Thursday, December 27, 2012

Odessa at 21 degrees F

Holy Trinity Cathedral
 Yet again we ended up in Odessa thanks to someone's generosity. This time credit goes to D's work. While my company offers pay-your-own-way corporate parties at local restaurants, D's employers lavishly splurged on train tickets and lodging so that everyone could visit Odessa for one massive blow-out party.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Very Champagne Christmas is Coming

The holidays are coming and that means drinking.

Well, to be honest, almost any season in Ukraine means drinking, but the festivity, bustle, and camaraderie surrounding the holidays cause many people to go above and beyond the average call of duty.

The supermarket has an overflow of champagne bottles already. They've been tossed in giant bins, displayed next to enticing sale prices. There's even a brand sold in a blank bottle with a pen so that you can draw on your own design and slogan. Next to the champagne, the hard alcohol gift sets are on display. Gift sets range from the pricey honey pepper vodka + shotglasses or Baileys + shotglasses to the ceramic-pistol-filled-with-vodka for 95 uah.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Victory Square in the snow

Unlike Kiev and its poor denizens (Kiev buried under snow), here in Kharkov we just had our first notable snowfall. Roofs are now a stark white and sidewalks are a dirty grey. The tireless metro ladies are constantly stooped over, sweeping the icy steps of the entrance clear with their little bundles of straw. The snow continues to flirt with us, either coyly lurking in the clouds or flitting down for short periods.

Last night we strolled through Victory Park. Except for two other young couples, the park was deserted. Only footprints in the snow proved that we were still downtown.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Площа Повстання 2: Winter Fashion, the Yeast Factory, and more

Welcome to Yakira Street

It's -6 C at the moment (21 F) and the weather forecast is predicting snow for the rest of this week. The small children of Kharkov have been parading around in snowsuits for almost two months and now the rest of us are beginning to follow suit. Tall heeled boots and шубы (fur coats) are everywhere, as are fur hats the actual size of beavers!
Waiting for the tram
Probably the slowest but cheapest form of transportation in town

Undaunted (but bundled up), we recently went on a lengthy exploration of Yakira steet. Perhaps it's just the time of year, but this part of town seems almost untouched by 2012. It feels more like the 1970s. Take a look-

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Площа Повстання 1: The Horse Market

Welcome to Kharkov's Конный рынок (Horse market)!

You're at least 100 years too late to actually buy a horse here, but there are still plenty of other things for sale.

We discovered this place

Saturday, December 8, 2012

8 months in Ukraine, revisited

I don't know how this has happened, but another 8 months have flown by after making that phone call back in March... bringing us to a grand total of 16 months in Ukraine.


That sounds so long! Almost enough time to get an associates degree or have two babies! But I'm glad I chose Ukraine for this period of time instead of more education or starting a family. I think it will prove just as rewarding in the long run.

The past 8 months have been very different from the previous 8. Remember Кто не рискует, тот не пьет шампанское from June? Since then I've been trying a ton of new things. 
This summer I did a weekly English Game Night with another teacher.

Blogging, as you can probably tell, has become more than just a hobby. It's become a lifestyle and I love it.

I started volunteering with a local social service agency this fall, offering English to its employees weekly and hanging out with the children once or twice a month.

D and I have begun work on a website to help others learn Russian. We started from scratch but it's coming along pretty well. Just have a couple more things to do before it's ready to be shared with all of you!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Care Package

Reading a lot of blogs about life in Ukraine means reading a lot of Peace Corps volunteer blogs. Reading a lot of PCV blogs means reading again and again about one of the best things that can happen to you while living abroad: getting a care package.

What does it feel like, I thought to myself, to get a box full of good stuff from home? Rebecca in England has dropped several cards in the mail, Macedonian-American Vesna occasionally sends handmade crafts, but so far no one had sent us a grab-bag of Americana, the kind of stuff that makes you a little homesick.

Then my boss called me on Sunday with excitement in her voice. "Katherine!!" she whispered, "you've got mail! A big envelope!" and with that, my first care package had arrived : )
minus the cat, of course

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ват из ит, Pepsi version

Pepsi's new ad campaign in Ukraine: half real Ukrainian, half English words written in Ukrainian.
"Sharing (шерiнг) was always sharing, Pepsi Cola is with me"
"A street party (стрiтпатi) was always a street party, Pepsi Cola is with me"

Pizza Колдун

There's a little restaurant near the train station that I like to visit every so often- Pizza Колдун.

Here you'll find a tiny two-room joint squeezed in between a beauty shop and a meat market. They serve piping hot pizzas to the tune of 50-60 uah a pop. I like the atmosphere and the design. Unfortunately the mood is sometimes ruined by a heavy cloud of cigarette smoke. Please, please Ukraine- pass/enforce an anti-indoor-smoking law! Done! But... people still smoke in there :p

Sick of pizza? There are plenty of other places to eat near the Kharkov train station. Try: