Sunday, January 17, 2016

Back to School

Hi all,

I have to say that I always hated the beginnings of semesters (or quarters, going back to high school). I'm not overly fond of change: I enjoyed knowing my schedules, the expectation of the teachers and classes I was in and the routine that I built up. Becoming a teacher hasn't changed that much - except that my class schedule is at least the same. Added fun for this semester is completing my grad school work, serving on several committees and continuing to do several trainings a month (I assume).

This has made me a bit reluctant to jump back into school. Although, honestly, I have no idea what I'd do with myself if they extended break. It's just...change!

I've made a valiant attempt to prepare myself - mostly by keeping an irregular schedule and doing things in no way productive to the upcoming events. Play hard, work hard, right? Yesterday was the last day of freedom, and so I enjoyed it.

We were hoping to do a volunteer meet-up at the local red wine festival - which indeed was happening all week, but at the park instead of town center. However, we also got a surprise snowfall, blanketing the town in 2-3 inches of slushy snow. The two volunteers in the town nearest to me (excluding Hugo), decided to not come over fears of slipping. Hugo decided to come on Sunday - until he read up on the program of events and discovered the fire performers were going to have a show in the evening.

Not My Cat
I made plans to go in a bit earlier with my counterpart Lila and another teacher, and so was leaving my apartment at 2:30pm. I stepped out into the hallway to discover a man knocking on the door across the hall from mine. He perked up a bit at seeing me, and rapidly launched Ukrainian (?possibly Russia? it was rapid). I asked him to repeat, and still understood nothing. So I gave my "I don't speak good Ukrainian because I'm American" speech, and he graciously replied in very good English that he was wondering if anyone on my floor had an orange cat.

I didn't know the answer to this, other than the obvious fact that I  don't have a cat. He followed me down the steps explaining that the cat (spotted easily on the next floor) was camping outside his door, and running in at every occasion.The cat was about three quarters grown, clearly well-cared for and quite friendly - running up to say hello. The cat then followed us down to the next floor, crouching in front of the door under the man's apartment. He knocked, but there was no answer.

As I turned to go out the door, I decided to take a photo of the handsome fellow, and caught the apartment door opening as I did.

Not their cat.

However, when I returned 4 hours later, the cat was not in evidence - I'm hoping he finally found the right door!

Fire Show
So, going to a wine festival with Baptists is a pretty anti-climatic affair. It wasn't until after 5 minutes that I was informed that they were now planning on going to the center. So I trooped along after them, shadowing their random errands until Hugo arrived. It was just below freezing, and the slushy sidewalks had turned my toes a bit frosty.

We went to the festival, wandered the craft booths (not quite as good as the honey festival's, surprisingly) and got some hot spiced wine. We then decided to grab a bite to eat, and got shuffled down into a communal table. We were seated across from a friendly couple who were from Chernihiv - a place where we'd gone for training seminars.

They were in the area to enjoy the thermal springs, and were wrapping up their visit to the south. They soon insisted on sharing some of their wine with us, and we stumbled our way through conversation. The husband was a geology teacher (or geography...?) so Hugo the archaeologist was well suited to talk shop. Unfortunately, the fire show started while we were chatting, so we all ended up getting up fairly quickly to go watch. It was an interesting contrast to my life in Germany - there the language barrier wasn't even as strong, yet it was very hard to find people willing to engage with you. Here, countless times I have encountered the opposite. Despite so little common language, the attempt is usually made and carried out with enthusiasm, laughter, and (to be honest) alcohol.

The fire show itself was much shorter than the last for the city name day, but was still quite a sight.
Anyhow, off to enjoy my last evening of relative freedom until June! (/July, when camp ends...)

Hope all is well,


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