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Produce and other happy surprises

July 4, 2010

Right now in Ukraine fresh produce is silly inexpensive, which is wonderful and right now, I am a happy person. I have been eating a lot of cherries, and purchasing more (in addition to raspberries) to put in my freezer for the winter to come. I had previously purchased strawberries as well (during the one week they were in season) but they went bad while I was in Transcarpathia and the electricity went out in my place.  I tried to buy more this past week but they had gone up in price from 13 hriv for a kilo to 20, so I passed though I probably should not have. Now it seems that cherries are in full ripeness and I believe apricots are starting. I am seeing a lot of peaches too though based on their price I don’t think they are in season yet. But veggies are great too and after my first few months here when I was fairly produce deprived, I am happy. Never thought I would be so happy to eat cabbage! But just to have control over my food again is a positive thing.

So this past week I have been settling in to where I live, trying to learn more about what I will be doing, and meeting people. I have also had a lot of “down” time as my counterpart is very busy and I do not spend every day with her, and there is not an office as such, where she goes and works every day. She bounces around, going to meetings, working some from home, and spends very little time in the office, which is really tiny. It is an interesting situation – she  tells me how many people want to work with me and I think I am starting to meet some, but this is going to take some patience. I thought I could get rolling on the projects with the University, but they just held their graduation yesterday and as of next week they will be on vacation for a month. But apparently the school will be open and I will have an office, so I can start planning things I will be working on there (and hopefully working on language!). Definitely an adjustment period going on! During my interview they asked me about “unstructured” positions…now I see why. I have worked in unstructured positions before but this is entirely new. I feel like once I get my head wrapped around what I will be doing I will be fine, but I am still learning.

Today I took a three-hour walk to explore a little more of Kirovohrad. I walked up to and through the big bazaar in town, over to Dendropark, then on to and through another neighborhood, back through the center and home. Dendropark is a large park here that also has rides (and, I found out today, a puppet show) and is very popular with families during the warm weather. So I spent a little while there, then kept going.

Every day the university is open I find out something new and (so far) pretty cool about it. The other day my back was hurting a lot, and I mentioned it to Lena (my university counterpart). She asked if I wanted a massage, because they have a place at the school for it – apparently therapeutic massage and something else is a certificate study course. So she led me up to the 4th floor to the end of the hall to this very nice room, and into another one where I got a massage, then laid on magnets for 20 minutes. I even weighed myself (not something I do often). After the massage I had tea and some oxygenated drink – it was wonderful! Yesterday morning I went back for what I thought would be another treatment but it turned out to be another magnet treatment (whatever, my back feels better!) and what turned out to be physical therapy type exercises. A woman came in and led me to a room that is next to the library, opened it up and it was exercise equipment! Not like we have in the States but wow! Unfortunately I had not anticipated this as I was dressed for the graduation ceremony, in a dress, but I worked through it. Literally. And on Friday when I had a meeting with the Director, he asked me how I liked Transcarpathia then told me I would also get the chance to go to Crimea! These folks are doing so much to make me comfortable/happy here, for which I am so grateful. My room is down from four beds to two, I now have a drying rack and am just waiting on another wardrobe (for hanging things).

Ten days in the cast thus far, and about another week to go. I am looking forward to having it removed!

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