Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spring and Summer- The Most Heart-Warming of the Seasons

I'm back internet, and since I haven't posted since March there's a lot to tell. I'll stick to the highlights.

In March a crew of fellow Peace Corps ladies and I traveled to the oh-so-luxurious resort town Truskavets for three full days of pampering at Villa Hyzhyna Spa. The room was awesome but the steam room was better! This place was seriously a hidden gem.

During April I travelled with my pals Niko and Emily for an epically weird weekend in Chernivtsi, a cool town near the Romanian boarder. The most interesting thing to see there is Chernivtsi University, which could be an understudy for Hogwarts. However, the most memorable moment of this trip was when our 50-something British hostel owner threw a major temper tantrum because we didn't get into the disco. He proceeded to spend the next hour or so telling us how we had "bastardized him." Goodness, some people's kids...

Our oblast day camp was also held in April. Around the World in a Day Camp invited about 60 students from the area to learn about world cultures. I talked about Nicaragua and handled a lot of the logistics. A good time was had by all : )
In May I turned 25, went to Turkey with Alei and Katelin , and finished my second school year in Ukraine. Not too shabby.

June and July were all about summer camps and hanging out with Anya and her grandsons. Then came August. I climbed in the Carpathian Mountains, camped on the beach in Crimea for an incredible week (dolphins swam up close to the shore almost every day!), and attended my COS (Close of Service) conference where I got to see all of my friends from training! Action packed to say the least.
And now it's September and the school year is in full swing. Only eight more weeks of teaching to go!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fast Flying February

February absolutely flew by! I traveled every weekend but the last, and got back into the groove of teaching. It's hard to even remember what I did all of February. The goal was really just to get through that oh so pleasant of winter months.

One weekend I helped out at a seminar for teachers that my friend Julia planned. The next my oblast (like a state) had a meeting to plan an event that I seriously can't wait for. We are having a day-long Around the World event for students. I am planning the opening activity and coordinating logistics. The third weekend I spent at my friend Little Ira's birthday party, and visiting with friends in a village called Shargarod.

March has officially started with a bang. I attended my first party for teachers. We were celebrating the 8th of March, International Women's Day (which happens to be today so Happy Women's Day to all you awesome ladies). There was a HUGE table overflowing with food and drink, and a dance floor full of teachers. I was at the party from 2:30pm until 9pm and there were no signs that it was stopping anytime soon. I feel much closer to the people I work with now. Getting to see each other cut loose a bit always helps.

Because of this holiday I'm on the fourth day of my weekend now. I spent Saturday at Simon's birthday party. I had never met him before, but us American's have to stick together over here. It was great to get to know some new people, and the sloppy joes were nothing to sneeze at.
The next day I met up with my traveling buddies (Alei, Katelin, Becky, and Kacey). Our mission- check two of The Seven Wonders of Ukraine off our lists! We went first to a little town called Hotine. We stayed with one of the older volunteers named Janet and her friend Meegan, then in the morning went over to see an AWESOME fortress. I was told that it was where French taunting scene in Monty Python was filmed, but that is in no way accurate I'm disappointed to say. It was so cold, but we were just about the only people there, and it was really easy to imagine life there back in the old days. They haven't made the fortress all touristy and I hope they don't start.
Next we went to Kaminets Podillsky to see their even larger fortress. It was great to walk around in, but the highlight for me was getting to shoot a cross-bow!!! Overall it was a great trip.

In a week and a half I have my spring break!! I am going with my traveling buddies to the Carpathian mountains. We will spend three nights at a spa for about $70 each. You can't beat that. Here's some info about the spa. We were sold when we saw the indoor pool and hot tub.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Back to Ukraine- Back to Business

My trip to America seems like a blur now! Three food, friend and family filled weeks came to an end on January 5th. Here are the highlights...
My time started out with a hellatious two days of travel, but it was all forgotten when I got to hug my mama at the airport in Grand Rapids. I ate my first meal at TACO BELL!! The next morning I woke up at 6am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed... so not like me. My mom and I went to work at Sweetwater Market. It's always fun to see how her products are coming along. Everything looked so professional and she had a lot of repeat clients!! I'm so proud of her for perusing her business!

My sister got home a couple days later. Paul and I went to pick her up from the airport. From there we had a whirlwind three family Christmases. Every one was as special as the last : ) I don't think of myself as a very traditional person but I really enjoyed all the family pastimes this year; making cocoa on Christmas morning, having dinner with Paul and family on Christmas Eve, and conversating with the Snyder clan the day after Christmas. We also celebrated my grandparent's 60th Wedding Anniversary! I can't imagine 60 years period, let alone together with one person. It's a beautiful thing.

I got to see so many friends too!!! Shauna and Jenni were back from California for a while. I saw Matt almost everyday. Scotty Cornbread and Dan K. drove down from Traverse City to spend an afternoon in Grand Haven, and New Years Eve was a friend bonanza!! We had a bathrobe themed party in East Lansing. Sasha, Laura, Mal, Lindsay, Rambow, and so many other awesome people were there to ring in the new year. If it's true that you'll spend your year the way you celebrated NYE I know I'll have a fantastic 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

T-3 Days to the Airport

Time is crawling by as I wait to leave for my three week vacation to America. Yesterday I went Christmas shopping in Xmelnytsky, so that helped pass the day. I got a lot of awesome little treats for my people back home. I still need to find a few other gifts, but I'll be doing that in Kyiv while I'm waiting to go to the airport. To kill the time I have been listening to a lot of music. Here is a link to a Rodrigo Y Gabriela video. They are two Mexican guitarists who play the most incredible music you've ever heard. That has been the happy soundtrack to the last seven days of my life. Now I'm off to teach the third graders : )

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wrote a Poem

So I've been really into making up words lately. This is something that has come out of that phase.

Badldy Business

Tridldida and Trodldidu
hadldy badldy business to do.
They widldy didldy out to the street
and kabudldy Stadldy down to
his knees.

"I lidldy vidldy! Don't vodldy lu!
I have a zibzda to midldy ru!"

"We kudldy less you
fodlry ku!"
And they shmudldy Stadldy
three times in the shklu.

The hudlie ran red with his
ctadldymu as he tidldy,
"Fadldy tedldy, zimzamza bu!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fall turns to Winter

I haven't posted in a long while, and a lot has happened. First of all, I will be traveling to Michigan for Christmas and New Years in nine days!!! I can't wait to get home, even for a little while.

October ended with a bang- Spalloween. My friend Becky hosted a girls weekend for Halloween. We ate delicious food, painted our nails, did face masks, and watched Hocus Pocus. It was a wonderful and relaxing few days.

November was LONG! The change of seasons dragged me down a little bit. It is now getting dark at around 5pm, and the streets are covered with ice. A visit from my friend Lauren helped to lift my spirits, however (pictured above in our awesome hats). Here are the hilights of her trip; hung out with Totya Anya at my house, went to the disco and met some fun Ukrainians we nicknamed Charlie Brown and Uncle Fester, stayed in Lviv for two days, drank beer at two underground pubs, spent the day in Kyiv, ate awesome food, said goodbye : ( It's funny how some friendships just pick up where they left off no matter how long it has been since you've seen each other. I have no doubt in my mind that Lauren will be one of my bestest best friends for ever and ever.

December brought Thanksgiving oddly enough. This past weekend my site mate Becky and I hosted ten volunteers for an all out feast! (If there is one thing I've mastered here it is the art of the feast.) We had American classics like cranberry sauce in a can, green bean casserole, stovetop stuffing, and pumpkin pie which were sent to us by our fabulous friends and families back home. The centerpiece to it all was a ducken. You heard right- ducken. We stuffed a duck with a chicken and it was delicious! We hadn't set out to do this, it just felt right in the moment.

That's about all for now. As the Ukrainians say, I'm sitting on my suitcase. Counting down the days to my visit home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween Party with the Kiddos

On the docket-
-bobbing for apples
-mummy wrapping game
-singing songs and telling stories
-pumpkin carvings