Saturday, March 02, 2013


"All changes, even the most longed for, 
have their melancholy; 
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; 
we must die to one life before we can enter another." 
::Anatole France::

I am sorry to have left this blog so forgotten!

After living in Ukraine for 18 months, I returned to the US on December 14, 2012 and stayed with my family to celebrate Christmas and New Year's. In January, I moved to Arkansas to begin the next adventure! I am back in school taking pre-medical courses. It'll take around a year and a half to finish up all the pre-reqs, but then I'll be applying to medical school!

My life has been changing, and it is time that this blog changed with it. I'm still figuring out how this will work, but I'm planning to update this blog to my new adventure as a post-baccalaureate pre-med student. I'll leave all the posts from Ukraine able to be found, but they may be moved.

I'm thinking right now I'll be of course updating on life as a pre-med, but also sharing stories from Ukraine and things that are important to me.

If you have any ideas of what direction you think my blog should go, let me know what you'd like to hear!


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

::Thank You, America::

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, 
one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and 
justice for all."

I currently live in a place where the 4th of July is simply that...July 4, 2012, a day like any other. Even our American-style Independence Day party has been delayed until the 7th of July (crazy, I know!) for our Ukrainian friends and contacts.But the significance of the day is not lost on me. This is the second Independence Day that I have spent as an "expat;" an American living abroad. And I hope it's not my last.

If I was given the choice to live anywhere in the world, I wouldn't pick the United States. My dreams involve living abroad as much as possible. God has given me a heart for missions, and more specifically foreign missions. I want to live abroad, whether its full-time missions or vocational ministry. I would love to live in the United Kingdom, in a jungle in Nicaragua, on an island in the Pacific, in New Zealand, in a hut in Ghana, in the mountains of Tibet, everywhere in the EU, and all over the world.

I really don't plan on living the rest of my life in the US. In fact, I pray for God to give me opportunities not to live in the US.

The fact that I currently live in Ukraine qualifies me as an "expatriot," by the literal sense of the word: a person living in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing. And most likely, I will be an "expat" again in the future. However, I've never liked the term "expatriot," because it sounds like I've renounced my allegiance. My allegiance has not changed. Despite things I don't like about America, there are more things I am grateful for including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble. I can travel around the world and know that the US government will do what it can to protect me as a citizen.

I am proud to be an American.

Traveling opens my eyes to make me that much more grateful for freedom. So, as I celebrate this 4th of July while living in a country that only recently gained its own freedom, I want to say thank you.

Thank you, America, for all who have ever fought for my freedom, especially my own friends and family.

Thank you, America, for giving me freedom so that I can live all over the world. 

Thank you, America, for giving me the opportunity to live in Ukraine. I am so grateful to live here.

Thank you, America, for giving me opportunities in the past to travel to Nicaragua, Mexico, England, Ghana and Italy. Places I dream about seeing again.

Thank you, America, for fueling my dream to live and travel all over the world.

But most of all, thank you, America, for always welcoming me back home.

(credit to Bethany B)
Happy 4th of July.

Monday, July 02, 2012

::Three Days in Donetsk::

"A group is a bunch of people in an elevator. A team is also a bunch of people in an elevator, but the elevator is broken!" ::Bonnie Edelstein::

Last week, the five of us AIMers had to make a trip to Donetsk to fulfill part of our visa process. In order for us to remain in Ukraine, we must be registered. We were hopeful that all would be smooth sailing, but this is, after all, Ukraine. Instead of a quick one day trip, we were there for 3 days and on the third day we actually had to start the process over. We are still waiting to hear the final word on our registration.

The trip was at times very frustrating, because we never knew when we would get the ok to go home. We didn't take much stuff with us, so we made do with the little we had. We also had a whole lot of down time. In this case though, boredom bred creativity!

And so, without further ado, I present to you the world premiere of "Three Days in Donetsk"!
(I highly recommend you watch it full-screen!)

Please comment and let us know what you think! :)


Monday, June 18, 2012

::EURO 2012- Kharkov::

"Souls and bodies we'll lay down, all for our freedom,
And we will show that we, brothers, 
are of the Cossack nation!"
::Ukrainian National Anthem::

This month there is an international championship soccer tournament going on! Have you heard of it? Probably not, if you live in the US. It's the European Football (aka Soccer) Cup! And Ukraine is co-hosting the matches, along with Poland!

Kharkov, where I have lived for the past year, is one of the host cities of the EuroCup. It has been at times something laughable to imagine Ukraine hosting such an important international championship. Streets were torn up, buildings torn down, and ambitious projects started that had no chance of finishing in time. I even heard of a small village near Donetsk (another host city) that was closing its streets to visitors because they were so unprepared. Some of the changes here in Kharkov include English signs and announcements in the metro, new high-speed trains to the capital Kiev, and more miltia (police) than ever before.

However, as the fans began arriving this month, I have been happily surprised at the changes I've seen in the people of Kharkov! They have been so welcoming to foreigners. Smiles come more easily, and I have watched Ukrainians willingly struggle to communicate in English to help the fans. It is truly inspiring! There's been positive news reports, especially about Kharkov like this one: "Foreign Guests Blown off Their Feet in Ukraine".

I am so proud of the people of Ukraine! Experiencing the EuroCup, even as an outsider, has made me sentimental. Right now the world gets to see the best of Ukraine, and seeing through their eyes makes me love Ukraine more than ever!

Thanks to the EuroCup, I can share with you a few glimpses into my home: Kharkov, Ukraine.

A commercial for Ukraine during the EuroCup:
"Switch on Ukraine"

Here's a music video filmed completely in Kharkov!
"Welcome to Kharkiv!" by Anastasia Blinkova

And a short, funny commercial about Americans and the EuroCup in Ukraine:
"Euro 2012 Couple"
With Love from Ukraine,

Monday, April 23, 2012

::Orthodox Easter::

"Where, O death, is your victory? 
Where, O death, is your sting?"
::1 Corinthians 15:55::

As Orthodox Easter was a week ago, I thought I would share a post about Russian and Easter. If you weren't aware, Christian holidays fall on different days in the Orthodox calendar. When my Ukrainian friends ask me about when Christmas or Easter is in America, they identify it as from the Catholic calendar. Now I haven't done a lot of research into why these calendars are misaligned, but basically Orthodox holidays (including Christmas, New Year's and Easter) all fall exactly one week behind when they are traditionally celebrated in America.

For our worship assembly on Orthodox Easter, we invited families with children to come celebrate with a few American Easter traditions including an Easter egg hunt. For most Ukrainians, this was the first egg hunt they had ever been to! It was so much fun!

Ukrainian traditions for Easter are different. One thing that you hear everyone say is "Christ-os Vos-kress!" (Христос Воскрес!) It means "Christ is Risen!" On Easter, you can greet everyone this way, whether they are Christians, friends, religious, or even strangers, and they will reply with the phrase "Va-i-sti-nu Vos-kress!" (Воистину Воскрес!) meaning "He is Risen Indeed!"

Another interesting thing about Easter in Ukraine is Pas-ka! Easter bread/cake! It doesn't exactly have an English counterpart, so you can call it what you like :). As a friend explained to me, the word for Easter is only one letter difference from the word for Easter bread: Пасха (Easter) and Паска (Easter bread).

The bread/cake is in the shape of a giant cupcake (although they vary in sizes), usually with frosting and sprinkles on top. They are sold everywhere in the days before and after Easter, although every different Paska I tried was rather dry with raisins. Perfect with a cup of tea :). I really like them! If you're curious, here's a Paska Recipe.

Traditional Paska
Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter by waking up before the sun and lining up at a cathedral to have the priest bless them with holy water. A common sight on Easter was women in skirts with their heads covered by scarves (required for entry into an Orthodox church) carrying a basket full of Paska cakes. The priest would sprinkle holy water on the Paska to bless it, and then some of them would take the Paska to a graveyard and leave it on the grave of their loved ones.

I was personally given two different delicious Paska cakes from friends (one even home-made by her mother!). For me, celebrating Easter in Ukraine was another wonderful insight into Ukrainian culture, which is intrinsically Orthodox. Experiencing traditional holidays is definitely one of the most amazing things about living in a foreign culture.

Христос Воскрес!!!