Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Odyssey in Odessa

While I've been home sick almost the entire month of August with African parasites and a random sinus infection, my boyfriend has been having an incredible time living with a host family in Odessa, Ukraine, studying Russian. I think I am especially jealous for two reasons: 1) I had an amazing summer studying abroad in Granada, Spain, living with my host mother, Esperanza, and 2) He is living on the beach and its sunny and warm. His host family is making a strong effort to make sure Kent feels like one of the family and gets the entire post-Soviet experience. His very adorable host little brother sometimes even bursts into the room when we are having our nightly FaceTime conversations. I try to ask him different questions in English but he just responds with "Da." I think my Russian is improving as a result. I now know that "Da" means "Yes."

Kent studies Russian for several hours each day and then goes on excursions organized by the language school to learn about the city's history and culture. Part of that cultural experience includes meeting with local young women to practice speaking, which he doesn't think is weird. I am totally comfortable with it though, its not like Ukraine is known for beautiful women like Mila Kunis and Milla Jovovich or that The Guardian called Odessa one of the principal hubs for the international sex trade.

Odessa is currently the third largest city in Ukraine with a population of roughly one million. Although the architecture of the city is European with Art Noveau, Classicist and Renaissance buildings, Kent says there is no escaping the fact that it was a former Soviet territory and that people there make do with very little space and money. For more information on what to see and do in Odessa, Travel and Leisure just happened to publish this piece in July.

I look forward to putting my Russian (pretty much the use of the word "Da") to use when Kent and I rendezvous in Ukraine's capital city Kiev this weekend. Kent is interested in visiting Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 explosion and fire that released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, spreading over much of Europe. It was widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history and is a mere 110 km from Kiev. Never one to pass up the opportunity to wade through nuclear waste, I said that I will accompany him on his quest. We shall see if we are able to make it there and back.        

No comments:

Post a Comment