September 28, 2010
I’ve been in Ukraine for a week now, but I must admit that it feels so much longer. My “old” life in the U.S. feels like eons ago. I’m sure a good part of that is just environmental shock and the fact that our days are so long and stressful that each day feels like 2 or 3. But at dinner tonight, I spoke the most Russian since I’ve been here, so I guess that’s a small victory. It helped that the language lesson today was about food and how to say what I like and don’t like, so I just practiced those phrases. The host mom speaks some English (she probably speaks more English than I’ll speak Russian by the time I leave here) so I use a mix of English and Russian and slowly try to add more Russian as I increase my vocab.
We’ve been observing several Ukrainian classes and it’s been interesting to see how they compare to classes in the United States. Ukrainian teachers are much stricter than American teachers, and as a result, the class is much better behaved and focused than some classes in American schools. The teachers here don’t praise (some might say coddle) their students nearly as much as American teachers do, and that’s something that we’ve all noticed and comment on at every observation. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve been in an American classroom, but the students here seem much more focused and serious about their studies. They also dress very nicely for school. I think I’ve seen two students in the past week wearing jeans, and I haven’t seen anyone in a t-shirt. A lot of the boys wear suits, and the girls wear a mix of dresses and pants. Wonder if it will be more pants as the weather gets cold.
The animal situation is just so different here than what I’m used to at home. There are a ton of stray dogs on the street, but they don’t look horrible or incredibly dirty. If you put your hand out as if you have food or want to pet them, they will come up and gnaw on your hand so I’m not doing that anymore. I repeat to myself daily that these dogs are not a substitute for Sadie. And since Sadie is a princess, she wouldn’t want me to have a substitute for her anyway.
In other news, I finally was able to successfully ask the host mom if she has a hair dryer so I’ve been able to dry my hair in the morning. I know, it’s a little thing and a slightly vain one at that, but I feel better starting each day looking at least a little bit like I would in the States.