It’s hard to believe that I’ve been traveling for one week already! On Sunday, June 23rd, I departed from Newark Airport and arrived in Venice on June 24th. I spent the day exploring the city, enjoying vegan lasagna and vegan gelato (two things I shouldn’t have eaten b/c of my stomach), and relaxing in the charming streets. A day later, I flew to Warsaw and then sprinted through the airport to make my connection to Lviv. While I luckily made my connection, my luggage did not which left me in Lviv with the clothes on my back, my wallet, phone, and purse. I couldn’t help but laugh because there is never a day in Ukraine without an adventure!
That night, I borrowed a t-shirt and toothpaste from my friend and bought a toothbrush from the grocery store for 50 cents. I called the airline the next morning to ask for an update about my luggage. They told me that “some” luggage arrived last night, but they didn’t know if mine was included. They said if it was, it would delivered in “one hour, in the evening, or in the afternoon”. I hung up the phone laughing at the typical Ukrainian ambiguity and called my insurance company thinking that there was no way I was ever going to see my luggage again.
To my surprise, my luggage arrived within the hour! I was so quick to take my luggage that the deliveryman thought someone stole my suitcases and called the police! Like I said, there isn’t a day in Ukraine without an adventure. While I was grateful to have my belongings again, I was reminded that “stuff” doesn’t matter. What matters are the relationships, beauty (including beautiful sunrises and sunsets), and life surrounding us each day.
After changing out of the outfit that I had been wearing for 24 hours, I went into the city with the new and returning teachers. We enjoyed walking around the old city, visiting markets, and eating yummy food & chocolate. I was able to find a vegan veggie sandwich and a latte with rice milk! I also found rice milk in a store so I stocked up on that! My favorite part of the day was buying a Ukrainian “vyshyvanka” which is a traditional embroidered top.
The next day, we had a late start and explored the city again. Since we had already been last year, we took our time walking around and spent the afternoon sitting at a cafe. After, I met up with one of my students from last year. He took me to the Jazz Festival which happens every year in Lviv. It was cool to experience something I didn’t get to experience last year!
After having fun and recovering from jet lag, we settled down and attended orientation Friday and Saturday. The days were very long, but informative. Since I was on campus the whole day, I got to see some of my old students which made me so happy. We also went on a walking tour of Lviv. Our tour guide introduced himself and told us that he completed a Fulbright in the United States. I told him that I would be completing Fulbright in Ukraine and he gave me some great advice! What a small world to meet another Fulbrighter in a city 4000 miles away from home!
Tomorrow, we depart for the village where we will be teaching. There are 33 volunteer teachers and about 200 students. I am so excited to meet the students and can’t wait to see what this year will bring! Thank you for continuing to pray for me and my health!