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Living in Ukraine II

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It’s hard to deny that the act of living in another country, in another language, fundamentally changes you. Different parts of your personality sort of float to the top, and you take on qualities, mannerisms, and opinions that define the new people around you. And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s often part of the reason you left in the first place. You wanted to evolve, to change something, to put yourself in an uncomfortable new situation that would force you to into a new phase of your life.



Even just going to the grocery store — when in an exciting new place, when all by yourself, when in a new language — is a thrilling activity. And having to start from zero and rebuild everything, having to re-learn how to live and carry out every day activities like a child, fundamentally alters you.


And the most important part: while doing an EVS you get to know many people. Many different people, very often coming from different countries, different backgrounds and this is I think the most valuable part of EVS experience. Suddenly you can have friends everywhere, be able to stay at ‘friend’s place’ in any town in Europe, because you are all members of a great community, the EVS family. To me this a great thing and even though I was travelling quite a lot before my EVS, I only then understood how easy it can be, even when your budget is tight. EVS was a turning point for me in discovering Europe. And its inhabitants, because a town in a local’s eyes is always more interesting than when you visit it with a guidebook in your hand. I am still in touch with some people from my EVS and it doesn’t matter where we meet: whether it’s Madrid, Berlin or Warsaw.

Living in Ukraine I

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I was so focused on my project and trying to get by day to day – I literally tried to absorb all the moments as they happened and hold tight to those. Well, I guess now is a good time to take a break and write a bit about daily life in Ukraine, beginning with a photo of the bedroom I used to share with two other volunteers  from 10th of February till the 1st of June 2014.  It’s a good introduction to living there.

I loved that apartment. It was not cheaply updated and tacky like many of the apartments that locals might opt to recommend for foreigners. It had old wallpaper, antique furniture, and a distinct soviet character. It was renovated (but the unique style remained), well-equipped and capable to become „a home for me.

One of the things I noticed immediately is that most toilets in city apartments are separated from the bathroom  – so one can take a shower without blocking use of the toilet.

Continental winter might be very cold – we all know this. What I didn’t know is that the heat subsidized in the cities makes every apartment like an oasis to come home to. It was not uncommon for me to be walking around in a tank top and shorts during the winter months when I was at home in the apartment. But here is  a list of things that could happen on any given day and for which you just have to get used to. First of all, it’s not uncommon for the hot water (or all of it) to be shut off for a moment (some hours, one day, sometimes few days). If there were any sort of renovations in the building going on, you might see a tiny little sign on the entryway saying they were going to shut off the water – or you might not and it might just go off.  Second of all, in some houses the hot water is only available from the morning (about 7-8 AM) up to 10-11 PM.

I remember one morning waking up and it was -30 C outside. I went to go take a warm shower only to find that there was no hot water. I opted to just wash my hair that day. Having the water shut off on random occasions became a normal thing that I would just shrug my shoulders at and cheer when the faucet began to spout water again. 

Other things that became a regular occurrence, aside from the water being shut off, were things regularly breaking, especially the shower. We’ve had problems with every new shower head in the apartments we rented while traveling in  Ukraine. They would either break, or there was the one time we flooded the apartment below us in Kharkiv while doing laundry because we didn’t put the draining hose in the bathtub. Turns out this is also common in Ukraine but the apartment where I lived in Donetsk  had the hose drain through the sink, so I wasn’t aware of it. Like the water, sometimes the electricity would go off spontaneously and not come back on until the end of the day. And yes, in public bathrooms most people don’t clog the toilets with toilet paper (though I never really caught on to this). In fact, some public “toilets” are just squatty potties – porcelain bowls in the floor that you squat over. This is mostly common in train stations.

Being active is trendy

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Being active is a new tendency and we can easily notice that by checking a couple of new advertisements, that appeal to our activeness. We don’t want to be passive so in the morning we drink strong coffee and in the evening we turn on the light to stay active longer than the Sun is shining. Sometimes we also help ourselves with energy drinks to be more productive, when energy is running away. Active lifestyle is equally trendy. We climb, cycle, go to the gyms and swimming pools, we run the marathons and then post pictures in sportswear on facebook and vkontakte. We don’t wish to be out of this trendy active community.

Как понимать идеи неформального образования?

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Я предпочел бы развлекать и надеяться, что люди изучили что-то, чем обучать людей и надеятся, что их развлекли.  

Уолт Дисней 

Есть несколько ценностей и идеалов в мире, которые стоит распространять. Идея, которая имеет огромное значение для  меня – это идея неформального обучения.




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One of the directions of our work within the project is – education. But not in an obvious way. Our target was to educate in non-formal way, using non-formal methods. We decided that one of them will be a training.

There were always at least 1-2 trainings each month organized. Target group were adults of diversified background. We have done trainings for various institutions and groups, like students of Donetsk State University, Center of Professional Career, Regional School Of Volunteers, as well as for our NGO and anybody interested. Topics were leadership and motivation, creativity and imagination, CV, time management and the like.


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