Nichole Stilwell's Semester in the Ukraine
March 15, 2010
Hello again everyone!!
Wow, I can't believe I'm already half way through my time here in Ukraine. This last month flew by faster than the first! I continue to have new experiences every day.
For their "Pancake Day", we went to an open air museum, where they have brought in houses from different ancient villages throughout Ukraine. After walking around for a little while, we went into a very small cafe to eat some Blini (Ukrainian Pancakes), and warm up. It was still very cold here. After the cafe, we headed over to a little campfire, where some men had prepared a stew from Eastern Ukraine. They said it was a mix of Ukrainian Cuisine with other neighboring countries such as Romania, and it was VERY tasty! Then we tried some mulled wine, or Glintven. Basically, they heat up wine and add a bunch of spices to it. It is like the Ukrainian version of Apple Cider. I also had the opportunity to ride a horse, and sled while we were there. The sled was attached to a pole, and about 4 or 5 guys were kind enough to push me around in a circle until I couldn't hold on anymore!!
As usual, we've watched quite a few movies as well. Every Thursday, at school, we watch a Russian film, and then on the weekends, we sometimes go to the movie theater. I actually watched "The Lovely Bones" in Ukrainian, and understood quite a bit of it!
Things with the volleyball team here are going really well too. It is just a hobby for most of these women, but it has been a good way to connect with the local people here, and good conversational practice. One Saturday, there was an old coach at the game. He seemed like the Godfather, because everyone knew him and greeted him when they walked into the gym! Then, after the game, we all sat around a little table in the equipment closet with him and listened to his stories and his toasts. He had prepared a very common snack for us (bread with cheese and sausage on it), and we just sat and talked for quite a while. He made a ton of toasts, and for one of them, he recited his favorite poem. Before doing so, he said he would speak slower so that I could understand him :) It was a poem about how much he loves women, and very funny!
We also went to a soccer game already! That was a good experience! The fans here are all CRAZY! They are all drunk, loud, and like to yell at the refs, players, and each other! It was fairly cold that day, but it was fun to see. We are definitely going to the next game as well!
I've also built a fairly good relationship with my peer coach here at the school, and got the opportunity to hang out with her one weekend. I met her boyfriend and some friends, and we hung out together for a long time, mostly just talking and playing games. I ended up staying the night at her house last Friday!
Then, on Saturday, when I returned home, I found out that was was my host mom's birthday! She informed me that everyone would be arriving in about half an hour! She prepared a HUGE lunch for everyone. Her son and his fiancé, her daughter, and two of her friends from high school came over to eat lunch together. Vera, my host mom, made about six BIG serving dishes worth of food. Three main dishes and three different salads!! SO, needless to say, we are for a LONG time. I think we sat around her table for about two hours, just eating lunch, and every now and then someone would make a toast to Vera or her birthday. After lunch, she wanted to dance, so she turned up the radio, and her and her two friends danced away in the foyer! It was pretty amusing :) After the dancing, they cleaned up lunch, and we began to EAT again! This time we had Napoleon cake, a ton of fruit, and chocolate, along with tea and coffee! The last guest finally left around 8pm, and I rolled out of the kitchen! I don't think I've ever eaten that much!
Finally, last Monday was the 8th of March, and that is a HUGE holiday here! It is their National Day for Women, so they celebrate all women all day! We had a big party at the school on Friday evening, and then at my host family's house, we ate another HUGE lunch! Not quite as big as Saturday, but we still hung out around the table for a couple hours, including dessert and all again! Then later that evening I went out with some of my friends from the school to celebrate. I was definitely celebrated out on Tuesday, and have been recovering from the weekend the last few days!!
We are heading to Lvov this weekend to spend a day there. I've heard it is the prettiest city in Ukraine, but didn't get a chance to see a whole lot there last time, because I was sick, and looking forward to this trip!
Well, I hope this finds everyone doing well! I definitely miss everyone there, and hope that the rest of my time here goes by quickly, and at the same time, that I don't miss out on any opportunities.