Travel Archive

  • While my body is constantly in America, my mind is often in Ukraine. And I’m not talking about memories. My outlook on life is so changed that I routinely act in manner more befitting a Ukrainian than an American.

    Slight Adjustments

    While my body is constantly in America, my mind is often in Ukraine. And I’m not talking about memories. My outlook on life is so changed that I routinely act in manner more befitting a Ukrainian than an American.

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  • I’d been warned about reverse culture shock. I’d been told it would be just as difficult to adjust to as the shock I felt my first weeks and months in Ukraine. But seeing is believing.

A week after I landed in Houston, I have already counted six people in their pajamas in public. I stare at them with an open mouth and judging eyes. Shaming them in the Ukrainian fashion. To be clear, I’m not talking about sweat pants. I mean legitimate nightwear: flannel fabric, patterned designs and drawstrings. After the high-fashion world of Ukraine, I find this appalling.

    Rediscovering America

    I’d been warned about reverse culture shock. I’d been told it would be just as difficult to adjust to as the shock I felt my first weeks and months in Ukraine. But seeing is believing. A week after I landed in Houston, I have already counted six people in their pajamas in public. I stare at them with an open mouth and judging eyes. Shaming them in the Ukrainian fashion. To be clear, I’m not talking about sweat pants. I mean legitimate nightwear: flannel fabric, patterned designs and drawstrings. After the high-fashion world of Ukraine, I find this appalling.

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  • Epiphanies occur in a host of places. In America, mine often came about in the shower. This is probably due to a habit I purposefully instilled from grade school. I know its cheesy but I’ve sort of always wanted to become a writer. When I was in elementary school, I remember reading an interview of a famous author who said she did her best thinking in the bathtub. I thought this was a great idea and started to sit in an empty bathtub, fully clothed to do my serious, grown-up 8-year-old-thinking. This matured into pensive showers, and I can trace many good ideas, stories or not, to soapy-lathers and pumice boards. I don’t think my pondering pattern would’ve changed had I not moved to Ukraine. I’ve been forced to find new sanctuaries in the past year, as a bucket bath is not nearly as conducive to contemplation as its cousin the shower. Lately my startling realizations have come in two far less sexy places: on the phone and in front of my laptop.

    A New Normalcy

    Epiphanies occur in a host of places. In America, mine often came about in the shower. This is probably due to a habit I purposefully instilled from grade school. I know its cheesy but I’ve sort of always wanted to become a writer. When I was in elementary school, I remember reading an interview of a famous author who said she did her best thinking in the bathtub. I thought this was a great idea and started to sit in an empty bathtub, fully clothed to do my serious, grown-up 8-year-old-thinking. This matured into pensive showers, and I can trace many good ideas, stories or not, to soapy-lathers and pumice boards. I don’t think my pondering pattern would’ve changed had I not moved to Ukraine. I’ve been forced to find new sanctuaries in the past year, as a bucket bath is not nearly as conducive to contemplation as its cousin the shower. Lately my startling realizations have come in two far less sexy places: on the phone and in front of my laptop.

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  • I’ve officially been in Ukraine for a year. In a way, it’s not hard to believe. Practically every time I met another volunteer the subject of time came up. “So […]

    The Year of Borshch

    I’ve officially been in Ukraine for a year. In a way, it’s not hard to believe. Practically every time I met another volunteer the subject of time came up. “So […]

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  • In Ukraine, I wear a lot of hats. And not just in winter. I’m an English teacher, an American culture expert, a Mexican food chef, a basketball coach, a yoga instructor, a journalist, a travel agent, and a decent day laborer.  I’m also a novice economist.

    When time isn't money

    In Ukraine, I wear a lot of hats. And not just in winter. I’m an English teacher, an American culture expert, a Mexican food chef, a basketball coach, a yoga instructor, a journalist, a travel agent, and a decent day laborer. I’m also a novice economist.

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  • I made a pact with myself when school started. I was going to run everyday during September. I’ve always been good at daily exercising, but I’ve never had to do it on my own before. It’s a lot easier when you have a team or a gym waiting for you. Hitting up the local soccer stadium where more people are smoking cigarettes than burning up the track is less than inviting. But people are surprisingly friendly there.

    Running Into New Friends

    I made a pact with myself when school started. I was going to run everyday during September. I’ve always been good at daily exercising, but I’ve never had to do it on my own before. It’s a lot easier when you have a team or a gym waiting for you. Hitting up the local soccer stadium where more people are smoking cigarettes than burning up the track is less than inviting. But people are surprisingly friendly there.

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  • This is my moment of zen. I hesitated to share it with you. In a culture as public and communal as Ukraine, I get territorial about my precious private moments. I took this photo on the coast of the Black Sea, after the rest of my party departed for a nap. It was pretty bold of me to stay behind.

    Sweet Solitude

    This is my moment of zen. I hesitated to share it with you. In a culture as public and communal as Ukraine, I get territorial about my precious private moments. I took this photo on the coast of the Black Sea, after the rest of my party departed for a nap. It was pretty bold of me to stay behind.

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  • I'm fond of saying that I've learned a lot in my short time in Peace Corps Ukraine. And one of the more tangible things is a proverb: краше пізно ніж ніколі. It means

    Grapes have seeds and other revelations

    I'm fond of saying that I've learned a lot in my short time in Peace Corps Ukraine. And one of the more tangible things is a proverb: краше пізно ніж ніколі. It means "better late than never."

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  • I'm really not that American who travels abroad and eats at McDonalds.  OK, up until my trip to Prague last week, that was a true statement.

    Would you like fries with that?

    I'm really not that American who travels abroad and eats at McDonalds. OK, up until my trip to Prague last week, that was a true statement.

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  • A frosty wind isn't the only thing in the air in Western Ukraine right now. Flu season is in full-force, causing many schools to be

    Quarantine-Induced Musings…

    A frosty wind isn't the only thing in the air in Western Ukraine right now. Flu season is in full-force, causing many schools to be "quarantined" indefinitely.

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