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Journey to the Borderland

May 11

Posted by Lindsey Whissel on 05/15 at 11:26 AM

Arrived safely in Kharkiv…
[Haven’t had internet for a few days so look for new postings for May 11 - 14]

Last night we took a bus from Dnipropetrovsk to Kharkiv that left at 1am and arrived at 6am. I think I’m pretty flexible as a traveler, but I must say, it was a rough night and after that bus ride, I will never again say anything negative about night trains. I managed to get about 40 minutes of sleep and arrived looking more than a little bedraggled, but our hosts were very gracious and, after feeding us a big and delicious breakfast, gave us the rest of the morning to sleep. There is a swimming pool here and I know Carrie and I (we’re both staying at the same place) are looking forward to using it later.

My last host family had Wi-Fi so we were able to communicate a great deal via Google translate. There is Internet here, but no wireless so we are forced to rely more heavily on my pocket dictionary and sign language, but we managed to have a nice conversation over lunch. Later, they took us to a book store so Carrie could buy a phrasebook. While we were there, I started looking at children’s books hoping I could find a copy of “Beauty and the Beast” in Russian (I collect different versions of this story). With the help of an English-speaking clerk, I was able to find a copy with some beautiful illustrations. My host mother also found a book of Ukrainian folk talks with both Ukrainian and English translations, which she insisted on buying for me (along with my other book); I was touched by her generosity and will treasure both books.

We walked through a beautiful park and noticed lots of teenagers with sashes on. Our hosts told us today was the last day of classes so the students were out celebrating and the sashes represented their year in school. All the girls seemed to be wearing French maid costumes too, but we couldn’t figure out why. There were lots of performers in the park, including a group in Native American garb playing tribal music (gotta love globalization). We met up with the rest of the team at a café and had a quick bite before our next event—the ballet.

Seeing a ballet was one of the things our group had specifically requested, so we were really excited. To make it even more of treat, the performance was “Swan Lake,” which I’ve always wanted to see. It was beautiful and we had really good seats. Toward the end of the show, a bat got loose in the theater, but he calmed down after a few frantic laps across the ceiling. The students were still partying hard in the park on our walk back to the car.

Word of the day: клубника (kloob-nee-ka) - strawberry

{name} Author: Lindsey Whissel
Bio: Lindsey Whissel earned her degree in cinema and digital arts from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. She has produced a variety of broadcast and non-broadcast media projects for television, radio, and the web.

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