Friday, August 5, 2011

Последний день...

It's 2:30 Friday morning and I'm laying in my bed writing this. Souvenirs and gifts have been bought(thanks to a fun shopping trip with Nastia and a late night supermarket trip tonight), final school lessons are complete, goodbyes to friends have been said, and bags are packed. These past two months have gone by faster than I ever imagined. I have learned so much, not just about Russian language, but about being brave and independent, making new friends, the blessing of having a church family in a foreign country, what it really means to dance until the sun comes up, and how a city that I arrived in alone without even a single acquaintance can steal my heart and become home. Today I had a very wonderful last full day in Kyiv. In he morning before school I bought some chocolates to take to class for my last day and after lessons I recieved my certificate from school. 160 hours of Russian instruction at level B2! :) After school Karolina, Mario, and I grabbed a little something from a bakery before going to a lecture/talk on Ukrainian mass media and free speech. When that finished up I had to return my cell phone and feedback forms to the old office and then Mario and I walked(despite the rain) until meeting up with Nastia. It was still raining pretty hard so we went to Globus and drank coffee while the worst of the rain passed. Today Hastia gave me a really pretty flower headband(trditional Ukrainian type of folk art) that a friend of her mom's made. She had also given me a flag yesterday, which will undoubtedly be hanging on the wall of my dorm room))) After a bit we decided that the rain had probably stopped and ventured back out onto the street. That was probably about 18:00 and by the time we finished walking it was almost 22:00! Yeah, some intense гулять-ing!! It was a great way to spend my last evening though. Just walking around Kyiv wih friends,taking a few pictures, and enjoying just lovin life. At one point we had an interesting adventure when we got off at днiпро metro station to fin some major road construction and a place we probably shouldn't have been walking. When Nastia asked the police officer how we could get across the street to a less torn up area his only answer was "carefully". I couldnt help but laugh at that a little. Before Nastia headed home we bought Kvas one last time from the автомать(we were sooo happy that it was working). Saying goodbye to Nastia was so sad. She is such a happy, fun girl and we became really good friends even in the short time we spent together. I know that somehow, somewhere I will see her again. And for now We have skype amd Facebook and Vkontakte :) After Nastia left Mario and I said our goodbyes and neither one of us wanted to leave. Eventually it couldn't be put off anymore and I left to go home on the metro. :( It was quite late by that point, but thankfully there is a supermarket near my apartment open 24 hours a day and I was able to buy the chocolates I wanted to buy for people back home. When I finally got home I had to start packing which is why now, at almost 3am I am about to close my eyes for about four hours. Helsinki tomorrow, USA Saturday!
Всего хорошего!

Львов!

I'm honestly not ready to leave Kyiv at all. Friday is going to be a very sad day. I feel very at home here. All I ned to do is replace language school with university classes and be able to visit my family and everything would be great!
Ukraine is seriously an underrated country and this past weekend I had the opporunity to see another, quite different, part of Ukraine - Lviv. Friday after school I went to the rinok and bought a small umbrella for the trip. The brand was called "Star Rain" and all weekend we made jokes about it being such a great umbrella. Mario even bought a star rain umbrella at a rinok is lviv when t became apparent that his lovely Bulgarian umbrella had finally reached the point of being essentially useless for blocking the rain. After the rinok I stopped by the store to buy some food for on the train and hurried home to quickly grab my stuff and head to the train station. When I stopped by home the electricity in our entire building was turned off, so I was thankful for the bright sunshine. At the train station we found our train listing and then had some pre-trip ice cream and got on the train. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the train was. When we bought the "сидящое место" tickets I was afrain that it would be  bench for three people and really close together and uncomfortable.  this train, however, was new and a special express train to Lviv with really comfortable seats, lots of leg room, and supposedly air conditioning(although in reality it was quite warm on the train). The seven ours to Lviv went by quickly and I passed the time reading news, studying, chatting, relaxing, and exploring the train a bit with Mario and Federico. Around 23:30 we arrived and set out for he hostel on foot, walking on the massively torn up road and trying to navigate a city completely new to us. In the end we found the hostel, i think around oneish, after realizing that there are twov very similarly named streets and we happened to be looking for the hostel on the wrong street.  Even after the little adventure of searching for the hostel we weren't completely tired and decided to get something to drink and do a little nighttime walking in the center of the city. It was a perfect summer night for walking outside and we had a nice chance to get a first impression of the city. Saturday morning we slept a bit and then grabbed some breakfast and headed out on the walking tour outlined in my Ukrainian guidebook. The center of Lviv is quite compact, so it was nkce that the tour took us a little bit outside of the center as well. One of my very favorite parts of the walking tour was walking to the "high castle" seeing the park there and then going up to the highest point and taking pictures and enjoying a great view of the city. Except for a few minutes of rain while we were at the castle area, the weather was really great. Lviv is the kind if city where it seems better to have clouds and partly grey skies than bright sunshine. Speaking of he character of Lviv, it really is a completely different city than Kyiv from the very first sight. Alhough I have not yet been to Poland, my friends observed that it looks a lot like a Polish city, which makes sense because we were a vey few kilometers from the Polish boarder. i think Federico's favorite park of the walking tour was all o he rinoks we stopped by along the way. We took some funny pictures of the massive amounts of meat laying out on the counters of the rinok and one of the babushka's let us taste the cheese she was selling. Eventually we strayed from the path of the walking tour a bit and decided to take an excursion to a small village outside of Lviv recommended by a guidebook Federico had. After a long walk along our favorite torn up road to the bus station, we got to enjoy the wonderful Ukrainian roads for about an hour and half. Once we found the marshrutka stop and "museum" complex with the help of some locals(seriously there were absolutely no signs) we came to find out that it was about to close. :( The closing time wasnt written in the guidebook, but we wrongly assumed that in the middle of the summer an open-air complex would be opened a lot later than five. We acually got there in enough time that we would have been able to see everything, but they for some reason have the system of stopping ticket sales an hour before closing, a concept I dont completely understand the logic behind. To make things even better, the skies opened up at this point. Umbrellas im hand, we decided to make the most of our situation and walk around the village a bit. Even though things didnt go exactly as planned, I was still in a really good mood and enjoying another one of life's unexpected adventures. On the drive home the roads were even better than om the way there(sarcasm, of course) because of the heavy rain and small lakes that had formed along the road. By the time we got back to Lviv the rain had stopped, so it turns oit that ita actually better that we spent the time of the worst weather on the bus( having a nice view of Ukrainian countryside) because we would have been bored in Lviv while the storm passed. After eating some pizza and walking around the city a bit more, we went back to the hostel to relax and decide on a club to enjoy Saturday night. Shortly after we got to the hostel our new roommates arrived in the form of a big cheerful Russian family. We didnt talk to them much, but they were normal enough roommates. The club, "Metro", was super fun with three dance floors and an outside area too. The atmosphere was a bit more relaxed than the club in Odessa andthere was one dance floor in the basememt that I particularily enjoyed. Even though we got there before midnight, Mario and I somehow danced until the sun came up and left the club around 6am. Such a fun fun night! After less than three hours of sleep it was up and at 'em again for our last day in Lviv. We went to the cemetary there, which is really big and beautiful and then to the folk architecture museum. It was a bit of a chilly day, but I enjoyed it all the same. When qwe finally figured out the correct marshrutka we rushed to the train and set out for Kyiv. We were all on different parts of the train because so few tickets were left when we bought ours. We had two tickets in "second class" where four people share a private compartment and one in hird class where fifty people share an open area. I had already decided to take the third class ticket because it's he safest  situation for a girl on her own and really it was все равно мне. However, when I got to my spot, noticed someone was in my seat, and kindly explained that spot 38 was in fact mine, the man with ticket 37 somewhat less than kindly told me to go sit somewhere else because his wife would be occupying spot 38. I didnt want to get in an argument with this stubborn Ukrainian man, so I just waited until the lady came to take our tickets and explained it to her. In the end, I just ended up sitting a few rows away until they got off the train at whatever small city we were in around 23:00 by which time I just climbed up into my bunk to read anyhow. I slept on and off from about 00:30 until a little before three when the train attendant went by to wake up tye passengers getting off a Kyiv. Thr train was a bit late getting into Kyiv and it was after 3:30 when I got into the taxi headed home. The taxi driver was a super nice guy who wanted to know everythig about America and asked me questions the whole time. When he found out tht I'm from Indiana he about freaked out because he loves car racing and is dreaming of seeing the Indy 500 someday. He also was of the opinion that Obama is a dictator and said at least three times "какой диктатор Америки, ваш президент Обама" By the time I got to bed it was after five Monday morning, but such a wonderful weekend in Lvov was worth the incredible lack of sleep all weekend. Всего хорошего!