Category Archives: Ukraine

10 Things I Wish I Could Take With Me

The end has come.

Tomorrow, my 10 months here in Ukraine will be up. Tomorrow I will fly back to the U.S., back to understanding what everyone around me is saying, back to no longer being the expert on English and American life, back to that other jump rope game that kept going while I was gone, and that I now need to jump back into.

And regardless of the joy that comes with family, friends, and comforts back “home,” there is no doubt that I will miss life here. So here are the top 10 things that I have no way of cramming into my suitcases but wish I could take back with me:

10. Cottage cheese fritters. These I am actually going to try to bring back with me…well, the recipe, anyway.

9. A slower pace of life. Yes, people are busy here, but not like in the States. Last week I went to a picnic on the beach with two families…the whole families were there, and we spent 7 hours together. And I was the only one who really needed to get back home.

8. Fantastic drinkable yogurt. Yum.

7. My apartment. I lived in a penthouse apartment this year, with more space than I’ve ever had before, plenty of good light, and (almost) all the comforts I could ask for. In fact, I’m savoring these last few minutes in this super-comfy desk chair. Add to that a friendly and helpful landlady and quiet neighbors, and you’ve got a winner.

6. Khachapuri, that blessed creation of soft bread oozing with melted Georgian cheese. Oh yeah. 2016-06-03 20.25.57

5.  A pedestrian lifestyle. I love the wide sidewalks and all of the people out walking on them at all times of the day. I love feeling like walking is the normal way of getting around. 2015-09-05 16.39.14 2015-10-15 10.03.57

4. Extensive public transportation. I never felt the need for a car this year; everywhere I wanted to go, I could take a bus (or train, or subway). I lived right by the main bus stop in town, and buses came so frequently that I rarely wondered, “When is that bus coming?”

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Okay, so it IS a bit crowded…

Going up to Kyiv and back, I enjoyed looking out the window at the landscape. It never got old.


3. Reasonable portion sizes at restaurants. They actually serve an amount you should eat, not four times that amount.

2. The purchase power of the U.S. dollar. To say that my dollar got me more here than in the U.S. would be a gross understatement. Goodbye, $2.00 restaurant meal. Goodbye, 3-hour bus ride to Kyiv for $5.00. And a sad farewell to $13 a week providing a woman to clean twice a week and cook once a week.

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$1 for these strawberries from the farmers’ market

And the number one thing I wish I could bring back with me is not a thing at all. It is, of course:

1  The people. My friends, my colleagues, my Ukrainian community. The Olgas, the Oksanas, the Julias, the Allas, the Lidas, Oleg and Inna and Yaroslava, Pavel and Pasha and on and on. There is far too much I could say about them; let me just say that they have made this year what it was: rich, formative, unforgettable.

I am most grateful to all of them, and miss them already.


Signs…that I am far from home

Signs, postings, instructions, descriptions – these are all a common source of entertainment in a foreign country. I haven’t come across as many as I expected this year, probably because there isn’t all that much written in English! But there have been a few that have caught my eye.

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Every time I walk by this restaurant near my apartment, it amuses me to think of gun-slinging cowboys moseying into a “snack bar.”

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This one was in Slovakia…
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And here we have a restaurant by the Black Sea in Ukraine that seems completely unconcerned about copyright infringement. The upside-down M creates the “sh” sound in “shwarma,” a Middle Eastern meat wrap. The slogan beneath says,” I love it.”
This place in Moldova needs a new advertising campaign. I’ll tell you, saying that they are probably the best fajitas in Moldova is a mighty weak claim.
Now we’re talking! Those sound like some remarkable kebabs.



This pizzeria in Moldova serves ‘American-style’ pizza with marinated mushrooms, corn, and beans. How long have I been away?
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Look – they could have called this french-fry pizza ‘American Style’ if they hadn’t already used it up on the corn and beans.



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It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to Modesto, but I’d associate it with this salad about as much as I associate Hollister with surfing.
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Well, when you say what’s in it, it kind of ruins the mystery…
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Is a dictionary that hard to use??
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…because we need to remember those less fortunate among us, who might not have enough fast food burgers. But beggars can’t be choosers, so maybe we should just donate hot dogs.

I liked the hotel I stayed at in Bratislava, but their rules did worry me a little.

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Perhaps it’s excusable to wear your pets if you can’t allow the poor creatures to lie down. I do appreciate the fact, though, that they cannot keep their guests unattended, and most especially that they must not be used as inventory in meal preparation.
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Ooo, looks like someone took a class on legal writing!
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I must say, it bothers me that they are telling me not to abuse my own personal information, while they are free – nay, bound – to use it with the Foreign Police. It’s no wonder guests are required to use their complaint services.

Now here we have a couple of interesting ads online.

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It’s hard to resist clicking on this one!
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This is an advertisement to fly to Chicago. Folks might have a surprise in store if this is their image of Chicago.
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This one is posted on a service door.

And finally, in Georgia:

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The fact that this is Fresh Spring Flower scented just doesn’t make it any better.