Monday, April 25, 2011

Ukraine?

When I tell people that I will be spending two months of my summer in Kiev, Ukraine the responses have been everything from confusing to humorous. Some of the most common reactions have been:
  • Where exactly is Ukraine?
  • Is that in Russia?
  • Which IU program is that with?
  • How many credit hours is your program?
  • You don't even speak Ukrainian!
  • Where will you live?
  • Oh, the same place you went two summers ago?
  • Are you going on summer project? (Cru friends)
Just to list a few...
So where to begin? At the end of last semester my plan was still to march another summer of Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps.  Life seemed to be pointing me in that direction, but I also had submitted an application to the Critical Language Scholarship program in Russia.  During Christmas break, I went to see a specialist about my broken pelvis(my lovely drum corps injury from summer 2010) only to see an x-ray of a still broken, inflamed, and generally unfortunate-looking pelvis situation and was faced with making a decision between risking another summer of pain and hating my life just to march or dropping out and finding another adventure for the summer. I chose the latter and when my CLS application was denied, my plan was to do SWSEEL and live it up in B-town for the summer.  I even had an adorable apartment on Kirkwood to sublet :)
Yet life had another interesting turn of events for me! I wanted a program that was full immersion, instead of the partial immersion that I would have in SWSEEL.  I feel that my Russian is at a point where I really just need constant exposure and application. I found out about a program with Russian language schools in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga, and yes, Kiev, Ukraine.  "So why not?" I thought.  I've never been to Ukraine and it seemed like a fun and fantastic adventure. As an added bonus, Americans don't need a visa to travel to Ukraine, making my life a bit easier. So from June 11th until August 6th I will be on a Ukrainian adventure. My class time will be 20 hours/week at the Kiev Novamova Russian language school with students from all over the world.  This is something I'm really excited about! The fact that my classmates and I may not share English as a common language will force me to speak Russian.  My goal is to speak only Russian while I am in Ukraine this summer, unless some sort of emergency situation requires me to use English.  In addition to going to school, I opted to live in a host family situation.  My host mom, Maria Ivanovna Kuznetsova, is a retired widow living on her own.  This in it self will be a new experience for me.  I've grown up with a big family (1 of 6 kids with numerous exchange student siblings throughout the years) and am now suddenly going to be an only child for 8 weeks.  This actually isn't too weird considering I've been living on my own with just one roommate since August, but still it's not quite the same.  While I was in Kazan I joined a family of four, so that definitely had a family feel to it, especially when we were all together in the flat or the dacha. I'm thinking this will give me a bit more freedom, though, to hang out with my classmates and other people I meet without feeling like I need to come home and spend time with the family. Apparently she is a retired cook and makes some delicious food, so that is rather exciting.  Hopefully not too delicious though, as I don't want to come back from the Ukraine with a few extra kilos of body mass. 
There are a couple of other factors about going to Ukraine that are crazy exciting for me.  First, my darling host sister, Ksusha, will be at summer camp in Southern Ukraine this summer.  It will be a bit of a train ride, but my hope is that I will be able to travel down to Crimea to see her while we are both in Ukraine.  This summer will be almost two years since we were last together and I miss her a bunch! Another exciting thing is that I'm going to be able to go to church while I'm in Kiev! When I was in Russia I went to visit churches and see them in a touristy kind of way, but never actually attended a service.  There is a Lutheran mission in Ukraine called Thoughts of Faith and a church I can attend in Kiev.  Also, just a few metro stops from my host mom's apartment is the main office of Украина для Христа (Ukraine for Christ), the Campus Crusade for Christ mission in Ukraine.  Not only will these be great ways for me to meet people in Ukraine, but one of my goals is to meet Ukrainian Christians this summer and just talk with them about loving Jesus :) I would also really like to be able to have a gospel conversation with an unbelieving Ukrainian in Russian and will be praying specifically for such opportunities to arise during my time in Kiev.  
Oh, so about some of those reactions to my adventure that I have left unanswered. First of all, Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe to the southwest of Russia, with the Black Sea on its southern border(Not the same place I went two summers ago, as that was in Russia). As you may have gathered from what I wrote earlier, it's not an IU program, but I'm going to be cramming my head full of Russian none the less. True, I don't speak Ukrainian, but thankfully, Ukraine is filled with Russian speakers, especially in the east, south, and big cities (like Kiev!). I'm thinking I'll pick up a little Ukrainian while I am there, which is also perfectly fine with me and a nice addition to my Slavic knowledge. 
I suppose that's pretty much it! One long blog post later we have the basics of what this summer excursion is all about.  47 days until I leave!
всего хорошего!
Chelsea

So what is this all about?

A few years ago I kept a blog pretty regularly and then just, well, stopped for no good reason.  With the summer quickly approaching (yay!) my friends and I have realized how sad and disconnected from each others' lives we will be. Chelsea is going to Rwanda, Ivana is going to Spain, Jasmyn is going to Russia, I'm going to Ukraine(I probably forgot someone, but everybody has their own adventure) and we decided that blogs shall be kept and stalking shall be done. So here's to a summer of fun-filled adventures, new experiences, and blogging!
всего хорошего!
Chelsea