I officially accepted my invitation today. I would have done it sooner, but I wanted to read over the required material before accepting. I couldn’t do that because it was delivered to my parents house, so my mom offered to bring it up today.
After reading over the Welcome Book, I’ve come to realize a few things that I hadn’t expected to be the case.
First off, I jokingly said that I’d ship my motorcycle out to the Ukraine to ride around on or that I’d buy one while over there. That won’t be the case because whoever wrote the manual sounds like they knew what I was thinking. It essentially says I’m not allowed to ship to, purchase or operate a automobile or motorcycle in the Ukraine. Dammit. Sorry Amy, we’ll have to get around Europe in less style when you visit.
Second is my monthly stipend. Each month I’m alloted roughly 200UAH and $24. With the current conversion rate, that’s roughly 400UAH or $50. The $24 is not intended as a living allowance; I think it’s referred to as a Vacation Allowance. This amount is determined to be the living wage for the native secondary education teachers. Could you live on $50/month? $25? I did the math, I’m getting a paycheck for a website that would allow me to live at this level in the Ukraine for three years. That puts things into perspective.
Next, I made a purchase using some of my graduation money from my parents, with their encouragement. I bought myself a Kindle. As each day goes by, it’s proving to be the most valuable purchase I could make prior to Peace Corps in the Ukraine.
First off, I wanted it as a reading device. The best part about that is the vast library of public domain books, many of which I’ve wanted to read for a while. I can take hundreds of books with me for 8.4oz in my luggage.
Second, it has a web browser so I can stay updated on current events and connected with my friends and family as long as I’m in a cellphone covered area (I checked, the Ukraine doesn’t have 3G but it has near complete coverage with the older Edge network which is slower but still grants internet access). I’ll utilize GoogleMaps and location technology like no other because I have a very poor sense of direction.
Lastly, out of the list of things to bring for service, the Kindle fulfills many of the items. It, as of today, has a few games. I can download cookbooks. I can use it to view pictures (with a very minor hack). I can use it as an MP3 player. I’m also seriously considering making my first purchase when I get it as an English-Ukrainian dictionary. There are other uses but those are the main ones.
The next part wasn’t something that I wasn’t expecting, it was just something that I had been wanting to know. “The Ukrainian diet relies heavily on meat, potatoes, beets, onions and cabbages in the winter.” I have no problem with that except for the beets. It’s not that I don’t like beets; it’s that I’ve never eaten beets (that I’m aware of). I’ve resolved to spend the next few weeks getting myself accustomed to beets. Anyone out there with recipes?
Lastly, the climate. From what I can tell, it’s roughly the same as Wisconsin. There’s a chance that it’s milder. I read somewhere that the average temperature in the coldest month is 32°F and 75° in the warmest. However, the Welcome Book describes the winters as long and cold. Honestly, I’ve lived through Wisconsin winters, what could be worse? See Tougher in Wisconsin. There was a small, yet important, line regarding winter clothing and me. The line read something like, “it isn’t acceptable to wear military clothing.” If you don’t know me personally in the winter, then you don’t know that I wear a heavy US Army jacket for warmth. Looks like I’m getting a new coat in the Ukraine.
All that being said, I think I learned something today about both the Ukraine and about what I’ll be doing while I’m there. More on that later.