I have internet, BBC World (ENGLISH!!!!) before my eyes all the time (I must learn to multitask like my Uncle Shane) and here I am blogging again while sucking on the finest Ukrainian chocolate, just offered to me by my boss.
I am sure this time of complacency shall soon come to an end. Such times always do, thank goodness.
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The last two nights were excellent; on Wednesday I was invited to the dorm, and Inna had a bunch of people in her room, and she gave us tea and cookies. The company was excellent, and it was so nice to be able to go home without my clothes smelling like cigarette smoke. Thursday was exceptionally nice, and all I did was walk around with Alonia and her friends for two hours. I really like this group of girls; they're very easy and pleasant yet funny and bright. I want to think this is saying a lot, as I've yet to meet a girl I don't like, and very few guys that I don't. (And it's not that I don't like them, it's just that in the future I'll decline to be invited for a beer and then be told that I'd be paying for him and his other two friends, only to be spoken to about computer games I've never played and to be admonished for paying too much for my cellular phone. Yeesh. However, after they left, I switched to Dasha's table and spent the next hour chatting about literature and music. To be blunt, I'm not complaining.)
A few days ago I walked to Mazurych, a village next to Ostroh. It's beautiful there; there's a charm that's absent in bigger towns like Ostroh, and there's a stately, picturesque monastery. I intend to go back someday with a camera.
At the academy, I can now call myself a subsitute English teacher. I literally go in with a textbook and run the entire lecture. Well, with me, I try to keep things pretty light yet educational. To return to the subject of my Uncle, I heard from one of his students that he'd cited Sesame Street in a calculus lecture. The high point of my last lecture was when I was illustrating the difference between 'feel' and 'fell.' For feel, I put my hand on my heart and said a few things in Ukrainian like "I love Ukraine, the trees, the weather..." etc.; and for fell, I fell over sideways. It's my style. They want me back again, apparently. And we got a lot of learning done.
There're a few students that I feel really sorry for - typically the ones who are taking, say, Law or Ukrainian Culture (in Ukraine, you have to join a department right away and all the students in the department follow the same course schedule), and who don't speak any English. A certain level of English proficiency is required to advance and to graduate, and my heart went out to the poor girl who couldn't say "I like to cook," (or perhaps her friend was unwilling to prevail her into doing so) because she'll have to do much better than that to stay on her scholarship.
My buddy Vadim is going to Poland next week on some kind of sponsored program (incidentally, Dima is going to Poland on the same program as well, and he'll be in Krakow for two weeks), so he came by here earlier to give me the lesson plans for the classes I'm filling in. The difficulty to me is nothing to speak of, but it made me stop and think about the challenges facing... er, real subsitute teachers. They come in to a school and face up to eight different classes every day. You have to re-invent the wheel almost every time you go to work. If you're lucky, and if the teacher you're replacing is considerate and not too incapacitated, you might have a lesson plan to follow. But you still have to get to know the learning styles and other idiosyncracies of all your students.
Of course, I imagine it would be facinating to meet new people every day. Also, as far as getting to know people, all the subsitute teachers at my high school knew who I was. Unfortunately, this was not always due to my popularity. =) It was rare that a sub would call my name while taking attendance. Just, "and Will's here..."
On MSN today (say it with me, "spoiled"), I spoke to Ashley, which was refreshing. She's always so plesant and she always has something nice to say or some good news to share. Cedrick and Sophie are going to visit her in Vancouver next week, for two weeks. They're going to have so much fun; I'm really happy for them. I should like to take a run out to Vancouver myself someday (although it's also, ostensibly, in Canada, I want to remind my Eurasian friends that going from Halifax to Vancouver (driving distance: 6,050km) is not unlike going from ... ... well, even Lisbon to Istanbul is only 4,180km - wow, Europe is <cough> small. Uh, I mean, no small wonder. Yeah. =) ... anyway, I'd like to go to Vancouver someday to see my foster brother Carl again. He lived with my mom and dad in PEI back in the day, and it's been about twelve years since I've seen him. Gee, time flies... Anyway, he invited me to come see him, and so has Ashley, and between them and some relatives, I think that's enough to make up a visit! Unfortunately, getting there is expensive, but I hope to find a way when the time comes.
Also - and I'm just bouncing this out there as a possibility - I'm considering getting a UK Holidaymaker visa so that I can spend a few months in UK before I go back to Canada. Ideally I'd like to work in a hotel, but I can't see there being a huge demand for temporary hospitality employees in the dead of winter (January, when my obligations to this program cease). Then again, the weather in Wales in December '92 wasn't half bad. I still remember climbing the grassy hills behind Ogmore Vale (north of Bridgend - hey, wonderful, I have the #1 Google result for my misspelling "ogmorevale wales," so now everyone south of Hadrian's Wall knows I can't spell), wow, that was so much fun, and all I needed was a light jacket. We did all kinds of things outdoors. I remember touring the Welsh coast, climbing sand dunes, taking pictures in the Brecon Beacons... man, those were good times.
It's funny how easily my mind gets filled with everything but Ukraine at any given time. Sometimes I'll be walking up the main street on a sunny day, perhaps thinking of my Henry Street friends and their comings and goings, or maybe thinking about some insignificant event from my high school years, and then an ancient Lada will putter its way past me, and then I'll slap my forehead, smile and shake my head.
As I should do now. It's long past time for lunch.
Lovely. What's left of Opheila is headed for Nova Scotia. It might graze the area between Yarmouth and Lunenburg. Between Juan and Katrina, I'm not so inclined to laugh them off anymore.