Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1st

This morning I made a “Russian” breakfast for my roommates- gretchka, pickled mushrooms, and fresh cucumber. There are many interesting products here in Ukraine; for example, the ketchup in this picture is actually garlic-flavored ketchup. Another example- on the metro today I saw an ad for mojito-flavored yogurt, imagine that!

We left early for the school today because we'd been assigned a ton of lesson prep and no one had time to do it the night before.

Check out this metro ad:
This is an ad for a local business English school. A special kind of school, apparently, according to the pics :p
There was a quick moment of panic when I accidentally got on the wrong train and got separated from my roommates, but I was able to figure it out...thanks to my cell phone. So yes, I finally have a cell phone, except I'm still not using it. That's my goal for next week.

Even though we got to school with an extra hour to spare, I only spent 5 minutes of it checking email before having to start prep. Unfortunately a really bad cold started to show up during that time and it dogged me for the rest of the day. Since home is over an hour away from the school, I tried to make an ATM withdrawal to get cash for the drug store...and the ATM wasn't working. Another teacher spotted me some cash... and the drug store was closed. Just one of those days!

The training was more interesting and relevant today after observing the four hours of classes last night. We all were assigned a lesson to teach for tonight, either 40 minutes of grammar or 30 minutes of conversation. I ended up with an hour of conversation, a full class. I didn't mind at all- it just took some extra prep time. I think a lot of the other teachers were really nervous, especially those who have never stood in front of a class before, but I've been through so many classroom scenarios (teachers of the Koran from Somalia, illiterate Bhutanese farmers, university students from the middle east, Iraqi schoolteachers, Russian kids & teenagers & elderly, hospitality workers in Nicaragua, lawyers from the Congo, etc) that nothing can shake my confidence. I had a really good time teaching and got so absorbed I forgot the cold for an entire blessed hour. I then got to observe another trainee teach grammar and ended the evening observing another class. The night ended again at 10 PM.

Both last night and tonight there were loud public demonstrations going on to protest the imprisonment of Timoshenko. I'm not going to get into that now, but man, they're loud! One of the trainers told me that it reminds her of the Orange Revolution.

We are at the Ukrainian cafeteria again tonight and I'm 3 for 3; third day in Ukraine, third bowl of soup (Denis, your dad would be proud of me!) I wanted to have Ukrainian borsch today but had to settled for gretchka soup. Haha, that means both my meals today consisted of gretchka! I don't plan to eat out constantly, but there's really no choice in this city. It takes so long to commute to school, there's no easy access to tupperware, and grocery shopping here is very different anyways. No more Costco or buying stuff in bulk....instead I have to go every 2-3 days to buy for the next 2-3 days, including a big jug of water to drink.

While walking with Cowboy to school today, we passed a fruit seller. Cowboy has been after some good fruit after getting a rotten peach at the grocery store, so we stopped to buy some apples. I kind of 'advised' Cowboy on what to say (he's starting Russian from zero) and the fruit seller assumed I was his Ukrainian translator! I was happy to have “passed” the speaking and appearance test. It makes me feel like I have made progress in understanding the local culture and language.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a day off, but we've been summoned to have a policy meeting with the school director. I hope it's nothing bad about the visa situation...

Some extra pictures:
Check out the part about the diplomas....looks like I have a back-up job if teaching fails :p
Roommates trying to open a bag of milk. Yes, milk in a bag.
At our nearest metro station!
An elementary school. Sept 1 was the first day of school for kids here, hence the welcome sign in the window.

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