So today on my day off, I found myself making the trip to Kiev for the third time in less than three weeks. Why, you might ask? Because I have a freaking ear infection. I felt it coming on Friday, but when I woke up Saturday I knew it wasn’t going to go away. So after class on Saturday I called the Peace Corps doctor and told him I thought I had an ear infection, and could I please take the antibiotics in my medical kit? (When we arrived in Ukraine, the Peace Corps issued us deluxe medical kits, complete with every type of medicine under the sun, bandaids, sutures, sunblock, tweazors, condoms, you name it, it was in there! Some other day I’ll blog about sex education in the Peace Corps… it’s a great story.)
So the doctor was very nice, and he said it sounded like I had an ear infection, but he couldn’t diagnose it without seeing me in person. So today I made yet another trip to Kiev. On the upside, I’m going to be very familiar with Kiev’s public transportation systems! To get to Kiev I need to take a bus to Chernihiv, where I catch a marshrutka (like a microbus) that takes me to the metro on the outskirts of Kiev, which I ride downtown. Then Peace Corps headquarters is only a 10-15 minute walk from there, so its not a bad trip.
I also had company for my trip to Kiev. Kacey, a Peace Corps Volunteer who lived with my host family in the spring during her training, came back to visit for the weekend. It was great to meet her, and one of the girls she trained with also came back to visit Kolychivka. So it was nice to ask them about their Peace Corps experiences thus far, and they had lots of fun stories to share. Jackie (the other volunteer) had really cool dreadlocks, and I was envious of how low-maintenance they are. She definitely rocked the dreadlock look; they didn’t look nasty or smell or anything. And for a a few minutes, I thought how nice it would be to have hair that didn’t require any effort. But I like my hair most days, and I really am turned off by the fact that you have to cut off your dreadlocks when you get sick of them. You can’t just take them out when you’re tired of the look—you have to cut all your hair off! I don’t think I’m that brave : ) But I really would like to change my hair, so I’m thinking about dying it. Any color suggestions? (And Tori, I already know you’re going to say red. I’m that good : P)
The best part about Kacey’s visit was dinner with Anya and Victor and Kacey Friday night. Anya spent the whole day cooking and cleaning, and she even told me to go clean my room because she didn’t want Kacey to think I was a slob. (Haha—too bad I am!) I got home from school just in time for dinner, so I barely had time to meet Kacey before we sat down to eat. Anya asked us to speak in Ukrainian during the meal, and then we could have the rest of the night to get acquainted in English. And I’m glad she mentioned it! Usually I have no choice but to speak Ukrainian at home, because no one speaks English. But with Kacey there it would have been easy to lapse into English when I didn’t know the right word in Ukrainian. But it wouldn’t have been polite to our hosts to use English, so I’m glad she reminded us to just use Ukrainian : ) And it was a very satisfying feeling, when I got through the whole meal in Ukrainian! It was also bizarre to realize how much Ukrainian I knew; I could ask Kacey where her site was, what she does at her site (she’s doing a Youth Development project, so her work is different than mine), and what her life was like back in the states. I felt like I already had asked all the important questions by the time dinner was over! Usually I’m just frustrated by how many Ukrainian words I don’t know, so it was nice to pause and reflect on how far my Ukrainian could get me. It also made me hopeful that I know enough Ukrainian to survive on my own at my site : )
So today Kacey and Jackie were headed back to their sites, and they had to go to Kiev to catch the train to their city. So we took the marshrutka to Kiev together, and then I headed to PC headquarters to see the doctor. I was early for the appointment, so I hung out in the lounge and took advantage of the wireless internet : ) I also got to meet some current volunteers, but they were all excited about going home for Christmas next month and it just ended up making me sad thinking about how I’ll be here instead of at home. But finally the doctor arrived and it took him less than 10 minutes to look at my ear and tell me I did indeed have an ear infection. He said he wasn’t sure why, as I wasn’t congested or sick in any other way, but my ear was inflamed and he gave me ear drops and antibiotics, in case I ran out of the ones in my medical kit.
I found my way back to Kolychivka fairly smoothly, except for the part where I had to tell the bus driver to let me off at my village. First he was confused that I was speaking Ukrainian (instead of Russian, which he spoke), and then once he realized I was a foreigner, he was really confused about why I would want to get off the bus in the middle of nowhere. He told me we weren’t to the city of Chernihiv yet, but I told him I lived in the village and really wanted to get off. I don’t think he believed me, but at least he stopped the bus and let me get off : )
As soon as I got home and told Anya what the doctor said, she insisted on taking the drops and being in charge of their administration; I just chuckled and went along with it. If it makes her feel better about it, why not? Then my real Mom called to ask what the verdict was, and I told her about having an ear infection with no other symptoms besides pain in my ear. She asked if I had any nausea, and I remembered that I felt sick to my stomach Friday before the actual pain in my ear started. She said it was probably swimmer’s ear, and when she said that all the dots connected. I tried to bucket shower last Thursday, and ended up getting water everywhere trying to get the stupid shampoo out of my hair. At some point I even swallowed some on accident, so I know there’s a good chance that’s how I get water in my ear. It was nice having the mystery solved : ) Moms are so smart! How do they know all the answers?
My bucket shower experience wasn’t fun, but the water was so cold that I didn’t want to submerge my whole body. At least now I know how the general concept works so I can do it if I have to at my site. Before coming to Ukraine, I thought a bucket shower was where you stand in a stall, and water in a container above you, naturally heated by the sun, comes out when you pull on the cord. You can’t use much water, but its very similar to an actual shower. Well, in Ukraine, a bucket shower is where you stand in a tub, and use a cup to pour water from a bucket over your head and body. You put cold water in the bucket from the sink, and in order to heat it, you pour a kettle or two of hot water into the bucket, so the end result is tepid water (if you’re lucky). And then it takes tons of cupfuls of water to get your hair completely wet, and even more cupfuls to get all the shampoo out. And the rest of your body freezes while you stand there. (Can you understand why I would consider dreadlocks after this experience? I could save tons of time washing my hair! I could avoid bucket showers! I could look so bad-ass! lol). So my first bucket shower experience resulted in an ear infection; this is a bad sign. Hopefully I’ll get better with practice. For the rest of my time in Kolychivka, I’m just going to enjoy the actual shower in my house. Its not worth the hassle to bucket shower—if my site only has a bucket shower, I’ll figure out how to master it then!
So I’m back in my village and it’s late Sunday night. This week coming up is going to busy! Its my last week teaching at the school here. On Wednesday, I have a “Demo Lesson,” where I’m rated on how well I teach and whether I’ll make a good English teacher in the Ukrainian education system. I’m not too worried because most of my lessons have gone really well; the fifth grade is easy to teach because they are so eager to learn! Then on Thursday Andrew and I teach together for our last class, and we want to do something fun that the students will remember. I don’t know what yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes : ) Thursday is also Thanksgiving, and me and my cluster-mates are cooking and getting together to celebrate. I don’t know what I’m going to cook yet, but I’m glad we’re doing something even though it’s not a holiday that is celebrated in Ukraine.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all… eat some turkey for me : )