Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Back in the saddle again

Well, well, well, here I am, back in Lviv after my summer of wandering. Wasn't so much wandering, I guess, just spent a month organizing an English summer school in semi-mountainy, rural Ukraine, came back for a week, then flew off to France (first time there!) to visit Marie-Aude's home in Cannes (very peaceful and lovely and Mediterranean-y), to be An American in Paris (not quite like in the movies, but still nice :), and finally to trek to Cologne, Germany for the 20th World Youth Day, the first one with our new Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Basically, summer was nice, but I haven't been able to catch my breath long enough to realize the beauty of it. Decided instead of staying in Lviv and teaching and doing other odd bits around UCU this semester (which promised to look much the same as last semester), I would seek an opportunity to fully immerse myself in Ukrainian culture and language, and move to a village. We're still working out the details, but hopefully I will be spending October thru the first half of December in Maria's sister's village, living with her family, throwing myself into learning the language, milking cows, learning how to make verenicke and embroidered shirts, and probably helping in some capacity at the local school. We'll see what actually happens, but that is what I think I would like to happen :). Difficult, yes, but time to stop sitting on the fence, half hanging on to western culture and trying to live like a westerner as much as possible, which, I think, basically means I've missed a lot of "real" Ukrainian-ness. Might be a romantic ideal, but who knows -- I am dating someone from the Ukrainian diaspora, and they're supposed to be more Ukrainian than the actual Ukrainians, so maybe I can get away with living in a slightly idealized version of Ukraine.

Right, dating someone. Yup, wonderful Ukrainian-British bloke (British is important, though he would rather forget that part of himself, because without it we doubtfully would have gotten together since we wouldn't have been able to communicate!), been in Lviv just about as long as I have, been on sabbatical from his IT job at a university near London, teaching English and doing IT stuff here. Funny how life gets you going, thinking you've got things under control, and then WHAM throws a curveball in there and laughs as you fumble with it for awhile....

On the home front, I'm a great aunt at 27. My brother's stepson's wife had a beautiful baby boy. Congratulations, Vito and Christine!

So, it's fall in Lviv, tourists are leaving and students are returning. Not such a different feeling than late August in Madison (minus the Polish and Russian tourists). Been good to see so many of my friends again who were gone so much this summer. But strange, too, because I'm realizing that last semester was last semester, and no matter what this one will be different. Funny how it seems like I just got here....