You Know Its Cold When…

School is cancelled, not due to snow but due to the temperature! This week my school had three “freeze” days where school was cancelled, because the temperatures were below -25 Celsius every day (about -15 Fahrenheit!). Other schools in the area had the whole week off, but my school only took off Wednesday-Friday. I’m not complaining though, three days at home plus the weekend was plenty of time for me to be completely lazy and get bored with the idea of staying home every day. But the weather was so bad I didn’t want to leave my apartment either, so towards the end I was going a little stir crazy.

You might ask what I accomplished with all this free time, but sadly, the answer is not much. I spent oodles of time on Skype (which is time well spent, in my opinion!), did a little more research on the “life after Peace Corps” chapter (which commences in 8 months!), and caught up on my favorite guilty pleasure, the TV show Dexter. I recently acquired the whole fifth season, which was guess-starring Julia Stiles, and it was such a good season that I ended up watching the whole thing… in less than three days. In my defense, I had nowhere else to be! And it was really hard to put down : ) I was really impressed with the character development of the fifth season, but I guess when you go through a whole season in 3 days, you notice a lot more about a show then you would if you spaced out the episodes to one a week, like you do when you watch it on T.V. But I would definitely say that season 5 of Dexter is the best season yet, hands down.

As for the online research, I found a really useful website with information about grad schools that have a special relationship with Peace Corps and offer RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) top priority. I was mostly focusing on the degrees in law and international development, but one program caught my eye sheerly out of location—HAWAII! The program is for a doctorate in Cultural and Community Psychology at the University of Hawaii, and takes five years to finish, but offers really interesting specialties such as Conflict Resolution or Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance. Plus, part of the program is built-in graduate research in New Zealand at the University of Victoria, so I’d get to live in Hawaii AND New Zealand! I could see myself applying for this program just for the locations ; ) That and I really loved the psychology classes I took in undergrad, so this isn’t a huge stretch for me. I need to modify my list of potential plans for life after Peace Corps to include this!

And the last way I’ve been enjoying my “freeze” days is by planning a trip for Spring Break—one that gets me out of this siberian winter and onto a beach! Its my way of getting back at the wintry weather… I sit here in my apartment, all bundled up and as close to the heater as possible, plotting my trip to Egypt and shaking my fist at this Ukrainian winter that seems determined to wear me down. I thought it’d be easier, knowing this is my last winter in Ukraine, but the weather here has definitely got me down. And unfortunately, my spring break destination is not complying with my travel plans. The news from Egypt has been pretty dismal, with reports of kidnapped tourists and more protests. But my friend (and former room-mate from when I lived in Cairo in 2009) Becca, who currently lives in Cairo, said that the protests are just a result of the one year anniversary of the uprising, and an expression of the people’s disappointment with the limited progress that has been made since Mubarak was overthrown. She’s keeping an eye on the situation and I’m holding off on buying a ticket until March, but she feels quite safe where she lives in Cairo and I know this is probably my last chance to get back to Egypt and visit her and my Egyptian friends before my Peace Corps service ends. So I’m trying to make a wise choice, while I feel like my heart already committed to going. Well, for now I’m waiting and praying a trip there will be not only possible, but safe : )

One option for the trip would be spending most of our time out of the city, most likely in the little town of Dahab on the Red Sea. Becca and I traveled there in 2009 and went snorkeling, because Dahab is world-famous for its coral reef and the “Blue Hole” dive site. And if we stayed in Dahab, we’d be far from any protests or danger in Cairo… plus, we’d fulfill my beach requirement ; ) Another option is visiting our Siwan friend Ismail, who lives in the desert oasis of Siwa, a 12-hour bus ride away from Cairo and in the middle of the Sahara desert. Siwa’s an incredible little town, untouched by time and full of fun things to do. Ismail really wants us to visit and promised to arrange everything, so that’s an option too.

But for now, all I can do is sit in my apartment and stew, longing for better weather and for an end to this miserable winter. I hope you’re staying warm, wherever you are!

All my love.

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