How a Swing Set Explains the World

My big Soviet block housing building in Sosnivka opened onto a large courtyard. It was snow covered in winter, verdant spring, sun drenched in summer, and copper-coloured with turning leaves in the autumn. If I stood on my crumbling concrete balcony (which didn’t do often: I was always nervous it would fall straight off the…

Reflections

Just about two years ago, I completed my Peace Corps service in Ukraine. It’s amazing to me that it’s been so long! How is it that it was more than 48 months ago that I was living in Sosnivka, teaching English, and living off smetana and pelmeni? I’m getting too old I guess…time is beginning…

Ukraine Now

And now for some less reflective, more pertinent thoughts on my recent trip to Ukraine (if you want the reflection and emotion, check out this recent post): Several of you have expressed interest in knowing what it was like to be in Ukraine during this critical time in her history. Thus, below (nicely organized in bolded headings so…

And Again Goodbye

As a student in Paris, I fell entirely in love. With the city, my host family, a boy, my friends: life was blissful. I was in love with the world that year. Yet when it ended and I left Paris, I didn’t cry. I don’t even remember feeling sad. I left Paris behind, and returned to California without much…

The Time Traveler

I’m moving backwards in time. Seventeen months ago, I left Ukraine. I flew on a Pegasus Airlines flight from Ukraine to Istanbul. Tonight I’m making that journey in reverse. This morning, I left from Stockholm. There, everyone spoke English perfectly; in cafes, people paid with plastic; drinks were served cold; and everyone had a smart phone. By…

Ukraine: When Violence Visits Your Own Home

When you read novels about destruction, revolution, or dystopian realities, if well written they cause you to feel real fear. The terror seems alive because, in your mind’s eye, you can imagine what that destruction and turmoil would look like in your own home, your own country. Classics like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, popular literature like The Hunger Games…

What a pumpkin pie (in France) can teach you about life abroad

It’s no secret that I’ve spent much of my life living in other countries. While this sounds romantic, and can often be, most of the time it’s just life. I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, exercise, read a book, eat dinner, and go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat….

Ask Me Another!

In light of the facts that it has been AGES since I last blogged, and that I’m about half way through my contracted time in Troyes, I’ve decided to write a simple Q&A style blog entry. We’ve also come up on a new year since the last time I wrote, and as the end of…

What’s in a Name

As I was sitting in a room full of French high-school students yesterday, I got to thinking about names. Midway through the English lesson I was observing my colleague teach, a student had a question. He raised his hand, but Jean-Philippe didn’t see him. “Monsieur?” the student then called out to him, finally grabbing the…

Strawberry Fields Aren’t Forever

“Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.” -JFK I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an essay I read a long time ago. I must have been in 8th or 9th grade when my mom came home with a college entrance…