Thursday, March 31, 2011

Доoooбре Раaaaнук Amurrrrica!

I know... I know... it's been a while.

With moving, school, host familyish, and having little to no language ability, it's made finding internet a bit hard. But by this time tomorrow, I will have spent my first week in Kozelets!

Can I first say how awful / liberating it is to be disconnected to facebook and email for 5 days - literally 60 emails and a good 30 facebook notifications (granted there were a fair bit of pointless Cal Poly asking for stuff emails). So thanks friends and family for the love / tags I would have untagged 5 days ago if I could.

I guess I wasn't really completly disconnected - I did pick up a duel sim cell phone on Life:) My number is +38 063 656 7576. All incoming calls are free. So feel free to dial that number, as is, if you want to chat! 

Anyways, yes I am alive and indeed full of potatoes, borcht, and tea. Life in Kozelets for PST is going well. The town is pretty quaint and the cathedral looks awesome on a nice sunny day like today. I'm currently living with just my host mom Natasha. She has one son Shenya (age: 20) who goes to university about an hour away in Chernihiv who visits every weekend. My room is actually pretty big (I'm pretty sure it's Shenya's room) with lots of closet space, a desk, and a tv to watch Ukraine's Got Talent. Oh, and I do have hot water! I'm actually the 5th volunteer Natasha has had so she's kind of got this down to a science. She's awesome and helps me with language every night. We also go running at the sadium every evening. We have a dog Jake and a cat (which I can't remember her name). Both aren't allowed inside though. Natasha is very popular socialite of Kozelets haha - her 3 cell phones is always ringing.

Stray dogs here are everywhere! Picture squirrels, but substitude dogs - it's actually kind of sad, I want to own all of them.

My school scheduling is pretty flexible - I started at 9AM this week and it usually went to like 3PM. Classes are held at my LCF (language and culture facillitators) home and am greated every morning by their awesome puppy Rex (literally cutest dog ever - I will be posting pictures eventually)!  Aside from language, I'll also be working with a public school thoughout training. Thereofre, we just have to fit four hours of Ukrainian lessons at some point in the day. 
My cluster is pretty funny / hillarious - and I'm the only boy - so all of their host mothers want to marry me off... it can be a bit awkward.
Alright, I only have 4 more minutes left on this hour of internet so I better rap it up. Again, I'm alive and my belly is full (isn't that all that really matters?).

Also, spell check is in Ukrainian so... ha.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pухомих!! (Moving)

добрий день (good day) friends! So the welcome retreat ends tomorrow meaning I'm moving to my new home for three months! The weekend consisted of a lot of sitting and listening to lectures - I met some pretty cool people for all over. 

The moment you've all been waiting for. I found out earlier today I'll be living in a town named Kozelets in the Chernihivs'ka Oblast. 
Of course I wiki'd it immediately. It seems pretty sweet including a soccer stadium, large churches, and apparently internet cafes. However I'm most excited / terrified to meet my host family. We had our first language class today which went rather smoothly - however the entent of my vocabulary is still that of a baby. I'm sure saying hello and thank you over and over will be rather "fun" for my family.

Stay tooned! 

на добраніч

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2 Days of Travel

So it's currently 6:35AM here in Chernihiv, Ukraine. This is probably the best time to use the wifi here in the hotel because most are hopefully still sleeping (last night I'm sure the servers were overloaded with volunteers trying to access the internet that it made it basically impossible to keep a signal). It's currently 45F so my peacoat does wonders.

Anyways, so yesterday before we left for the airport in DC I felt obligated to at least go check out some of the monuments - seeing how I've never been there. Surprisingly, it was only around a buck to get down there by bus so I was stoked. Got to check out The White House (which was surprisingly a lot smaller then I was intending), Washington Monument, Linken Memorial, and just walked around the park. I was a bit jealous of all the joggers - I'd totally be down to run the 5 mile trek around all the monuments every morning.

The flight from DC to Frankfurt was long - even with trying will myself to sleep (which sadly only lasted a few hours). Most volunteers seemed to also be awake so there wasn't no lack of entertainment to be had. The inflight food and wine was actually pretty decent as well. I was forced to check my duffel carry-on (free of charge), meaning I literally had no extra clothes, no deodorant / toothbrush on hand throughout the flight which could have been a fun first challenge had it not all worked out. The hour layover in Frankfurt left me only enough time to purchase a pretzel and a beer - which I felt was appropriate to complete my cultural exploration of Germany.
my Ukrainian Visa - check out my name!
Frankfurt to Kyiv was a quick two hour flight. And was right when sleep deprivation kicked in - I napped for all but the take off, landing, and breakfast.  It was an interesting set of people on the plane; volunteers, a jewish group in all their get up, and some Ukrainians.

We were greeted with a fair crowd of Peace Corps staff once we arrived - all their flags and signs was comforting. I managed to find all my checked luggage! I was worried I'd be wearing my jeans and Cal Poly shirt for a good week while my bags were still in transit.

We hopped on a bus and drove a couple hours north to Chernihiv for our initial welome retreat. A shower and a tooth brushing was heavenly to say the least (I felt gross). I found out I'll be learning Ukrainian! While initially I though learning Russian would be cooler - I realized all the signs and transit information would be in Ukrainian meaning learning Ukrainian might be more practical. I still hope to pick up some Russian in my time here.

Our welcome dinner was pretty sweet - filled with awesome bread that tasted like angel food cake, beet salads, chicken legs, rice, chocolate, and of course tea and water.
my LCT / welcome bread passer outer

Monday, March 21, 2011

Made it to DC!

After a whirlwind day of flying yesterday, I've made it to Washington DC with everything I intending to bring! American Airlines neglected to check the weight of my bags (which were only a couple pounds over anyways) so I had no issues with that. 

However TSA made up for it. I guess I can't blame them - I was wearing combat boots so I must have looked suspicious. But my carry-on had to be re-x-rayed (real word?) three times and then physically searched. They were however impressed with my packing ability, which made me happy. 

Flight from SD to Chicago was fine, no crying babies, and I ended up siting next to another volunteer, which was awesome. Layover in Chicago was boring - I would keep the same plane to DC so I just sat there on the plane for an hour. And the final flight from Chicago to DC was rather quick, and I learned all about crazy librarian conventions from the woman sitting next to me. 

My theory of how I would manage to roll / carry / baby Carlos my luggage worked! Three volunteers and myself ended up sharing a van taxi to the hotel. It was a circus to watch all the bags go in but it somehow worked out. 
Apologies for the bag quality - on the iPod
The four of us went out for Thai food (sadly the last yellow curry for some time) and shortly after found myself passing out.

Staging and orientation begins in a half hour so I guess it's time to get ready. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Should I stay or should I go now?

After three attempts, changing luggage, and slowly packing all day (taking time for delicious delicious Thai food) - all is packed and "within" weight limit (one is 3 lbs over, so sue me!) However, I may have to wear my backpack like baby Carlos in The Hangover. 

The Packing List should now be up to date with what made the cut.

Photos courtesy of The Kansan  
redo attempt
the symmetry makes me happy
death and / or nap-time and / or success

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dear San Luis...

While I know we've been seeing each other for four years now, it's sad for me to see our lives moving in separate directions with nothing to do about it. With you staying put and me moving away, I can't see how we can keep up what we're doing. This conversation should probably be done in person however I know that writing it down is the most honest way for me to say how I truly feel and I hope you respect that. San Luis... we need to break up.
one of our first sunsets - circa 9/24/06
I'd first like to say how great it was to see our mutual friends and catch up in person one final time. Even though you knew it'd be the last time we'd see each other for some time, you remained your bright and sunny self and it put my worries at ease of how the future between us will be. 

my favorite video of you

I'm not sure if you knew this, but we actually met on my 18th birthday and I instantly knew we had something. You were always my go to distress freshmen year when we'd go running just about every weekend (though we all know I gave up on running second and third year).  I know summers were especially hard for me to be away from you - don't get me wrong I love Carlsbad and what she had to offer (in case you're reading), but you and our friends always found a way to find new adventures and debaucherous activities to get in.

Don't even get me started on hiking - obviously one of our favorite thing (which looking back on we totally should have done more of). Remember that one time - wait, I found a picture... look at us, gosh we're epic!  And that one time we hiked to the full top of The P in the pitch black with only crappy flashlights - good times.

Do you remember my house 2nd and 3rd year - ridiculous. I wish I could bring that kitchen with me. You were probably initially a bit jealous of our neighbors (or the creepy old woman across the street), but you learned to like them too (the neighbors, not the creepy woman).

Some of my most vivid things I remember of us were some of the noms we shared. You are an awesome cook - or better yet, chief / barista / bartender / etc... While we all know your specialty was Pint Nights, Chai Teas, & BBQ Tri-tip (which you did - amazingly), I was most fond of your small town, mom and pop style service that made me feel at home.

Senior year I'd say put the most stress on our relationship and I apologize for that. I was literally always busy and I'm sure you felt left out - but you understood I was doing something that would help better the next set of people you'd meet and befriend. 
But I'd say we still managed to have some fun - like owning my roommates room or finding your hidden dinosaur (while simultaneously almost dying from a car sized tumbleweed). 
Anyways, I want you to know I'll always be there for you and we should stay in touch (figure out skype already). Who knows, two years down the line our paths may cross again and we can pick up where we left off. But until then, I immensely enjoyed our time we spent together and have learned so much from you - reunion in 2k13, start planning!
Ain't she pretty

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

20 Day Mark

Let's begin with a picture that sums up my current and general life.
awesome sauce...
Life is a waiting game right now for a couple reasons...
  • I want my Euro 2012 tickets for March 8 of Ukraine vs (Insert Team) in Kyiv
    • buying two and seeking companion to go with (craigslist ad?)
  • Could March 20th come any sooner?!
Anyways, March has finally arrived and hopefully that means Spring is just around the corner in Ukraine - who wouldn't want to bypass the -9°C currently for another 9 months. My checklist of things to do / get is down to ten, weekend activities are booked, and only seven days left at work. I think I'm in pretty good shape - because god knows it will get crazy come the final few days.

Packing is coming along - meaning it's all in a pile still in my closet. I think clothes and things billowing out is a good sign, right? I've yet to weigh anything out of fear, but I'm confident I'll make it work. 

Language training is still something I need to get on. I was really diligent the first few weeks and have since been focusing on other, more immediate, aspects of prepping for departure. However I'm dedicating this month to learning the Cyrillic alphabet and hopefully trying to read a few words (and now I'm back to being 5 years old).

Other then that, tonight I'm actually pretty excited for because... 
  1. I found a place that sells this Ukraine Travel Guide which I will be purchasing.
  2. A few Ukraine Group 41 San Diego PCV's are meeting up for Russian food! I've heard the food is awesome / I pray it is because I'm sure I'll be consuming a lot of it.
I think that about sums it up - however after finishing posting this, I returned to my other tab to find this.
more awesome sauce...
I guess I'll try again later.

UPDATE: food was indeed awesome.