Friday, October 14, 2011

Oct 14th

The wind was cold and violent yesterday, and the trees were shaken so badly that they've lost most of their leaves. The landscape is starting to look a little bare and dull. Will Kharkov still be beautiful in the winter?

I've been reading the blog of a woman who lived in Kharkov in 2007 and her friends from Kiev mention how Soviet Kharkov's appearance is. Is that true? I guess I hadn't noticed, because so far this city has been everything I hoped for: parks, cafés, lots of monuments, museums, street markets, and more parks. And a zoo! Maybe I've been around so much Soviet architecture in other places that it's hard to notice now. I don't care if most people think Soviet-style buildings are ugly; I love them. Even хрущёвки- they make me think of community. *picture of хрущёвка coming soon* And one thing about Soviet city planners- they've got us Americans beat on parks! The parks here are awesome!

Yesterday was my long day, nine hours total. After a scant 4 hours of sleep (worked late the night before) I got up at 7:30 AM and headed out for my Business English classes. Something happened on the way to the metro that made me realize how incredibly difficult things would be if I didn't know Russian. I had to look for a place to make photo copies for class and found my usual xerox place closed. There wasn't much time and had I not been able to read the signs, it would have been a very stressful event. As it was, I simply looked for another ксерокс sign, found one on the outside of a building, and then read on the door that I would need to go downstairs and enter the third door. Piece of cake. But if I hadn't been able to read Russian so well..... it gives me a lot of respect for all my co-teachers who don't know any Russian or Ukrainian. Every single day must be quite a challenge to navigate. Especially because here in Ukraine, even if you learn one word, it doesn't mean that's the word you'll encounter next time. My usual xerox place had a closed sign on the door in Russian- закрыто, but I noticed that many other places used Ukrainian: зачинено.
закрыто and зачинено- do those words looks similar to you, other than the first 2 letters?

The metro was packed that morning. The crowd extended beyond the doors and moved verrrry slowly through the turnstiles. While getting shuffled along in the mob, I noticed that, haha, everyone here is taller than me! That doesn't surprise me about the women, since they all wear 4-inch heels....I'm so NOT joking..... but the men are taller than a lot of the guys back home. So girls, if you like tall men, come here! :P Anyways, it's very easy to transfer between lines and get across town now, and I'm very, very happy to be teaching these Business classes. They're a nice break (not that I don't love the regular classes, but variety is always welcome!), the students are great, the English is more relevant, and there's a little more freedom in how I can structure things. Our topic yesterday was résumés, which took me back to the days of teaching Job Readiness classes in Alaska. Both groups were wonderful, even my first group, the one that is sometimes a little sluggish and sleepy! One of my students gave me some chamomile tea that I'm excited to try. That totally made my day and I used it during my evening classes as a prop to teach everyone the word "chamomile". It's easy to remember in Russian: ромашка, because it sounds a lot like shirt- рубашка.

After class I met with Timur at Coffee Life for 2 hours. He kindly loaned one of his cell phones (I mentioned that everyone here has as many cell phones as a drug dealer, right?) for Denis to use. The cell phone situation in Ukraine is interesting. I'm no expert- only had a work cell in the US- so maybe someone (Ms. Spencer? :P ) can jump in with some comments here, but it seems to me that the system is very different. In the US, most people sign a fairly pricey long-term contract with a company to get cell service, and the company usually (but not always) throws in a phone for free. In Ukraine, you buy a phone from a kiosk and then buy a SIM card and phone cards from people or machines on the street. Timur and I went to buy a SIM card for the phone- it cost about $2 and we stood for a while, looking at the phone numbers, trying to pick one that would be easy to remember. I was shocked that you could pick out your own phone number here! How cool! And you don't have to sign a single contract or wait in line to talk with an official customer service rep! I periodically buy cards for my phone, usually the 35 or 50 grivna card (about $4-$6) and put more minutes on my phone. People have multiple phones because calls are free within each company's network, so you have one phone for Kyivstar, and another for Life :), or djuice, etc. I guess phones must not be that expensive? We'll see.....

I felt like I was coming down with something yesterday and I know all my friends here will say it's because I wasn't wearing a jacket. Maybe that's true. After my 4 hours of evening classes I chose to sit in on the class of another teacher, to get his take on things. I'm really glad I did this- picked up a lot of new ideas from him. But I did spend a good portion of the class just staring at his students, one of whom looked EXACTLY like Sarah Palin, and another student who was wearing 5-inch stilleto-heeled boots. They were truly incredible boots. During class that particular student expounded upon why it's important for women to have a lot of different shoes (in short, for men).

At 10 PM, when class finished, I {ahem} went back to Quick Charly's (Quick Charly's what, I don't know. Improper use of possessive apostrophes is awesome) for another шаурма.

Today I'm trying to rest to not get sick, lesson-planning (insert sarcastic yeah here!), and getting ready for D's arrival......tomorrow! He's taking a 12 hour flight to Frankfurt, spending 10 hours in the airport there, catching a 2 hour flight to Kiev, arriving at 1 AM, finding a taxi to the train station, hopefully getting tickets for the 6 AM express train (5 hours), and then arriving here in Kharkov mid-day. That means I've got lots to do, better get to it!

No comments:

Post a Comment