Well, we’ve been in Kyiv (at least me and the boys) for a full week so I thought I’d take a moment to post some initial thoughts and experiences about our new country. I think what best sums it up is that I feel like Annie when she sings, “I think I’m gonna like it here!”
In Dakar, I was terrified and lost, afraid to venture out in a foreign country, especially with a little one-year-old attached to my side. While I think the fear will always be there when you arrive in a new country, it was a little easier (at least for week 1) this time around probably because of a little more experience and differences between the countries. First fear-freak-out this time: On our second full day, John Philip had an interview at his new school. We have no car, so Brian arranged for someone from the Embassy to take us to the school. For a couple of reasons I won’t go into detail here (lack of communication on rules I understand and agree with but was not told about ahead of time), we were left stranded at the school. Just to give you a sense on the distance, Google told me that the walk from the school to where we were staying was over 2 hours. Needless to say I had a mini-melt down. I contemplated using the metro but wasn’t sure about getting tokens and reading signs all in a foreign language. Plus, there was a 20 minute walk (probably longer with Matty’s small legs) to the metro and 20 more minutes from the metro stop closest to our temporary home and I wasn’t sure how well that was going to go with the kids. Luckily, Brian and the administrative assistant came through and found us a taxi (we should only take taxis the embassy has approved of for use and at the time I wasn’t sure if the number I found for one of them was the right taxi company). The taxi driver spoke some English (yay!), the car was clean with working seat belts and no holes at the bottom of the car (as was sometimes the case in Dakar), and the quoted price was exactly what we paid (yay! – no negotiating a price in a foreign language).
The rest of the week was filled with many positives. On the third day, we moved into our new apartment. The exterior of the apartment building is beautiful and the interior of our apartment is just gorgeous. I kept walking around our apartment thinking, “Wow, am I really living here for the next 4 years?” Then, several hours later our UAB arrived which means we had some of our things to unpack into our new home. John Philip and I took a taxi to his school for the open house and braved the metro back. We were dying of thirst by the time we started our 25-minute walk to the metro and luckily I remembered the Russian word for pharmacy and water. We managed to buy a bottle of water for the last half of our walk to the metro. We couldn’t always understand the announcements on the metro and the stations didn’t always have signs on them, but we knew we had to get off at the 8th stop and found ourselves at home 20 minutes later. That night the boys and I had McDonalds which is just around the corner behind our building. They spoke English there which meant I didn’t have to worry about figuring out how to mime “Happy Meal”. An even bigger plus…the menu items (pictures) looked similar to the US and the food tasted like US food. A nice way to spoil yourself when you’re in a foreign country!
I think the highlight for me this week (aside from our wonderful apartment located in downtown and at a metro station) was trying a Ukrainian restaurant. The food was delicious and even John Philip who has been our picky eater for years loved his food (dumplings with potato and smoked bacon – though, really how can anything not taste good with bacon?). But the absolute best…the honey cake. I told Brian when we leave here in 4 years, I already know what I’m going to miss…it will be that cake. I even nominated the honey cake as a birthday week treat. Though…that’s in July…I have to eat more before then!