Sunday, September 30, 2012

Odessa.

We just got back from the greatest weekend vacation in Odessa which is a coast town on the Black Sea. I love Kiev, but there is something about little quaint beach towns that just gets me right in the heart. I would be the happiest girl in the world to live in a little town like that. Trees galore, statues and parks everywhere, adorable cafes on every corner, gelato/popcorn/belgian waffle stands, people out walking, coffee smell, carnival-y night life, light sea breeze, GAH! I love Odessa. And PS, our group of girls could not be more perfect. Such a jolly time was had by all. Totes def.

I'm going to try really hard not to overload you with pictures. I actually didn't take too many cause I was planning on just stealing them from the other girls. So here's what I've got.


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We took a sleeper train Wednesday night to get there. It was bumpy, lurchy, small and a thousand degrees. But it was still a super neat experience!  
Afton, Alisha and I had a random lady in our compartment..heh heh. She was a nice travel companion actually. She showed us how to do everything. So of course as thanks we creeped on her.
Here's our hostel! It was adorable and nice and all 12 of us slept in one room.
Thursday after we got there we went to the Black Sea for a little while.
Yes mom, I absolutely did put my feet in!
Some of the girls were brave. 
The next day we all got pretty little tarts for breakfast.

Walked through a park..
Neat.

Seriously. Look at this picture. There's a beautiful garden, an amazing fountain, a sweet building in the back, a Ukrainian flag blowing in the light wind, 70 degrees, church bells ringing off in the distance, sitting on a park bench in ODESSA UKRAINE...what?? We all had a 'life just doesn't get much better' moment.
I rubbed this guy's nose for good luck. 
Then we ate at this cafe called chokoladnitsia. Chocolate all day e'ry day 
To die for.
Heaven? Yeah. (Lviv chocolate factory again)
Then Friday night we saw a real Ukrainian ballet!!! We saw Sleeping Beauty. Very lovely.
The inside was unreal 
Pit orchestra
Then yesterday (Saturday) we spent almost all day at the Black Sea. We had a picnic and some of the girls full on swam. Kylie and I and our stunna shadez
Love these ladies
Duck faces. Necessary.

There you have it. Tomorrow I'll have story time. Our splendid vacation was not without surprises. Goodnight lovely humans!! XOXO

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Snakes.

video

The pre-k kids (Nikolai and Kirill) are apparently terrified of snakes. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Illushas.

I should never be a real teacher. I would play favorites way too hard. Secretly I love these two the most. Meet Illia Homych and Illya Smirnov (short for Illusha).

I got them hooked on Temple Runner. They would not leave for a half hour after class ended cause they wanted to play.
They. Are. So. Cute. I will probably smuggle them to America.
Reasons why they're my favorite. On the first day of class I was sitting at my desk and Illia H comes rushing down the hall screaming "HELLO MISS MALLORY!!" 

Illya Smirnov (on the right) is 10 years old. And he is the freaking most genius kid I have met. First off, they have a school-wide knowledge competition here that goes region and even country-wide that the students participate in, and this kid has won first place three years in a row. Secondly, he knows Russian, Ukrainian, English, French and German. Here are just some snippets of conversations I've had with him.

Illya: I read about hail that was the size of golf balls in (some country) and they were about 2 kilos a piece!
Me: That is crazy! I don't know kilos though, only pounds.
Illya: Oh a pound is 2.2 kilos.

We did a science experiment where you put a tissue in the bottom of a cup and push it straight down into a bowl of water and the tissue stays dry. (It's cool, try it.)
Me: So why do you think the tissue stays dry?
Illya: Because the air pressure is greater than the water pressure.

Me: What's the difference between will have, has and had?
Illya: Had is the past imperfect form of has. 

The kid's TEN!! He's just crazy smart and it blows my mind. 
I love these kids. They are the cherry on top of this experience.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

St. Sophia.

This week was hard. And people I mean HARD.
Our head teacher didn't plan anything for us to do today/this weekend because she just wanted us to relax. I don't know about the other girls, but I needed sooooomething to occupy me. So me + a few of the girls decided to get out and do stuff anyways. Afton told us her host mom was taking her to some cathedrals and we could join. Hail yeah.

The architecture here is so freaking amazing. All the buildings are my favorite color.
Statue of St. Michael (I think). He's a protector.
St. Sophia's cathedral. The number 1 attraction in Kiev. This is the only cathedral that was left standing during WWII.
Gorgeous. We went inside but we weren't allowed to take pictures. Take my word for it, it was incredible. They kept a ton of original stuff.
We were allowed to take pictures of this though....it's made of eggs.
Close up
Here's a window on the second floor of the cathedral. That's Queen Olga's cathedral out there
The Bell Tower. I love this thing. We climbed it.
So many flippin stairs. My thighs are TONED
And the view
Top of the Cathedral
Then Kylie really had to pee, so the two of us walk in and see this and bust up laughing. I wish I could say she was desperate enough to attempt it, but no, it was not so.
Then we got ice cream in the city square.  
It was a perfect day. 
Sometimes it's hard to remember where I am and what I'm doing when stuff is going crazy at home and I miss the crud out of people some days, but seriously. I just really love Ukraine. Even just riding the metro all the way into town by myself today was an adventure and getting to finally wear a wooly scarf + jacket today because of the divine fall weather here made me smile. I'm so grateful to be here.
So friends, I hope you all have a wonderful week. Each and every one of you. And remember this


And this


And this.


XOXOXO

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sunday funday.

Sunday we headed home from Zhytomyr....but the fun wasn't over yet. We stopped at this huge gorgeous park for a few hours and hung out. There were little artisan shops where you could make pottery on a pottery wheel and dolls out of fabric, a playground, and even a petting zoo. I'll show ya in pics.


Pond in the park. Full of koi and all kinds of fish. Maria threw all our snacks in there for the fish to eat.
Tanya and Maria making a doll! (I promise I will eventually get a better picture of them) 
Bunnies and some extraordinary chuckens
What a creature.
 LOOK WHAT I FOUND BY THE PLAYGROUND. He was just sleeping on his ground all alone with his nose   in the dirt, so of course I could NOT resist cuddling him for a while

Apparently lots of Ukrainians here have what are called dochas (dah-cha). They usually have an apartment in the city and a docha out in the country. Tanya and Andre have one but it's not all the way done yet. Anyway, we left the park and went to Tanya's parents' docha a few minutes' drive away. It was beautiful. We drove through the woods and down a little dirt road to get there.

Here's the backyard!
Tanya's dad Boris loves gardening. So many flowers.
Mushroom picking is apparently a big thing here. Tanya's mom had picked these all in the woods!  Then she cooked them for us with onions and cream, holy cow it was good.
Here's Boris, Maria and Maria's friend Anya on that little road we drove down.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Zhytomyr.

This weekend I took a short little trip to Zhytomyr (zhih-toe-murr) with my host family. Zhytomyr is about an hour and a half from Kiev and it's a much smaller town in comparison. Probably as big as good ol' PG. Andre's parents live there and it was his mom's birthday and his grandparents' 50th anniversary so we had a big celebration.
We left on Friday night and it just confirmed my promise that I will never try to drive here. People do U-turns ON the freeway. It's nuts. When we arrived in Zhytomyr I was introduced to Andre's super nice family. Andre's mom is actually an English teacher and she kept correcting everyone's grammar, telling them to use present imperfect tense and future participles, etc. I don't think even native speakers know what that means. I don't! It was super funny. The next day, my wonderful guides Vova and Yulia took me around Zhytomyr to a cosmonaut museum, city square and an awesome park, and to a chocolate cafe. 


Here's Korolyov's cosmonaut museum. Korolyov was born in Zhytomyr and made the first space apparatuses for the Soviet Union. Smart guy. So the museum was made in his honor. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the inside! My favorite part was learning about the dogs that were sent to space. One of the dogs' puppies was given to Mrs. Roosevelt as a gift.
While we were in the museum alllll these bikers piled in. As you can imagine, seeing  about a hundred Ukrainian bikers in a cosmonaut museum was quite the sight. 
Walking to the awesome bridge.
View off the bridge! Zhytomyr is so beeeeautiful with all the trees.
In the park there are all these old amusement park rides! Super cool.
We rode this one.
Writing on the ground 
Statue of Korolyov in the square 
So this cafe we went to is called the Lviv Chocolate Company and it is a dream. There are a handful of locations across Ukraine. It is just a cafe with a chocolate theme. I had tea with chocolate and mint, sweet mercy it was heaven. And we had chocolate covered marzipan too. Those of you who are familiar with my marzipan obsession can imagine my enthusiasm.
Here is Andre's parents' house! Flowers everywhere.
Grape vines above. They make their own wine
Two cute dogs! I can't remember their names...they also had a kitty named Fila. He was  such a nice cat.
Tiny church down the road 
The end of Zhytomyr. This picture doesn't do it justice. It was gorgeous.
At Andre's parents house that night we had a huge dinner and there were lots of toasts and it was just really fun. We came home yesterday and more fun events were had but that's a tale for another day. XOXO