guess where I got to go stay and ski for FREE??? My first time ever skiing, IN THE ALPS. Johanna’s mom was WONDERFUL and a tad bit crazy. The 51 year old lady BASE Jumps, Skis, Snowboards, and in two months she will hike the Rocky Mountains alone. (P.s. If any family or friends would like to host her, join her or just meet her while she is in the US, she would REALLY APPRECIATE IT. So please shoot me an email. This lady is wonderful and I assure you that you will immediately fall in love with her.)
So back to skiing, we took a lift to the top of one of the mountains and there we ate with the most wonderful view in front of us. By the way, Austrian food is really sweet. There is tons of sugar in every meal, breakfast, lunch dinner. (And did I mention their BEER? :D) I am not a big drinking but I could never say no to a Germany or Austrian beer. Its so NOM NOM!
Back to school tomorrow. I am kind of mixed happy/sad about this. I miss my students and I know that since I have been to Germany their attention spans might be a little longer than normal (and I might even receive some I-missed-you chocolate). But really, going to Germany and seeing my family made me a tad homesick.
Speaking of homesick, some things that Americans who have never lived in a 3rdworld country have but don’t necessarily appreciate: Peanut Butter (Thank you Cori’s friend Hunt), Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Taco Bell , Dr. Pepper, REAL FRESH ground coffee in the morning, Pot-holeless Roads, WiFi, Hot water/ Hot showers (and powerful showerheads), and supermarkets, (yes I know this one could be debated, but you have no idea what life is like without variety.) This is my recent epiphany I had while in Germany (not on a toilet) when these various things were available to me and I realized how much I missed them. I seriously spent an hour under my sister’s shower head in the barracks cheesily smiling to myself and thinking how much God loved me to give me all these things. Why is it everyday in America I was standing there in a shower thinking how long it had been since I had taken a bath? (Which I still very much enjoy in Ukraine, even though I thoroughly loved the powerful showerhead).
Anyways, School, not so exciting because that means I am back to work. But summer is almost here and I am starting to feel more motivated and alive again. Conor tells me of these beautiful sunflower fields where there are sun flowers as far as the eye can see. We are planning on buying bikes and making the most of the nice weather! I am also stoked to see if maybe we can bike to some nearby villages of neighboring volunteers. What do you think 40 minutes on a bus turns into in bike time?
I have been accepted to be a camp counselor at an HIV/AIDS camp in the summer and it is my job now to help raise money to pay for it. From what I know, we need about $15,000USD for the camp and we are still hugely short. We would really appreciate any contributions, big or small. Also, if anyone knows any HIV/AIDS organizations that would contribute, please tell! I am super stoked because I have wanted to get involved with HIV/AIDS for a while but I unfortunately got rejected from the working group and thought this would mean I couldn’t be part of the camp. I kept showing up to the meetings anyways though, volunteered for group responsibilities, and talked personally to the volunteer organizing the camp and I finally got accepted! Whooo Hoooo! By the way, please note for sympathies sake that Donetsk Oblast (my region) has the HIGHEST RATE OF HIV/AIDS IN ALL OF UKRAINE. So that means that YOUR contributions makes a difference (Please repeat this phrase out loud to yourself and imagine Sam pointing his finger at you).
Anyways, bed time, or technically ‘Oh-shit,-time-to-sleep,-I-had-better-start-lesson-planning’ time. Thank God I have pictures from Germany! That should take up four 45 minute classes, right?