Tuesday, September 12, 2017

No more blog, plenty more Ukraine

This blog is six years old... officially old enough to retire, haha. (But for real.)

Thank you very, very much for reading these past six years. Thank you to every person who ever sent an email or left a comment on a post! I hope that we'll keep in touch. :) There are still a few more posts in the works for this month, but I didn't want to make you read to the end to get the main idea of this post.

I swear I saw that same guy on the same bench 4 years ago, ha. (Sarzhin Yar, Kharkiv.)

My friend sent this picture from Kharkiv last week.

So much has changed in her life in the past few years. When we met, she was teaching for 40 uah/hour ($5 USD/hour, at that time) at a local English school. She lived near the sickle-and-hammer-covered Пролетарская (Proletariat) metro stop. She and her husband owned the kind of apartment I'd only seen in movies: a long hallway, a single room for each family, and a lone kitchen shared by the entire floor.

Now she has a beautiful roly-poly baby with chubby cheeks instead of the teaching job. The Пролетарская metro has been rechristened Индустриальная (Industrial). Not long after that, my friend and her husband were finally able to sell their one-room, shared-kitchen home and move into a place with more privacy and space for the baby. 

The picture she sent from her new place looks like the same old Sarzhin Yar that I remember, but of course it's not. My friend looks the same on Skype (except for the postpartum dark circles), but she's also clearly a new version of herself. However, when I look at Ukraine, it sometimes confuses me. Is it a new place now? Is it the same place? Is it a mixture of both? Oregon is just too far away. My husband and I keep in touch with everyone in Kharkiv, but I have less and less to say here about it these days.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great people exploring Ukraine right now. They all have a passion for Ukraine, they're all (more or less) in the country, and they're all enthusiastic about sharing it.

For example, take a look at an A to Z of Ukraine from Kathmandu and Beyond.

Follow along as Kate and Chris examine each of Kyiv's metro stops, starting with the Teatralna metro station.

If you are curious about Dnipro, subscribe to Lost Lara.

If you'd rather read about life in the capital, try The Wayfarer's Book or Al in Ukraine.

Prefer quieter places? Megan Starr, the grandmaster of inspiring travel adventures, just compiled 18 Awesome Places to Visit in Ukraine (That Are Not Kyiv or Lviv).

Concrete and Kitsch roam the world's crumbling, concrete ruins and detail their experience in articles like The Agony and the Ecstasy of the Soviet Hotel (in Ukraine).

Peter Santenello spent his summer living with a Ukrainian family, sharing stories on his YouTube channel.

Finally, the best place ever to ask questions and get advice about Ukraine is in Kami's Travel to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR group on Facebook.

Like my friend with her baby, I've had some new life events too. One fun milestone is that I've been working as a Russian-English translator for almost a year. I use the language more often now than I ever did in Kharkiv. I'm still not great, but I'm getting better at it. The language has become a bigger part of life, filling some pieces of my heart that were left behind in Kharkiv. At first it was just a way to stay connected to Ukraine, but it has since become its own plot point. Every weekday I wake up and check my inbox for new assignments. I can calculate time zone differences instantly. Twice a week, I skype with a pensioner in central Asia to practice speaking Russian. (You can sign up for that free program here, by the way.) And when not translating or proofreading, I write about the language here.

An illustrator friend in Kharkiv is helping with my first big language project: a book of themed word searches for students of Russian. When I told her the first theme was "Magical and Mythical Creatures", she drew this friendly little домовой. The details are perfect: the домовой is always hiding belongings (blame this guy when your keys go missing) and he could be the reason your cat is racing playfully around the room at midnight.
There are still a couple more posts I'd like to share here with you this September- some posts about Ukraine (and Ukrainian authors, fingers crossed!), some about other topics. And even when there will be no more 8 Months in Ukraine, there's plenty more Ukraine out there. The bloggers linked in this post are wonderful resources for all things Ukraine. Happy reading!


  1. I enjoyed reading your posts very much, thanks for everything :-)

  2. That's impressive--working as a translator. I appreciated your list of inexpensive Russian summer schools, and will try one next summer. Enjoyed your blog a lot.

    1. Russian summer school next summer? That's fun news!! :) I hope you'll write about the experience on your blog, Margaret. Wishing you many more safe travels!

  3. Great, Katherine! I am so glad to learn that you are closing this page of your life and moving on. For a while I thought you are lost in the past and cannot find your way forward. I even was blaming myself for that "get out" advise. I am also happy that the new chapter in your life is connected to your past. Good luck.

    1. Thank you very much, Sergey. You described it correctly: lost for a while, a body in one place and a heart in another. But yes, I've been trying to find a way forward, especially one that will help develop professional language skills. Who knows where that will lead?

      PS: Hope you're enjoying another beautiful New England fall!

  4. Thanks for all of the wonderful info about Ukraine over the years and good luck for the future! Thanks also for the shout out, cheers, Mark

    1. Spasibo, Mark! I'm loving your "Alternative Lviv" post. You really found some gems!

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  6. Your blog was my official guide while i was living in Kharkiv 2013-2014, it helped me immensely. I salute you for your valuable effort.