Saturday, January 12, 2013

Spoiled by Heated Housing

It is just as I feared, by being in heated housing in Ukraine I've become unaccustomed to the chill in our home. Granted, it's been an abnormally cold week. The country had 2 days of deluging rain followed by 2 days of snow. This country is ill-equipped to handle snow. There were flooded streets and blocked drains.
On a positive note, the water reservoirs are already at 45% of their needed levels in contrast to 18% as of last year. So, everyone is glad for the moisture, but the cold is not good for any of us. These houses aren't built for this cold as I've stated in previous posts. We are on our third night of being able to see our breath in our bedrooms. All of our time at home is spent in the inner living room that has no wall to the outdoors and has the heater on constantly. The heater merely takes the edge off the cold, not really warming the rooms. I'm currently wearing 4 layers of shirts, wool socks and slippers. You don't dare touch the tile floor with a bare foot as it is painfully cold. The electric heating pads and tights we bought in Ukraine have become vital for nightly comfort. We are wishing we had 0 degree sleeping bags for the kid's to sleep in. Thankfully the cold season is very short. So, wrap an extra blanket around your shoulders and think of us over here in the chilly desert.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

You Came to the Ukraine

Time is flying by since we arrived at our foreign home. The addition of school has left us little time to catch our breath. We are finally catching our breath.
All four of us started our school break on December 21st. On December 30th, we hopped on a plane to Ukraine. We are at the 6 month mark on our visa and are required to leave the country for at least a day to start  a new 6 month visa process. The cheapest option for us was an overnight trip to Egypt by bus and ferry and cheap means around $1,000 for a family of four. When we realized that a trip to Ukraine to visit our best friends for 10 days was not much more expensive we decided that was the better option. This trip was also a surprise for our friend's daughter's birthday. After a 3 hour plane ride and a 3 hour car ride, we reached our friends.
We've experienced some mild culture shock as Ukraine is miles away from what we're used to in Jordan. The fact that they live in houses...actual houses with insulation and painted exteriors was the first thing we noticed. The landscape is rolling hills, snow, trees and farmland. Much like North Dakota and nothing like our desert home. There are buildings and floors made of wood and floors are heated. The snow and cold air made all four of us cheer as we left the airport.  The advertisements on the billboards are much more scantily clad than we're used to and the people walk close together in mixed company and are fine with invading other's personal space. The headscarves have been replaced by fur hats and puffy coats. Also, the's a very big section of the grocery stores. Vodka seems to come in an endless amount of brands.
The never-ending hot water, heated housing and insulated walls are a delight to us all. It's something I will bitterly miss when I get home and huddle close to the sobba for warmth.
The kids are able to spend their time sledding, snowball fighting, playing board games, ice skating and freely enjoying their time with their friends. It's been a wonderful way to catch our breath and one we get to enjoy until January 10th.

It's not helping me practice my Arabic though and I'm trying to be diligent in studying a little every day. I've gained so much understanding in the language and am desperate not to lose ground.