Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Hope everyone is doing great in Singapore (or wherever you’re now :) ). I am back to update my life here in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. Warning: I am going to write in a casual style and this is going to be a LONG email.
Time flies…I am left with less than 3 weeks here in Ukraine and I am really glad I made the right choice to come here. I had a more than superb experience here, full of ups and downs (with more ups for sure), happiness and frustrations.
To summarize, some of my great experiences and encounters for the past 1.5 months:
- I drink more juices than water (tap water is not consumable and sometimes I can’t find water without soda)
- I go to the beach more times than during my 4-year stay in Singapore. I am darker than when I first arrived in Ukraine *haha
- I eat potato just like I eat rice in Asia. Long live potato!
- My students range from 6-40 over years old. From students to businessman. Challenging yet fulfilling!
- Usually girls greet others (the ones they know) with a kiss on the cheek and thus I’ve kissed hundreds times within this period (much more than my whole life)
- I’ve got locked up outside my flat 3 times as of now. The main door closes at 11pm. So, I’ve had woken other people up to open the door for me. Great exercise and full of adrenaline -__-‘’
- My first Local Committee Congress just because we don’t have this in Singapore. Ochin kruta! Freaking cool!
- There was once when I forgot to take out my purse from my laptop bag. I hopped onto a marshrutka and well…. I didn’t pay for it when I realized that I couldn’t locate my purse. Gosh..
- For AIESEC Night Walk, we went for my first boat ride around Dnepr river, picnic under the stars, Treasure Quest, stayed on the beach at dusk and looked at the sunset while freezing myself
- I don’t like drinking but it’s a normal scene and activity in Ukraine. So, I’ve tested Vodka with berry, Vodka and juice, champagne and red wine. Not bad… although all were in small quantity due to skin allergic.
- We played some crazy scary games that kinda freaked me out (for God’s sake….I am crazy but at a standard Asian’s level)
- I went for a 2-week Summer Camp. My first Summer Camp because we don’t have any Summer Camp in Indonesia/Msia/Singapore. It’s at a summer cottage with swimming pool, tennis and football court, open stage and disco area, dining hall and dorm. My previous camp required me to share a tent with 8 more people and we had to cook our own water to drink, and it’s in a mountain. So, it’s different kind of Summer Camp (of course, this is an exception as it was organized by a private school).
- We visited Donetsk twice (4 hour/way). The second one was last weekend where we participated in @Donetsk public Global Village. Two thumbs up!
- My first rock-climbing experience at Donetsk and for ONLY 1USD. Scary at first but relieved and proud after that *yippie kaye..
- A surprise Birthday party for me from the AIESECers. I really had a great time. One of the best Bdae ever and it makes it more difficult to leave these people. I am gonna miss them for sure.
- As a girl, I’ve bought my first shirt, jacket, shorts and a pair of new shoes… more to come *hahaha
- …. Goes on and on
Here are some additional observations and info to add up the one that I posted previously:
- There are many undergraduates for Economics, Law and Foreign languages. Economics seem to be the most popular specialization due to the opportunities that it offers once they graduate (e.g. salary and employment opps)
- The education system: 10 years of primary education (Grade 1 to 10) and continues with 6 years university education (Higher Diploma on the 4th year and Master on the 6th. So, they have a Bachelor defence on their 4th year). However, as what I was informed, the primary education will be prolonged to 12 years.
- Majority of the boys like football and Shevchenko is definitely one of their idols. Meanwhile, the girls usually take dance classes or other types of sports like tennis. I learn that many of my students take hip hop or ballroom dancing and tennis classes. Volleyball is not really popular here *huhuhu
- Western bands and singers are quite popular here too, from Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake to Deep Purple. However, majority likes electro, minimalist, techno or house music kind. I can hear this almost in every shop, from cars, mobile phones and MP3.
- Generally, the youth looks older than Asians in my humble opinion. It may be due to their physical built, make-up, lifestyle and so on. The good thing is… I look younger here ^o^
- Gentleman acts like giving their hands to help the girls on the tram, stairs, etc and giving seats to the girls/elderly people, opening doors for girls, and so on is more common here than what I know in Asia. So guys… a lesson to learn here.
- Girls usually know how to cook. Eating out is expensive and thus it is important to be able to cook proper meals. Girls… our turn to learn here.
- As part of USSR influence, the streets’ names are recognition to famous and influential people, such as politicians, poets and so on (Karl Marx, Lenin, Artem, Shevchenko, etc)
As a foreigner (even in the Lion City), one question that people never missed to ask is: “Do you like the country?” To be fair, I have to frankly reply: YES!! Of course there’re times when I feel down and frustrated over things. For instance, in Ukraine I can’t really find spicy food which I like (I’m from Indonesia anyway), there is not as much variety of fruits and vegetables compare to the tropical countries, it’s hard to find English publications (except online), the movies on the TV and cinema are all dubbed, shoes are costly compare to Indonesia/Msia/Spore *hohoho* and as a shoe-lover this is challenging, the staffs at the shops are less smiley compare to Asians, no Starbucks and thus I’ve been abstaining from my fave Frappucino and so on.
Aside from these, the fact that I don’t speak Russian/Ukrainian makes it hard to go around at times, even with my own students and teachers at school. But of course, it’s fun learning new words and sentences everyday. It’s not an easy language with its complex pronunciation and grammar. They may laugh when I pronounce some words, but they were also patiently teaching me the language. In return, I taught some Chinese words and had fun laughing too. 1:1
However, I love Ukrainian food. From Borsch (soup with potato and veggie), Blinchiki (pancake) to Bublik (Russia’s traditional cookie). I like its songs and melodies (the only national channel that I watch is EmOne, a music channel). I like the comprehensive public transport. They have tram, bus, minibus, marshrutka, trolley bus, taxi, metro and so on. They serve even from cities to cities, making it easy to travel around. The fact that I stay near the city centre makes it easier for me to travel around. From European Square, MOCT shopping centre, Historical Museum, Globa Park, Shevchenko Park to the beach, all are within walking distance of 25-30 minutes. I also like the kiosk on the streets, making it easy to buy drinks and snacks. And the list continues….
Still, the one and most important reason why I love my stay here is… the FRIENDS that I met here. The students and teachers are friendly and fun to be with. Although many of them don’t really speak English, they’re trying their best to communicate. The children are so cute that they started to teach as many Russian words as possible, mess my hair, greet, hug and tickle me (sometimes they really clung onto and kiss me), ask me to play Tuki-tuki (hide and seek) and catch-and-run with them, hide my bag and many more.
Yet, my biggest salute goes to the AIESECers. They are simply incredible. Every weekend, I am rest assured that I’ll have things to do or places to visit. During my free time, I’ll have someone accompanying me and we’ll have great time discussing and hanging out. I’ve had lotsa great times doing crazy things, discussing great topics, finding out about the people themselves and their views while sharing mine, testing new food and drinks, visiting places while observing how the country works. If one day I returned to Ukraine, the biggest reason would be to meet them again.
Time is running out very fast. I just have to make the most from what I have on my hands. So, I hope you all had a great life wherever, whoever and whenever you are! Be happy J
‘Happiness comes from within’
p.s: Congratz to the @SIPO MC and the LCs EB team for 2007/2008 on their National Planning. Heard it was successful and the @spirits were splendid. I am so happy and proud for you all. Keep the spirit!
Dianochka ^.*Pictures from my Summer Camp at "Starry"
A sand-castle by the students. Impressive!! A drawing of me from Nastya... *touched :) On Birthday Day celebration, they made a heart-shaped card for me. Students and teachers wrote their message in a small heart card and pasted it on a big one. I was so happee... haha *I am easily satisfied heh With some students at the Summer Camp. How was it? hm... full of ups and downs. It's FUN at times but it got boring after a few days (maybe not if I have a bunch of my great friends there).But I was elated when some @ers visited me at the camp (they had to walk over 2 hours to reach me haha)
Labels: AdVentUre, HaPpiNesS, LiFe
Posted by Ddee at 4:21 PM