Saturday, November 30, 2013


     Recently I went to Ukraine for the first time, to see Katie. She is teaching at a university in Cherkasy as a Fulbright Scholar. I flew into Kiev and the next night we went to Cherkasy, which is three hours by bus from Kiev and located on the Dnieper river.
     But first thing's first. We got some Ukrainian borsch (a beet-based soup) at a place in Kiev called The Black Pig. It was delicious. We also ate great Ukranian dumplings, called vereniki.

     Then we visited St. Mikhailovsky monastery. We didn't get to St. Sophia this time, because it was closed the day we were there. But next time we will certainly go. 

     We walked around the city and stopped at a place to get blini. Blini are very thin pancakes made from buckwheat flour. They are very similar to crepes and even tastier. I got one filled with mushrooms and one with apricot jam. 

Eating my blini with an elderly Ukranian lady
     After going to the Fulbright office to listen to Katie's friends give a presentation, we took the bus to Cherkasy. Katie lives with a married Russian couple who don't speak English, so it's very good practice for her. Also, her room is enormous. Another plus is that the mom makes great food! I had several servings of her borsch. I really hope Katie learns how to prepare it.

     We visited the university where Katie teaches and I sat in on a couple of her classes. She mainly teaches fourth year students, and their English is excellent. Katie cooked some buckwheat with mushrooms and chicken for dinner and I decided I really liked buckwheat—so wholesome, so diverse.
     On Saturday we went to the market, which sells clothes, food, plants, etc. It's huge and pretty cheap. We bought some fruit and spices. 

     This was not a touristy trip. It was very relaxing, we ate good food and I got to see where Katie lives and works. It's a fantastic experience for her and she is a really good teacher. There are barely any native English speakers in Cherkasy, and not very many expats, which makes communication frustrating at times. But I think in the end it is very enjoyable and beneficial—and who wants to be comfortable all the time anyway? One of the best ascpects about living abroad is the distinct absence of complacency, replaced by the constant need to improve and learn how to adapt to a different culture and succeed in a foreign country.

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