How has it already been a year? Since I packed my bags, loaded them into the car and flew away from Seattle. Since I hugged my sisters and parents for the last time. Since I had my last Chipotle burrito bowl (RIP to the half a burrito bowl I threw away in the airport in D.C.). Since I had my last Pumpkin Spiced Latte (yeahhh I know I’m basic, can I live?). Since I saw my dog, hiked a mountain, saw my friends, DROVE A CAR.
Some of these things are silly, but some are pretty serious. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been in Ukraine for a year already, but here we are. As much as I’ve missed out on at home, I wouldn’t change a thing. This has been the most incredible adventure. I’ve moved four times, I’ve taught countless lessons, had a ton of English clubs, travelled all over this adopted country I call home. I can’t even begin to use this as any sort of recap of my year first as a Peace Corps Trainee and then as a fully-fledged Peace Corps Volunteers. I wouldn’t do it any sort of justice.
I’ve eaten too much. Danced too much. Laughed an unhealthy amount. Made some incredible friends.
My first family in Ukraine had the twin goals of fattening me up and marrying me off. They were largely successful in the former and not successful regarding the latter. I love them. They were my first home here in Ukraine and I will always be great full for the way they welcomed me into their home and their family. Natasha, Volodomir, Babusya and their various cats, dogs and chickens completely have my heart.
My second home in Ukraine was the incredible fab 5. My cluster got me through the awful and awesome days of PST. I loved spending time with them and the other volunteers in and around Chernihiv. Only now can I realize what a unique and lucky time that was to live in this cool unique community where we were all experiencing different things, but getting the chance to grow and learn with one another.
I’m great full for the lifelong friends I made during PST. Then came site visit, I saw my new home for the first time, met my new students for the first time and rode on an overnight train for the first time. It felt like Harry Potter at first, the novelty has since worn off.
When swearing in came up a few weeks later, it was the most bittersweet thing of my life. I was incredibly happy to be done with PST and incredibly proud of myself and my friends of everything we had accomplished, but I didn’t feel ready to say goodbye yet.
I arrived at site and celebrated holidays, had school breaks, watched Netflix during quarantine, explored Ukraine, had English clubs, organized my own camp and helped out at a bunch more, went to the mountains and the beach, melted on busses and trains, spent time with volunteers all over Ukraine and celebrated many things that make this country beautiful.
What a year it’s been and I can’t wait to see what the next has in store.