Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Поїду до Харкова!

For those of you whose Ukrainian might be a little rusty, the title means "I'm going to Kharkiv!"  Yes, I have made the decision! There is something about Ukraine that I just can't resist and the program is really what I am looking for.  Furthermore, I have decided that I will stay in Kharkov for the whole year. (By the way, I'm just going to clear it up now that the city can be spelled with either an "O" or an "I" in the last syllable depending on if it is in Ukrainian or Russian, so I will probably flipping back and forth throughout the blog)  I had considered pursuing an internship in the second semester, but I have decided on studying for the year for several reasons.  First of all, I still have many summers and semesters to do an internship.  Right now it is more important for me to improve my language skills, especially considering that I will be studying Ukrainian as well.  In addition, if I stay in Kharkov the whole year the program allows me to stay in my apartment during the break between the semesters.  If I took an internship, I still wouldn't come back to the U.S., but would instead be playing homeless gypsy around Europe with ALL of my stuff. Yeah, not so fun. Another reason is that I plan to volunteer teaching English in Kharkov.  I have fallen so in love with teaching the munchkins here and I think that it would be neat to establish a sort of pen pal exchange program between the students in Bloomington and the students in Kharkov.  They are a little young to write each other as pen pals, but they are articulate enough to convey things for me to write, in addition to sending pictures and other small things to each other.  Staying for an entire year will allow me to more meaningfully engage in such a project.  I can't wait! It will do me good to be in one place for an academic year and to really settle and become comfortable there.  It's been a lot of paper work, stress, praying, and waiting, but I'm ready to embrace this next adventure! When do I get to start the countdown?!? ;)

In other news related to my life, today I had my first wipe-out of the running season! Lauren and I were about halfway into our 4 mile run, going slightly downhill, when suddenly I was on the ground.  It honestly happened so fast that I can't say for sure what happened, but I think that I didn't pick my foot up high enough and just caught my toe on the sidewalk.  With two scraped knees, scraped palms, and a blow to the left shoulder I was up again in a few second and after ensuring that all was well, we started running again.  I looked pretty rough with blood running down both of my legs, but the scrapes really weren't too deep and the best way to not focus on it was to just keep going.  Once we got back to the gym I realized that my little tumble has resulted in my ID card falling.  And since our ID cards run our lives for the most part, that was a bit frustrating. I was just saying recently how happy I was that almost 2 years of college and I've never lost it...oh well, it happens.  Chelsea was awesome enough to buy me dinner with her meal points (I covered her once a while ago when she thought that she had lost hers), so I was able to get some dinner and tomorrow morning I'll go get a new card.
Other than that, the run was wonderful.  The weather was perfect! Running in shorts and a t-shirt in February? I'll take that! Lauren pushed me a lot and I'm really thankful for that.  It's all worth it in the end.  Life is good :)

Всего хорошего!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maslenitsa (Мaсленицa)

Masle - what?! Yeah, I know, right!?! It's a Russian pancake festival, the Slavic equivalent of Mardi Gras, a celebration of the end of winter - all answers that I have thrown out in quickly explaining to a friend what this mouthful of a holiday is all about.   But what really is this Slavic tradition all about? Well, read a bit more and I'll do my best to give you a quick explanation of this week of fun and share how a room full of Slavs and wannabees (hey, that's me!) did Maslenitsa Indiana University style tonight.
Maslenitsa is religious and folk holiday prominently celebrated in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus during the week leading up to Lent.  You see, Eastern Orthodox Christians don't mess around when it comes to Lent.  They hard-core fast.  I'm talking meat, fish, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and other dairy products.  And oh, no dancing or merrymaking during Lent either - this is no time for secular fun! You're going to be sober, introspective, and really craving a nice Easter cake by the time of the glorious resurrection comes around, so Slavs go all out for Maslenitsa!
Bliny! The most popular food to eat during Maslenitsa is bliny (thin, Russian-style crepes), leading to the refference to Maslenitsa as a "pancake festival", because they are sweet and rich and are made with butter, milk, and eggs.  A variety of tasty fillings from fruit preserves to caviar can be rolled up inside of bliny, but I'm partial to condensed milk or raspberry preserves. Maslenitsa also brings about the last batches of meat-filled borshch and those lovely Russian salads full of mayonnaise, boiled egg, and meat.  Even though the holiday is often seen as a celebration of the end of winter, there is usually plenty of snow left in Russia for sleigh rides, sledding, snowball fights, and even some friendly brawling among (probably drunk) young men.   Lastly, Maslenitsa often includes the construction of a straw female effigy of Kostroma/Lady Maslenitsa which is burned on the last day of the week of celebration.
So there is a little bit of overview of the holiday.  Obviously not 100% inclusive because that would take way more time than any of us have and in reality, every family celebrates a little bit differently.
So that brings me to how the Slavic Department at Indiana University celebrated Maslenitsa tonight.  Instead of an entire week we had about 2 hours in one of the rooms of the IMU, but we did have plenty of delicious food, music, and even our own small Lady Maslenitsa. The absolutely delicious food was accompanied by a friendly competition for best dish, separated into the categories of bliny, and not bliny haha!  We even had our own small concert (My contributions were a Ukrainian pop song with my Ukrainian class and Частушки (musical limericks) with my Russian class).  The Частушки were the same ones we performed at the Slavic talent show first semester, but they are definitely a crowd favorite and oh so fun to sing! All in all, I had a great time, hung out with some great people, and ate some wonderful food.  Maslenitsa Indiana style was a success!
By the way, the movie The Barber of Siberia (Сибирский цирюльник) has a great Maslenitsa scene! If you start watching this clip at about 7:00, you'll get a pretty nice representation of a traditional village Maslenitsa! 


всего хорошего!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sunshiney Song for a Cloudy Day

It's dreary, damp, and a bit chilly outside, but in my heart it's sunny and bright! There's so much to be happy about in life, no matter what! :) Aaaannnddd...this song is super adorable!!! :D

Всего хорошего!