We’re not in Kansas anymore…

One weekend when I was sitting at Heathrow to fly back to Paris, I received a phone call from my Dad. He offered to come with me to Ukraine so that I could “have some company” on the journey to my new home. Any desire that I may have had to come across as brave and independent gave way to massive relief.

Last Tuesday, having met at Heathrow at 6am, we flew in over snowy fields to Kiev in the north of Ukraine. The excessive politeness of the British Airways stewards and freely flowing cups of tea were our last tastes of the UK before being met with swarms of aggressive taxi drivers in the arrivals hall. I was very keen for my Dad to get a good impression of the place, and to understand why I had chosen to come back to Ukraine, which was not particularly helped by the thick layer of grey snow which covered the run-down apartment blocks and the grey fog (you can see that grey is a theme) that hung in the sky on our drive into the centre of the city. Once we had navigated our way through a maze of underground tunnels at the train station to the left luggage, we set off for Майдан Незалежності (wooo get me and my Ukrainian) or Independence Square. The last time I was here we were able to watch the recording of a TV show consisting of huge group dances by teams from various Ukrainian cities. 

Unfortunately this time there were no dancers, but instead a huge Christmas tree and some beautiful lights. 

Even if we did come dangerously close to falling flat on our faces, braving the icy pavements was worth it. Whilst we were in town we also paid a visit to St Michael’s Monastery and the Saint Sophia Cathedral, which Jamie, Mollie, Rhiannon, Penelope and I had loved when we spent a short time in Kiev nearly two years ago. 


Now: slightly less hyper.

Here is my Dad looking generally cold and somewhat mysterious.

After a great dinner (one of the many plus points to having a parent around) we went back to the station for the overnight train to Odessa on the Black Sea. The cabin was really cute but SO HOT. Like Greece in August has nothing on that cabin. 

But we eventually arrived and met my boss and landlady at my flat which was a welcome surprise; despite being in a, shall we say, ‘aesthetically-challenged’ tower block, it is clean and warm and certainly bigger than the flat I shared in Paris, not to mention less than half the price.

What a view!

Bedroom. I make use of the space by dancing to the very high quality Russian music channels.

I started teaching English on Thursday, which seems to be going okay (touch wood), but my Dad and I had some time to have a wander about until he left on Thursday to go back to Kiev. It was so lovely to share this exciting but frankly bloody terrifying time with him. Big love to Papa. Since then I have enjoyed various drinks outings, a shocking amount of dumpling-based meals and a wonderful church service in a disused factory! Here are some photos and anecdotes from over the last few days:

Here is my church! Seriously 🙂  it’s a disused factory with loads of big rooms that get rented out by different groups, one of which happens to beЖивая Надежда” (Living Hope) Church. It’s a bilingual church with some lovely people! This said, perhaps my favourite part of going to church this Sunday was getting shouted at by the fairly drunk security guard (this wasn’t the good bit) who was then told to shut up by a passing old lady wearing a magnificent fur hat. Respect. 

For some unknown reason there are no switches for the lights in my corridor, which makes opening the door with multiple keys a slight issue. But no fear, for I am equipped with a torch, and not just any torch, but what appears to be some kind of wind-up vampire penguin.

I don’t have any photos of my students, but they have all been lovely so far. There were lots of questions about whether I have met the Queen (expected) and twice I have been told that I “no look like British woman”. Apparently I look like I could be “native American” “Indian” or “Asian” (less expected). Take your pick.

To finish off, here is an enormous crisp.

What left can there be to see, I hear you say.


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