Saturday, March 3, 2012

Snapshots of Ukrainian Life, Part 8

Ah, Ukraine.
  • After returning home with groceries, I unwrap the cheese....and find wet cheese. "Dear boyfriend", I say, "there's something wrong with this cheese!" D just rolls his eyes. "It's fine", he replies. "They just do that so they can steal some cheese." Me: "What on Earth are you talking about?" Him: "When they cut up a block of cheese, the weights of the individual pieces must add up to the original weight of the block...." Me: "....ah, so if you want to steal some cheese, you soak it to add some extra water weight and then can keep a little for yourself!" 
  • Did you know it's considered bad luck to take out the garbage at night? 
The Euro 2012 logo. The red/white flower represents Poland, the blue/yellow flower represents Ukraine.
  • If you follow Ukraine news, you probably are aware of Euro 2012, the massive soccer (uh, football) tournament that is taking place in Kharkov, etc. this summer. If you don't follow the news, this will be the 14th European Championship for national football teams and will be hosted in Poland and Ukraine. The media has talked of practically nothing else for the past year (except politics, corruption, and food shortages/prices, of course). Ukraine expects Euro 2012 to bring a massive boost to its economy and world popularity and is planning on thousands upon thousands of tourists. Lots of students have volunteered to be involved (the city was looking for English-speaking volunteers). Several newspaper articles mentioned that psychologists will be on hand during the games to deal with football hooligans. Housing prices are expected to rise sharply here in Kharkov, that is, if you can even find a place to rent! Anyways, a co-teacher of mine hoped to get sponsored for a visa through a close friend of his and was turned down- the official said that because of the Euro 2012 madness, Ukrainians can only sponsor family for visas, not friends. Just a FYI to anyone looking for a long-term visa via that route.
  • One day I noticed that the tracks near the metro platform are suspiciously deep. According my students- if you somehow fall off the metro platform just as a train is about to arrive, you can lie down and let the train safely pass over you. I don't recommend trying this.
  • Okay, this one's not so much Ukrainian as Russian, but check out this incredible electronic musical instrument: the theremin! This YouTube video shows it being played by its inventor, a Russian guy named Leon Theremin who patented it back in 1928. If you like to learn about random bits of Russian culture and history, head over to
  • Kate is a Peace Corps Volunteer and a kind-hearted blogger teaching English to children in southwestern Ukraine. She's raising money to create a technology center in the school where she teaches. Check out her idea here. (Update: her project has been fully funded!)

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