I’m back back in Ukraine, back to “life”, and I miss the hell out of my cat, Skittles. As a child we had cats and our neighbors had a dog we played with, but mostly, we were raised to think animals have no souls and cats cannot get attached to their owners. When I saw tiny little Skittles outside with obviously no family, I thought to myself, “OK, I’ll take her in, and when I leave, I’ll just put her back on the street. At least she’ll survive a year longer than she would on the streets.” So here I am, a year later, about to go home in 4 months, and I am panicking to find a way to get her home with me. I’ve grown to love that little fuzzball…and I truly think of her as my little daughter. (Yes…looks like I’ll be the crazy cat lady when I get old…)
Germany was a blast! No problems with the plane and none of the 11 Vodka/Cognac bottles I brought to my sister were broken. (Yes, 11; since she is getting married soon, I thought i’d spoil her). However, when we finally got all our stuff and walked out to the waiting zone, my sister did not even see me. She only saw Conor and then loudly exclaimed, “Holy SH*T! You’re tall!” and then carried on staring at him with huge eyes. I was like, “Hello! Sister! Over here, haven’t seen you in over a year, Helllllllloooooooo!” ❤ you sister. hehe.
The first few days of the trip were with my sister. She showed us around a bit, ate some great food, went to some bars, drank ACTUAL coffee, and mostly lazed around and watched Narutu. Like a lot of Narutu. Possibly a good 60 plus episodes.
Then we met the adorable German, Johanna. This was probably the most interesting, and the most planned, part of the trip. Johanna spoiled us. We went to see a famous castle built by [whats his name???] who was a famous Bavarian king who ran out of money building too many castles and then got declared mentally ill because his advisers didnt want him ruling anymore. Then he and his doctor were found mysteriously drowned in a lake…cool castle he had, and nicely placed in the middle of an island. (Also, check out the size of that slug!)
The next day we went to Salzburg, the Mozart and ‘Sound of Music’ town. We went to a castle overlooking the town and the view was beautiful. Unfortunately though, we were in a hurry and had to leave after only a few hours. Cool though, to say I was in Salzburg. And I loved the movie. Mozarts cool too.
After that, we went back to Johanna’s [AWESOME] house and celebrated her birthday with a Pancake cake. It was delicious. However, I had been in the emergency room while with Corita due to a severe neck ache and I was unable to eat anything, for fear of not keeping it down. I ended up just stopping the meds because I wasnt able to enjoy any of the famous Gemany beer and delicious food. (Not to worry though, back on meds in Ukraine, ones that are allowing me to eat too!) Happy birthday Johanna! Gettting old! :D:D:D:D I love my adorable German Friend….I will never forget you.
Next stop was a wedding in the south of Munich of my two German friends. (I studied with the groom, Nic, in Finland in 2007). Besides Conor and I, Nic and Johanna (Another Johanna) are probably the most fantastic couple I have ever met. After being together for 6 years, they finally got married and they seem just as much in love as when I met them 3 years ago!
The wedding was really interesting and the food (and alcohol!) was AWESOME! The had some really cool, unique ideas to spice up their wedding. One idea was a photo booth where a camera was set up and all you had to do was push a button and pose. Of course there are going to be some crazy pictures from that!
Another idea they had was have pre-stamped postcards addressed to Nic and Johanna. Each guest was to write a wish or promise or something on the postcard and then tie it to a Balloon and let it go into the air. When they are found, the finder is supposed to put it into the post. 🙂 Cute, eh? They also rented a Sauna and hot tub the night before and provided free booze. Hmm, what other ideas? Oh yah, they has a magazine they were selling with funny stories of them together, pictures of the guests, and jokes about Bananas (since the bride hates bananas). It was really clever.
After all the fun and cultural experiences and friends, Conor and I were more than ready to head to Prague and just relax and do what we wanted without a schedule. (Though we love you all dearly!)
Prague was amazing! The city is so beautiful and there is so much history. The main square was my favorite, but it was wayyy too crowded. They had a really cool clock with the zodiac signs on it, and a church with a dead hand of a burglar hanging from the room and a super awesome cathedral. I could go on and on and on.
I think though, that one of my favorite times in the trip was drinking a beer and Becherovka (A Czech cinnamon alcohol drink) in an underground medieval bar lit by candles. I had a similar experience in Estonia 6 years ago and these types of experiences have always been the coolest.
Funny enough, the worst part of the trip was when Conor and I got the brilliant idea to take a boat ride down canal. Of the 2 hour ride, 50 minutes was spent waiting in line to be transported to the upper level of the river (I forget what its called). We then spent 20 minutes going one direction, 20 minutes waiting for another boat to get out of our way, and then 20 minutes back. We didn’t see much.
Coming back to Ukraine was as sad as I thought it would be. A few tears maybe. It was weird seeing so many things and wanting to just turn to my side and giggle about it with Conor. But I will live. 4 months more and I am home!
I planned to go straight to camp to keep myself busy. The camp was in the mountains in the west of Ukraine. There were about 20 staff, 4 from the US, one from Azerbaijan, and one from Poland. All around, the camp was the most organized Ukr camp I have ever been to (since time and a plan man almost nothing here), but the Ukr staff were a little hard to get on with. It wasnt that they were bad or anything (except one which I will tell about), its just that no one introduced themselves, or took an effort initially to welcome or talk to the foreigners. They were great with the kids though, so I have respect, but there was just such a huge gap between the locals and the foreigners, which I personally didn’t like.
The biggest problem at the camp though was the director of the English teachers. Argh…just a rant, I apologize! She was TERRIBLE! She had absolutely no idea how to work with foreigners and no effort to even TRY! The lady was constantly belittling us and telling us off in front of the entire staff for stupid reasons is an accusing manner which just vexed the BEEEP out of everyone. Example:
Every Sunday we have a movie day. We have about 3 1/2 hours for the movie and discussion. We chose “The City of Ember” (great movie). The movie ran for 1hr 45 minutes, which meant we had approximately the same amount of time to discuss the movie as we had to actually watch the movie. For a woman who has taught English for so long, I can’t believe she planned it that way. Getting kids to talk for that long is like pulling teeth. The first 10 minutes are pretty easy; the next 10 minutes are bearable; any more discussion and the kids want to pass out. Its impossible. No one wants to discuss a movie for that long in a second language.
So, this Sunday, after pulling teeth for 30 minutes, we still had an hour left before the lesson was done and we were out of ideas to get the kids to talk about the movie. We decided to watch an episode of Simpsons. Now, I know that sounds bad, but it wasn’t. We watched a very harmless episode about aliens…and the camp was Outer Space themed. The episode contained no bad language, no racism, no sexism, no drugs/alcohol/sex, etc. It was innocent. It perfectly ended with 15 minutes or so to go. We talked about it and then let the kids go 10 minutes early since lunch was next anyways.
Oh boy did we get chewed out. The next morning in the staff meeting, the lesson director said accusingly to all the American staff, “Excuse me, what makes you think you can let the kids go early??? That is not ok. Jamal and Ewalina were able to keep the kids entertained up until the very end but for some reason you guys are incapable!!! And who gave you permission to watch Simpsons???”
I’m strong-willed hate being accused of things that I don’t deserve, so I responded for all of us. Oh boy did I respond…I argued the same thing I wrote before, about how it was bad planning, not thought out, (oh, and this same director slept through the last movie rather than assisting in our discussion so she had no idea.) Not only that, but I arrived at the camp and was given no instructions except that I would be teaching Astronomy, which I know NOTHING about. NO lesson plans, no guidance. It was the same for this damn film…no guidance. Nothing. As for her argument about the other 2 teachers keeping the kids busy until the end, they had little kids, and they made crafts after the film. But last time I tried doing any sort of games when I had extra time after the lesson, she yelled at me about that too. Why would I think it is appropriate this time????
This lady just wanted to fight, to argue, and she was picking on us about things just because. Even though we had valid points and she has been totally unhelpful in every aspect, she still continued to yell at us until finally we all just walked out fuming. On more than one occasion, we overheard her talking bad about all of us and laughing at us.
At the end of camp, we told the main director about how this lady had treated us. Every single one of us said we won’t be coming back and that we wouldn’t recommend this camp in the future if the terrible lady still worked there. Sad day, because I liked the camp overall.
Did I mention that I have a new apartment? Just moved the week before I left for Germany and now I am setting it up. Pictures…eventually…It has one large room for a bedroom, one medium sized living room, a larger-than-before kitchen, and the bathroom and toilet room are separate now. The place is more modern…nothing is falling apart…no more leeks…and soooo many windows!!! I love it!!!
I signed up for the GRE (General Entrance Exam) for Grad school! I am soo stoked! I never thought I would go on to get a graduate degree…My family never really talked about it, so I had no idea why I would get one! (ha!) But now, I am studying my arse off and soon to take the exam…Wish me luck…Im on my way to being edumacated. (That was on purpose)
I think that’s all folks. See ya next time!
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