Thursday, March 31, 2016

Live from Berezhany!

Although I have a few more days left before I head home from Ukraine, I wanted to make sure I posted from here in Berezhany, the city in western Ukraine my sister has been living for the past year as a Peace Corps volunteer. She also served here in 2013-14, but had to leave earlier than planned because of the violence and instability that affected the country in early 2014. It's been a tremendous blessing for her to have been able to come back and finish her service, even a year later than originally planned.

I'm here as she winds down her time here (officially finishes in early June) so I can meet many of the people she has been telling us about for so long and to see the many sights here in Berezhany and in the rest of the country. I arrived in Kyiv (aka "Kiev") back on March 21st and have also visited Lviv and Ternopil before arriving here in Berezhany on March 27. Overall it has been a tremendous experience. Just today as I was walking up a somewhat steep hill here in town, I thought about back when Katie (my sister) first got assigned to Ukraine and I wished I could come visit but knew it could never really happen given my financial and work situations. It's amazing how things work out and opportunities are presented. In my case, it was a grandmother with airline miles she couldn't use and a brother who helped with some of the extra fees and even gave us some spending money for a combined Christmas and birthday present. Added to that, the Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH) dropped in value comparable to the US dollar (currently around 26 UAH to 1 dollar), so I haven't had to spend a lot of money on much of anything here, especially food and souvenirs. For instance, yesterday we had lunch at a nice restaurant in town. We both had a fair amount of food and drinks and the total for both of us combined came out to around $4.71 on my bank statement. Even our hotel rooms and transportation have been ridiculously inexpensive once the conversion is made. My schedule back home also worked out with me gone for 2 weeks. Again, just a lot of things have come together for this to happen the way it has.

Katie is quite popular, especially when she has gum and/or stickers to pass out!
Tomorrow we head back to Kyiv by train via Ternopil for a few more days of sightseeing (we only spent a day in Kyiv before), and then my flight leaves early Monday morning. As nice as it always is to get home after a long trip, I will definitely miss Ukraine. It's a beautiful country with a rich history, beautiful scenery and architecture, and wonderful people. I hope I can come back to this place again sometime!

Я люблю Україну, але особливо Бережани! (I love Ukraine, but especially Berezhany!)

No comments: