Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Art of City, City of Art

Kharkov has been gloomy lately. A heavy fog slowly erases the city, brick by brick.

regular day

Yesterday I went out in search of color...

...and found it!
Welcome to Art of City.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

It snowed on Saturday night! Does that mean that it's okay to start thinking about Christmas? True to tradition, I've already started putting out the decorations.

Thank you, смайлмаркет, for your cheap imported goods!

Christmas is still pretty far off if you want to celebrate it like a local. The winter holidays here start on New Year's Eve (check out last year's celebrations!), then Christmas falls on January 7th and Old New Year wraps up the season on January 14th. As for December 25th, well, that's just another work day. After the crushing disappointment of having to take finals on December 25th in Siberia I never again expected anything special on that particular day. Hearing a simple "Merry Christmas" from a thoughtful student is about as exciting as it can get.

Dear readers, do you have any special holiday plans? Are you planning to travel? D's company is having a big party in Odessa at the end of next month. We're planning to hop on the train and attend. It's a costume party, though, and I have no ideas. The last time we wore costumes in Ukraine we failed miserably. So, remaining costume ideas: Blackmail. A shot in the dark. ???? Please advise!

In the meantime-
кит doesn't appear to be too excited about the holiday season, probably because he's on Santa's naughty list

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving thanks по-украински

With a couple of minor modifications, it's fairly easy to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast in Ukraine!

Step 1: Instead of battling the crowds for that last box of stuffing on Wednesday night, you can relax and head to the grocery store two hours before your guests arrive. This will, of course, be on Friday night since Thursday is a regular work day (or night, in my case).

Step 2: Rumors of turkeys are everywhere but the actual bird is much harder to find, so just pick up some roasted chicken. Roasted chicken also has the benefit of being fairly cheap- 25 uah ($3 US) per bird. In fact, the total grocery bill was under $50... for 7 people!

Step 3: Since Ukrainians are excellent cooks, be sure to take others up on their offers to bring a salad/side dish/pie. You won't regret it. Also, if you know any, Peace Corps Volunteers have access to highly-sought-after goods from abroad like gravy mix packets.
homemade pumpkin pie

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gone but Not Forgotten

One of my favourite things about living in Ukraine is catching a glimpse of the footprints of the past.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Mythical Dream Job and Moving On

I need to find an English school for tomorrow. I need a new dream.
Everyone that I started with is gone. They've drifted away, gone home, moved on. One guy is managing an AmeriCorps team in Florida. Another left to teach for a youth camp in France. The American woman returned to the US to study psychology and Russian, and began dating a new man. The Ukrainian testing director politely resigned to take care of her newborn baby. Two friends got fired. Another colleague just dropped off the face of the planet without a word to anyone. I guess these are the usual happy endings at your average ESL school.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

That's not right

I've always been suspicious of those open containers of bulk goods in the supermarket. Rice, flour, sugar, cookies, gretchka, all just sitting uncovered in a big box, waiting for a consumer to scoop some up in a bag, weigh it, slap on a price tag, and take it home. How do you stop dirt and icky things from getting in? I mean, I've seen birds flying around in the supermarket! What if they snack on the food or, worse, begin aerial bombardment?

And then, the remodel started.
Now I definitely don't trust the uncovered bulk products.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Studying Spanish in Kharkov

What do you think about studying a foreign language?
How about studying two? 
What about living in one foreign country and studying another foreign language that's not even spoken in that country?


Sunday, November 4, 2012


I'd been planning to do some sightseeing this weekend with a classmate but was instead waylaid by a cold. I guess I'll be a good blogger and catch up with another ongoing topic- food!


All over Kharkov you'll find little kiosks with the кулиничи sign. Usually there will be a small crowd inside: hungry students standing at the counter while they finish their lunch-on-the-run, morose men nursing cups of coffee, office workers buying bread on their way home. These кулиничи kiosks are on practically every street corner. Start walking in any direction- by the time you lose sight of the closest kiosk, another one will have appeared. I spent last winter addicted to their chocolate frosted cookies; it would have been easier to resist if I didn't have to walk by their display windows every day on the way home :p
We stop at кулиничи often to buy bread and sweets but don't eat there much, as there's just standing room and the menu is limited to bread-based goods. (Exception: bought a pizza and desert thingy to snack on in the forest last fall.) There is more of a cafe on Pushkinska Street with real seating. The front is another buy-to-go kiosk (across the street from Pizza Felice) but if you walk behind the building, you'll discover an actual sit-down place that offers inexpensive ciabatta sandwiches and soups.

Кулиничи, it turns out, is a local bread factory located in Kharkov's outskirts. Despite only having been around since 1995, their website claims that more than 200,000 people buy their products daily.

Час поїсти

Next up, one of my fav kinds of restaurants- the столовая! This local cafeteria, час поїсти, is clean, upscale, and next to the Pushkinska metro station. I've even been able to sneak in here to use the restrooms, which is a huge coup here in Ukraine.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where are all the Ukrainian scientists?

This is metro station Наукова.

Наукова is Ukrainian for research and this station pays tribute to the best of the best.