|TWO BLOGS ON MY TIME IN UKRAINE;
||[Jan. 23rd, 2012|09:08 am]
Today, y'all get an update two-fer. I know it's a CRAPTON of block text, but this is more for posterity's sake than to actually think anyone would read it. Lets go!
This was written on 21 January, at approximately 6PM:
Wow Ukraine, what an experience!!! I have been here in Kiev a bit more than 24 hours and I am in a fairly intense state of culture shock, I think. Lucy, the friend I am staying with, lives illegally in a two-room top floor, 1950s soviet flat out in the suburbs. I am surprised by how small and run down it is, but I shouldn't be, because I know Lucy. We lived together last year and she is a very "free-spirit" type, you know, loves the romanticism of shabby things. I am slightly ashamed to admit that, as a girl who has grown up in a middle class American household, I much prefer houses and things that, well, you know, work...... Eek.
The architecture in the old section of Kiev is absolutely beautiful! Very eastern and grand-- glamorous! Today, Kathleen and I walked around in the city centre and Lucy's flatmate, Marina, showed us some of the sights, including a stunning old cathedral from the 10th century, and the Ukrainian version of the white house! Marina is from central Ukraine and has been studying at a state university in Kiev for five years. Her English is fantastic, really, and she is so kind. All the Ukrainian girls and women are so well made-up, in tiny skirts and high heels, even with 8 inches of snow on the ground and un-shoveled sidewalks! I mean, even by American standards, I am pretty low key of a girl, you know, ponytail and jeans etc, so I am sure that I stick out like a sore thumb!!
Everything is so very..... Soviet, as well! The metro cars are rickety and painted with ukrainian flags and everyone looks so eastern to me! They all wear fur and they never smile!! All the Russian and Ukrainian is so overwhelming! The only word I know is "nyet", which means "no". I have never been somewhere before where I didn't know the language because I really can speak French, when it comes down to it, and literally everyone in Norway speaks English. Also, Norway and France are Norway and France ya know? Not the same as Ukraine!
Even just the way that things are explained, how Marina says that it is dangerous to cross the road in the rich part of the city because the rich don't pay attention because they know that nothing will happen to them if they hit someone with their car, or how Marina very badly wants to go to visit the Shengen zone, but it is extremely hard for girls to get visas if they are unmarried, unemployed or employed in entry-level jobs, and do not own a house or a car, because governments are afraid that they will try and stay in Europe and that they will either try and marry a European man or become a prostitute! How unnerving! I guess I just never realized how many doors are open for me because of my American passport. I have always in many ways focused on the inconveniences that I face as a non-EU immigrant in the united kingdom, ya know?
Haha, the other thing is that Lucy has an adorable kitten! His name is "smurdiak", which means "bad wine" in Russian. He is about two months old and oh my gosh how cute! I am definitely a cat girl so the playful kitten just makes me melt :-)
Okay, I think that is about all for today. I am trying to be as honest as possible so I will admit that I find the whole thing rather scary, but I am here for four more days and I will do my best to make the most of it!!
Tess / jolteons
And this one was yesterday about 2PM-ish:
So although I have not posted my last entry yet, as I haven't had any internet access, it has been approximately another 24 hours since I last wrote! Due to a sad and complicated chain of events I would rather not get into just now (bleughh), I am now on a plane headed for the UK! Four hours! What a flight! Although it is unfortunate that I didn't get to spend my full week in Ukraine, I am looking forwards to getting home tonight. I guess I was only in Ukraine for three days, but I got over a hundred photos and it has definitely left an impression on me! I will upload the photos from my trip as soon as I can!
One thing that really surprised me about Ukraine was the smoking culture. I have never really been exposed to much smoking in an indoor setting, as it is illegal in public places both in Wisconsin and Scotland, and I don't really have many friends who smoke, but oh my gosh! Shocking! The other night we were in this like, sealed-off basement pub, and everyone in the entire place was pretty much chain smoking! I had not realized to what extent the smoking culture is very world-wide. Kathleen was explaining to me that smoking is highly prevalent basically everywhere in the world except America and to a certain extent, western Europe. In some ways I am very naive, and drinking/smoking/drugs is basically the top of that list for me!
I really wish I could understand Russian! First off, what a beautiful language! I didn't realize, since I can't hear the different between Russian and Ukrainian, but Russian is actually the most prominent language in Kyiv. I had expected that Russian would be spoken by mostly the older generation who had used it more during the Soviet era, but in fact, Russian is more the language of the youth and the language that the education is done in. I have learned one more Russian word-- bringing my total for the trip up to two, lol-- which I don't know the spelling of, but sounds like, "peh-jaal-suh" and means "please" :-)
Depending on how things unfold, I will probably be back on track with my travels on Thursday. I will just have to buy myself a train ticket down to London and all will continue on as planned :-) We must always persevere, you know! London and Riga await me! I look forwards to a couple days of down-time though definitely. I am still being sued about my flat, after all, and I do need to deal with that, and it is unfortunately the tip of the iceberg of my financial issues as apparently my rent has not been paid this month either, though as I am fairly careful with my money I am assuming that has to do with my student loans not having come through yet! Luckily all my travels had been paid for already!! I also need to start worrying about what I am going to do this summer. My really absolutely lovely time in France last week has left me really pushing to reach fluency in French, so I will certainly look into a summer work visa there. Hopefully I will be able to spend some quality time with the couple of friends I have who are still at university during the holidays. I also plan to cook a big pot of delicious chili. There is always an upside to every bad situation! :-)
Please keep well guys, and always remember to be kind to those whose paths you cross in life, for you never know who is carrying a heavy load.
Lots of love,
Tess / jolteons