hey!!! I haven't been able to write to you either because I haven't had internet until just barely. I'm doing great. Monday, I packed up and went to one of the other teacher's grandparents house because we had to be at the airport at 6 so we had to leave at 5 so I really didn't want to ask my hometeacher. The next morning, her grandparents drove us to the airport. We had the short flight to Chicago then we waited. Then the long flight to Dusseldorf. In Dusseldorf I got a stamp in my passport and then mostly waited. Other people who spoke german were very excited to be there, I was terrified. We had to go through customs and they questioned me about my flashcards and it really freaked me to not understand them and then they thought my flashcards were really funny and laughed at me. And I got really scared because I thought this is what Ukraine is going to be like, I'm not going to be able to read anything or speak to anyone. Fortunately when wegot of the plane I immediately felt better than in Germany. I can understand a little bit and it just sounds familiar so I feel better than in Germany. I really don't know how the other teachers are dealing with it. I do know that I'm probably doing the best of any of them because I really have had minimal homesickness and I think it's mostly because I can somewhat take myself around and I can read the metro signs. Oh my goodness I don't know how they are dealing. Anyways, we then got on the bus and went to our host families'. My family was really nice and fed the next morning I played with Styopa, Стёпо. he's four and he has down's syndrome. he's way cute and calls me тётя (tyotya) which means aunt. It's way cute. Then I went to school. That evening I came home and fell asleep right away for a little nap. I had such a hard time getting up when it was dinner time. We had a delicious dinner though. All the food has been reallycool. We've had potatoes in a kind of soup thing, pickled fish, pickled cabbage (kind of like sourkraut), sausage, kasha (buckwheat), oatmeal, oladshi (little pancakes things), cmetana (sour cream), sausage patty things, cherry and mint tea, marrow sauce, cheese, yogurt, pickle pizza (for breakfast), konfetka (candies) and bread. They are not at all shy about portion size or how much butter they put on. If I let them butter my bread, I have as much butter as bread. I really have liked everything except maybe the pickled fish...that was kind of gross. The candies are delicious as were the oladshi...yum! I was also really surprised at my reaction to buckwheat. When I smelled it cooking it made me think of galettes and made me feel at home. There is a lot of stuff about food that is really fun. They don't know the words for most food but that's the chapter we're doing in Russian right now so we discuss food in Russian. It's fun too because whenwe are eating I can talk to them. Especially when we have tea. That's really big here. They don't drink water only tea. The savovar has been replaced by the electric water heater thing like in Australia and it's my job to put it on because I sit next to it. I've been lucky that my family for the most part drinks herbal tea. Best tea experience was actually the night that I'm on. The dad had been eating dinner with me (only two people can eat at a time because the table is so small) and afterwards he got a mug for me and it was the present from the last teacher so it had Utah on it. He was really excited because he could say Utah. So he was pointing and saying Utah Utah. I said "Я учусь в юте" (I study in Utah). And he got really excited, "You speak Russian!!! blah blah blah!" I had to slow him down and say only I only speak a little bit. We discussed where I had learned Russian, where we lived, how many family members I have, etc. I had a hard time explaining the whole Australia thing but it was fun. The next day, I got lost trying to get to Megan's house. I had to go back to my house and get my mom to explain where I was going. She made me a map and I got there. But the babushka answered the door and said Megan had left 15 minutes ago. I ran down to the metro station and finally got to the right station. I got to cross the river, the Dnipro. It is all frozen over and gorgeous. I went to training at the school. Then we went exploring on the different metro stops. We went a store and saw lots of cool things. I helped everyone get water without cabonation. (No one else knows Russian). Then we went to a different station and walked a girl home. On the way back we went through a mall and I helped some of the girls buy stuff. At first they tried to do it themselves by saying "Do you speak english?" but they didn't and so they were just getting each other confused. Finally I got my courage up and cut in. Since then, everytime they wanted to know how much something was, I was in charge of asking. I'm going to have to work on my numbers some more because when they say it really fast, I miss some of it. Today, I also had to help them because we made it to the school but were locked out and we were waiting outside and the housekeeper came up and tried to talk to us and they freaked. I didn't completely understand her and I really couldn't answer her questions very well, but I could at least kind of communitcate and tell her we were teachers waiting for Tanya to come and we didn't have a key. It must have worked because she let us in. I am always so terrified but after I speak it always really makes me really happy. Especially when I know that it came out with the correct inflection. I am really surprised that I've been able to do so well actually and I hope I'll be able to keep getting better. So Anyways,after shopping it was pretty late. Megan got a call from her host family saying my mom was worried about us. It wasn't really late like eight, but when it gets dark at four I guess that's late. When I got home I could tell they must have been really worried because they spoke to me in really fast Russian saying "We thought you were dead! Or wandering the streets of Kiev with no idea how to get home!" I was very proud of myself because I was able to explain where we had gone and I think that was a the first time they (except for the dad) realized I could actually speak Russian because I've been really shy and scared of offending their ears. But it was amazing how much it opened them up to me. They started explaining what we were going to have for dinner and asked me to show my photos (speaking of which could you send some pictures of our house in Virginia, they are facinated by the idea of a house rather than an apartment). Vanya and Sasha showedme their art. They are both incredible artists. I showed them my folder and they were really happy saying "Это Иван??? Это Иван??" (It's Ivan isn't it?) Then I showed them photobooth and we had a great time taking pictures and then I showed them Stuart's movies. Vanya was fascinated and he wanted to make one so they made a couple. My favorite was Sasha doing Jacki Chan moves. Jacki Chan is famous everywhere. Then I showed them Luxor. They fought over it just like Stuart and Emily would. When they went to go to sleep Vanya said, "You no let me play computer game too much. I like computer games all the time and no work. It's not good." Maybe Stuart will be that mature when he's 11...maybe. And then this morning I got up early and went to the school. Had the fun run in with the housekeeping lady and wrote you. So that's life in Ukraine there are a bunch of weird things like people don't smile or talk in the streets (a fullmetro is completely silent) and it is seriously offensive to people to put your feet up on anything. You also have to take your shoes off before you go in because the streets are so nasty. They don't scrape the sidewalks or salt them at all so they are a mix of slush and ice and dirt. We have to walk about a mile to the metro station. It snows like everyday too. But it isn't that cold. All in all, I love it. I think I could live here...which is probably a good thing since I do currently. So that's the news from me. I'd love to here from you about New Zealand and how the return culture shock is in VA. My address is Igor Vavilov (our native coordinator, he's really nice)Annilyn SchillPO Box 68Kiev, Ukraine 03035And I was given a cell phone that you are welcome to call me at (it's free for me) the number is 380501336053 and I believe that includes country code. I'd love to here from you. Love,Lynnie
Annilyn! I miss you!
I love how excited your family was when they learned you could speak Russian, and how the little boy calls you Aunt!
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