пʼятниця, вересня 30, 2005

'twas the night before Staging

"Dear me, there is nothing but meetings and partings in this world." So says L. M. Montgomery in one of the Anne books. That's a pretty good description of my life right now. I've spent the last few days saying goodbyes, and tomorrow I say my last ones and begin saying my hellos to the hundred-and-ten-ish people who will comprise my fellow PCVs. I'm sort of weepy, sort of excited, and sort of overwhelmed by the million little details that have to get done tonight.

Packing. Now that's a joy (note sarcastic tone). I'm under the allowed weight limits for the Peace Corps, but my bags still are mighty heavy. Mom and I went back through them once I packed and weeded out the non-essentials (chocolate chips, brown sugar, excess stationary, slippers, etc.), but there's still a lot of stuff. Until I realize that this "stuff" will comprise the sum and total of my worldly goods for a couple of years. And then it seems like much less...particularly as far as books are concerned. But I'm looking forward to simplifying my life, and "all will be well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well," to quote both Julian of Norwich and T. S. Eliot (I think).

Tomorrow I fly from Grand Rapids to Chicago, where my friend Lily, wonderful person that she is, will help me navigate the big, scary city and get to my hotel. Staging (PCV orientation) is tomorrow afternoon and all day Saturday, leaving the evenings free to hang out with my fellow PCVs. Sunday, we fly from Chicago to Frankfort, Germany, and then fly to Kyiv from there. If I get the chance to update at some point this weekend I will, but otherwise, you'll hear from me in Ukraine!

субота, вересня 24, 2005

Countdown: one week!!!

This time next week, I'll be in Chicago for Staging. Wow. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done...cleaning, packing, sorting, saying goodbye to people who mean a lot to me.

I find it funny that as I prepare to move to a less-developed country than the one I currently reside in, I am acquiring more technology than I previously owned. I now have a laptop (Dell Inspiron 1200, named Adella) and a digital camera (Samsung, named Samantha, a graduation/Christmas gift from my parents). Hopefully between these two items, I can keep you all quasi-regularly informed about my new adventures in words and pictures.

I'm currently looking at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport website. It amuses me that its URL is grr.org. This is because I say "grr" occasionally when frustrated. Looking through the list of items that I can take in my carryons and checked luggage, I am also amused by the thought of taking a meat cleaver or a cattle prod to Ukraine with me. But apparently I can, as long as they're in my checked luggage.

понеділок, вересня 12, 2005

What I have to look forward to...

Someone on the YahooGroup for Ukraine 29 (my group!) posted this list of humorous things about Ukraine/Peace Corps that a current volunteer wrote. It sounds like it will be an interesting time...


1. Don't be a Peace "Corpse."
2. Don't expect PC to tell you anything more than 10 minutes in
3. Keep all important documents tucked safely inside a body orifice
at ALL times.
4. Who needs the Internet? Babushkas are better. They spread news
faster than any modern modem connection (and sometimes viruses too).
5. Don't count on running water just because you see a faucet.
6. Walking 2 miles to teach class in pointy, high-heeled, "witch"
boots can feel empowering and good, especially when you get to take
the darn boots off! No wonder Ukrainians take their shoes off as
soon as they walk in the door.
7. You don't have to drink vodka, but you must participate in every
single toast. To family, to friends, to love, to the horses that
will drag you home...hooray!
8. Always always ALWAYS have toilet paper in your pocket.
9. You don't need to speak another language to communicate, just the
courage to dance around like a monkey.
10. Yes, even cabbage and potatoes can be the basis for a wide
variety of organic and delicious meals.
11. If you wonder why everybody is wearing grey, it's probably
because they do their laundry by hand.
12. Tight pants aren't a fashion statement. They are a way of life.
13. If you don't know somebody's name, just yell "Sasha!"
14. Don't be surprised if you find a dead pig in your kitchen.
15. A babushka can cut through anything with a dull knife... or a
pencil even.
16. The most important word at dinner is "Choot, choot" (a little
17. Don't assume your English class will understand anything you say.
18. People need tickets on public transportation, but live animals
don't. To get the best value for your money, bring as many live
pigs, chickens, or ducks on board as you can handle. Just think...
baby animals are an incredible bargain!
19. Modesty, privacy... huh? Just repeat after me: people walking in
on me in the bathroom is normal. The locks rarely function and the
best way for your host parent to teach you how to use your family's
shower is by demonstration, right?
20. If you get lost in Kiev Central Station, just repeat your final
destination over and over and tap your heels together 3 times.
Somebody will magically appear and help you get home.
21. Nope, it's not fog, and you're not tearing up because you're
homesick. It's the smoke from the burning leaf piles! Now we all
smell like walking campfires.
22. Cars (and people) can be swallowed entirely by the potholes
here, so don't smile as you walk. Just look down at the ground in
front of you. Your life depends on it.
23. What have furry tails, are warm, go "whimper," and have three
legs? Ukrainian strays!
What goes "rattle rattle" and tries to bite your head off? Ukrainian
pet dogs on chains.
What purrs, vomits on the carpet, and makes your pillow wet at
night? Ukrainian pet cats.
24. Mayonnaise and butter are the condiment gods of Ukraine. Don't
be surprised (or hesitant) about scraping the equivalent of an
entire stick of butter off your sandwich.
25. Elections in Ukraine make the US seem like heaven no matter who

The thing is, I grew up with dead pigs (and deer) on the dining room table when my dad butchered. So that, at least, shouldn't be too strange.

A little over two weeks in the US left. Wow.

пʼятниця, вересня 09, 2005

going vs. leaving

"It's not the going that's hard, it's the leaving," I've been telling people lately. I'm excited about being a PCV, eager to experience a new culture, ready to take this next step in my life. But at the same time, I'm going to have to go through a lot of goodbyes in the next three weeks, and some of those will be tough ones, people who mean a lot to me.

But the important people in my life have begun to scatter already. I have close friends in Texas, in Pennsylvania, and in Germany (not to mention everyone still in Michigan!). And the fact that I can't spend time with them whenever I want to doesn't mean that we aren't still close. That's rather comforting.

Also, I was reading a book of short essays by a former MSU professor's wife this week, and in one of them, she wrote about a move her family made that she wasn't overly excited about. The minister of her church told her, "You haven't met all the significant people in your life yet." When I read that, it hit me...neither have I. My fellow PCVs, my host families, the students I'll be teaching--all these people will help shape who I am, and some of them, I'm sure, will be people whom I grow close to. And that's really cool. Not that the relationships that I have now with people aren't important, but that there are new ones that I'll have the opportunity to make.

субота, вересня 03, 2005

Staging and a lot of computer nonsense

Well, I got my Staging Kit this week. (For those of you not as inundated with Peace Corps terminology as I have become, Staging is the three days in a US city--Chicago, in my case--where you meet everyone in your group and go through last minute paperwork stuff.) I fly out of Grand Rapids at 10:25 on the morning of the 30th and get to Chicago at 10:20 am. Off to a good start, I guess...I'll be there before I've even left!

Still on the prowl for a laptop. I've been doing a bit of shopping around, and it looks like I'm going to go with a Dell Inspiron 1200...I can type on it, check email (when Internet access is available), and play CDs or DVDs. It's within my price range, so hopefully I should be ordering it within the next week. I'll have to name it, of course...I wonder what Ukrainian-sounding name would be good.

And I definitely need a new computer, because it appears impossible to find a computer in any computer lab on the MSU campus that has audio and will play the language CD the PC gave me (my own computer not only has no audio, the mouse decided to give up the ghost lately, and therefore I have no working computer at home). So my Ukrainian is currently limited to "Dobry den" (good day), "nyet" (no), and "ti" (yes). This needs to change ASAP, as I would prefer to at least be able to exchange greetings with my host family when I meet them.