Nothing exceptionally eventful has happened in the last couple of days. I suppose the highlight of my day today that give me a good giggle was the fact that I nearly got hit by a taxi when crossing the street. But the driver had the decency to wink and smile at me after he almost killed me.
On Monday night I invited an English girl over to Ulyana’s house for dinner. Ulyana wants to go to England and I thought it would be interesting for her to hear the difference in our accents. So I made calzone and an Italian salad (panzanella). Cooking here is a little bit nerve-wracking because everything is slightly different and the expectations are so high. I kind of over-promised about my cooking and I hope I didn’t under-deliver.
So the English girl’s name is Sophia. She got her degree at Cambridge and is now fixin (ha ha that’s funny that I’m talking about this impressive, sophisticated girl and I use a word like ‘fixin to’) get her Master’s there as well.
I decided to invite her over after our teacher relayed to us the terribly sad and pathetic story about how she broke down in tears in class one day because they were talking about food and Sophia hadn’t eaten in three days and was just super overwhelmed.
I’m remembering how at my school in Moscow I somehow earned the reputation as the student who was most well adjusted. So they would always send me new students and have me take them around and show them the ropes and introduce them to my Russian friends so that they could see that there are nice people in Moscow.
So dinner was fun. It was fun to be able to speak my language and have the Ukrainians have no idea what we were talking about. HA! Suckahs!!!
But I consider myself very lucky that my friends here only speak Ukrainian. Sophia’s one friend here speaks to her in Russian. In fact, I tried to convince my friends to speak Russian one night because I was so tired of straining to understand everything but they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it. I love it. As a linguist a lingua franca (around here it’s Russian) kind of depresses me. I live linguistic diversity. Especially here in Ukraine where the Ukrainians have to fight so hard to get the culture and language recognized as something separate from Russia and Poland. This has been the eternal struggle of the Ukrainians.
So dinner was fun. Although I’ve realized that I’m a bit of a slob in the kitchen. Ulyana was frantically trailing me cleaning up all of the crumbs and splats that flew about.
So now I’ll talk about some touristy things.
Everyone here is very religious. I love to stand near a church and watch people as the walk past. Everyone crosses themselves, even people passing by in the buses. The other day I watched a girl who was holding something in one hand and talking on the phone in the other. As she walked past the church she fumbled around with her phone, almost dropping it all so that she could cross herself.
Everything is super cheap here. To ride on the trolley it costs 1 hriva which is about 12 cents. I was spending about $6 dollars a day for food, transport and bottles of water. Sometimes less.
Today I went to lunch with Sophia and we got some Georgian dishes which included a chebureka(a type of fried scone with potatoes and mushrooms), a somasi(a puff pastry with meat and onions and cabbage and a slightly spicy tomato sauce) and khinkali (georgian dumpling with pork and sour cream) and a coke for 39 hriven, which is like $5. It was more than enough food for two people.
So now I’m kind of getting lazy because everything is so cheap, I’ve kind of started to splurge, which is something I don’t normally allow myself to do.
I took a taxi to church on Sunday for $6. I got invited to go to a wedding this Saturday. I was supposed to take the train to Kiev(which costs about $10) that night. But I’ve always wanted to attend a wedding here, so I decided I could afford to just fly. I bought my tickets today. I spent $170 and the flight takes an hour and a half. My Ukrainian friends were shocked, saying that that was so much money, but that’s about what I’d have to pay to get from Salt Lake City to Pheonix, and it’s worth it to get to go to the wedding.
One more thing that has impressed me about the culture here is a few very environmentally friendly things I’ve seen. Near every garbage can there is a special container for plastic. And people actually put their plastic stuff in there! In Moscow people can’t even be bothered to put their trash in a garbage can, let alone separate out the plastic.
This is the other invention that I literally stopped and marveled at in wonder. There’s just a glass cup in there and you pay like less than one cent and it pours water in the cup for you. You can even get some syrup in your water if you want. So this is just a communal cup for the whole city to use. I’ve seen multiple of these vending machines and I’ve seen multiple people take advantage of their services. You just put the cup back when your done. No washing, no wasting water, no waster plastic. Simple and inexpensive.