Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goodbye America!

I am on my way to getting close to almost being ready. Staging is on Thursday, in Arlington (ten anti-climactic minutes away), and then we fly out of Dulles on Saturday at 4:30, to Frankfurt and then to Kiev. I am going to Ukraine more technologically advanced than I have ever been in my life, which seems ironic given the Peace Corps circumstances; I have a "flash drive," I have 3,528 songs after copying every CD in the house to my laptop, and I will (hopefully) even learn how to "back up" tomorrow . . .

I have two huge bags, one teetering around the 50 lb. limit, and the other around 40 lbs, but I can't fit anything else in without breaking the zipper. My carry-on is kind of intense, am attempting to squeeze every book, random photo and leftover item into it, along with my computer . . . but only enough liquid items to fit inside of a quart-sized bag. People on the various list-serves are complaining about having 30 lb. bags . . so we'll see how well the Ukrainian gender roles stand up when men are called upon to help me.

Speaking of Ukrainian facts, here are some quick ones from former PCV Ken Bossong:

"1.) People in Ukraine are much poorer than Americans. The average American family earns about $30,000/year but the average Ukrainian familyearns about $1,000/year.

2.) There are very few fast-food stores in Ukraine -- only about 75 McDonalds throughout the whole country. There are no Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's, Wendy's, Roy Rogers,or other such stores in Ukraine. . . .

6.) Most people in Ukraine speak either Ukrainian or Russian or both. However, most Ukrainian students begin to learn a foreign language whenthey are 7 or 8 years old and it is usually English. So many Ukrainian students can usually speak more languages than American students can. . . .

9.) Ukrainian women never shake hands with men -- it's one of the customs here. Also, at parties, if adults are drinking wine or other types ofalcohol, women usually do not pour the drinks -- only men are supposed to do that.

10.) When Ukrainians visit each other, it is the custom to take one's shoes off when coming into another person's house. Sometimes, people bring their own slippers with them and put them on when come into a friend's home.

11.) It is very common for Ukrainians to give each other flowers when they visit one another or on special occasions. For birthdays, Ukrainians will often give a person a single rose with a very long stem. However, it's considered very bad luck to give someone an even number of flowers (i.e.,2, 4, 6, etc.) so Ukrainians are careful to count the number of flowers when they buy them. . . .

20.) Ukrainian students are taught to be very respectful towards their teachers and usually stand up whenever the teacher walks into the room. They also ask fewer questions in the classroom and wait for the teacher to ask them to answer something before talking. Teachers are usually called"Pon" or "Pona" (which means "Mr." and "Ms.") but with their first name, not their last name (e.g., Mr. Ken)."

So! That's where I'm headed. But as for where I've been, I've had a very nice couple of weeks saying goodbye to everyone (it was nice even though it was sad), and I had a great goodbye party on Saturday night.

I will miss everyone a lot - thank you to everyone who's come to say goodbye!! One volunteer mentioned in an e-mail that Ukrainians love to see our pictures from home, and will remember names and details - so remember, if you make it over in the next 27 months, you'll have fans waiting.

Love you all!! Keep in touch, and I will see you in 27 months with two more languages to talk to you in.


At September 27, 2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Gigi said...

Oh Virginia. I miss you already.
At least you don't know too many Gigis so
that shouldn't be a big problem! Have a safe trip!

If you didn't get a chance (which I'm sure is very possible) I can send you pictures (already expertly cut haha) to add the end of your personal portable photo album/scrapbook type thing I made you. I don't know what to call it. But it's portable! haha
let me know :)

At September 29, 2006 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Virginia,

I shall miss thee muchos, and once I have an address for you to write me at I shall post it here for you, so that we may practice, wish me luck in finding a place! I will light the Virgin de Guadelupe candle for you tonight!!


At September 29, 2006 10:16 PM, Blogger Virginia said...

Thank you both :) Yeah, Gig, I did print out about twenty pictures last minute, but not sure if they'll make it into the scrapbook (and certainly not expertly cut) . . so send me whatever you like :) . . . and Kristina te escribire en espanol en cualquiera manera que puedo, to keep up my mediocre ability . . . take care! (as my two-year old neighbor Owen would say)


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