Hello from Ukraine

Sorry about the long update silence. Yes we have arrived in Ukraine safely with all our gear, but we have had sporadic email/internet in the past 5 weeks hence the long wait.

Summer Holiday

Well we arrived 5 weeks ago to a wall of heat (especially compared to rainy London) and have enjoyed a summer holiday before we started work last week.

We stayed at my brother’s place (1 hour south of Kiev) in a lovely sleepy village. We spent our time sleeping, reading, helping around the place & spending time with the locals. We also took a 10 day road trip through the western part of Ukraine.

We stayed in 4 different spots & explored many different places. It is lovely countryside & still very ‘old fashioned’ looking. The Carpathian Mountain area is absolutely beautiful, as was the very old castle in Kamyanets Podil’ski (which we camped right next too) and the old quaint city of Lviv. There were 6 of us that went & we had a great time -- although it did rain a couple of days & turned a little bit cool.

Once we got back from the trip, the temp just got progressively higher everyday until the day we shifted into Kiev it was almost unbearable in our apartment at about 38 (or maybe higher) degrees. It has dropped back down though & is lovely autumn weather, gotta make the most of it!

We have also spent a bit of time checking out the property market. We have put an offer on a house, (near my brother’s one) but at this stage just waiting to see what happens. We realise that nothing will happen in a hurry here. It is the land of documentation & official stamps, which I am sure is the source of half the countries jobs!

International School

Last week we had 3 teachers’ only days to prepare our classes etc. We were delighted to find that our classes had 12 (Jon) and 18 (Ruth) students in them, and as they are Bi-Lingual classes (the core subjects are taught in both Ukrainian & English) we only teach about half the periods each week. I am teaching a Year 5 class, & Jon has Year 6.

The school year here always starts on Sept 1st with a first bell ceremony. Unfortunately it fell on a Saturday this year, so although we had no classes we had to attend the first bell ceremony. It is a big thing for the Year 1 students as this is there first day of school. They get really dressed up, say little poems, sing songs, & dance. There were a few speeches also & of course the bell was rung. The students also bring bouquets of flowers to their teachers. The house looked a bit like a funeral parlour after that!

So we started lessons this week, both our classes are really nice, no behavioural problems at all, they love to learn & are very eager, although at times they don’t completely understand! It is actually fun teaching here & we are looking forward to a great year. The Year 4 teacher didn’t show, so if anyone is interested…come have the best teaching year in your life!

Language & Culture

Couldn’t finish this letter without a word about Jon’s no-shame language skills! He is actually doing really well with Ukrainian (although it is a bit disappointing to find that they mainly speak Russian in Kiev) & tries to learn 5 new words every day. So awhile ago one of his words for the day was ‘service’ & we were in the markets buying him some shorts, so he tries his new word out & says to the lady, “Thanks for your service.” He found out later that the version of ‘service’ that he had been learning actually meant ‘church service’ which explained the weird look the lady gave him!

There are times when we feel a bit homesick or frustrated that we are not understood, but with our great jobs & some good friends (that speak English) it helps to even it out.

Our Flat

We have moved into a 1 bedroom flat (it was a bit of a mission to find anything good both price-wise & condition) that is close to school. We have had to buy quite a few things to get going, but now it is beginning to feel like home. We want to be able to have people over often & feel maybe that we can feed & care for some of the students we know that have come to Kiev to study from the villages.

Well that about wraps it up for us this time…rather longer than usual. Although I will just have to end by saying “GO THE ALL BLACKS”! With staff from England, Wales, SAF, AUS, Ireland, & Canada I’m sure the rugby will make for some great conversations!!

P.S. Here is a photo we received the other day of a bus that is travelling around Tauranga…gave us a good laugh!


Jeanne said...

Glad to see all is going well!

Praying for you guys!

Let me know when you guys get more settled & maybe we can have you over for a game of Settlers (or poker)!

Dave and Michelle said...

Hey enjoying reading what you are up to.
Dave and I are back in NZ, Pukekohe actually and went out to Chosen Valley for the first time last week and caught up with Nat(Scratts) Marsh, was cool.
Just saying hi!