Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where in the world is Kiev, Ukraine??

Last weekend, I finally finished my last project for school this year. In my Developing World class, we had to use Google Earth to create a tour of a developing country and its progress and lack of progress in the United Nation's Millennial Goals. Anyways, from this I acquired the skill of traveling around the world in just moments while being able to record and share my travels too. So here's my virtual flight to Kiev, enjoy!

Game of Charades

Alright, so first I need to fill you in on some background. My sister's husband is Armenian, and his parents (up until recently) have been living in Moscow, Russia which isn't too far of a distance from Kiev, Ukraine. BUT they're currently here in America, and since last Friday, I've had a ton of opportunity to find ways to communicate with my brother-in-law's Russian-Armenian-speaking parents (Maria and Haroch). It has been a constant game of charades, but I feel like I'm getting better and better at it. Like last night, on our way back home, Haroch and Maria were trying to ask me something... "Blah blah blah fitness blah blah blah..."  At first, I thought they were talking to me about my shoes, because they kept pointing at the tennis-shoes I was wearing. We got home, and Maria told me again, "Blah blah blah fitness..." She made a running motion with her arms and legs, I thought maybe Maria was going to go running outside. I pulled out Google Translate (truly a god-send) on my computer, I typed in "Are you going running?" She read the translation in Russian then told me "No no no, blah blah blah blah fitness..." Then it clicked, I typed in, "You're going to the gym?" She told me "Yes!" So after about 5 minutes of trying to figure out what she was saying I finally figured it out. I went and changed to sweat pants and a t-shirt, then we went to the gym.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Culture Shock

Last week was absolutely crazy. I went to a few ILP meetings where they taught us all about what we should expect when we go to the Ukraine. Honestly, it was quite an eye-opener for me. I realized this trip isn't going to just be all easy and fun for me. The biggest thing that I'm currently worried about is that I could go through some hard-core culture shock after the first couple weeks of being there. The culture there will be completely different to America, I won't have any close family or friends near by, hardly anyone will even speak my own language, and I doubt there will be a whole lot that will feel just like home right away to me. 

The ILP people told us about four phases that we'll probably go through while we're there. I've sort of described them below (with some help from my notes and Wikipedia):

Four Phases of Culture Shock
  1. The Honeymoon Phase - During the first few weeks, most people are fascinated by the new culture. They associate with nationals who speak their language, and who are polite to the foreigners. This period is full of observations and new discoveries. 
  2. The Negotiation Phase - After a while, culture differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety, frustration and anger.
  3. The Adjustment Phase - After a while longer, you get used to the new culture and routines are developed. You know what to expect in most situations, and you can have a good attitude towards accepting the culture.  
  4. The Mastery Phase- The culture feels almost like home, you are able to participate fully and comfortably within the culture. It's sad that you will ever have to leave.
Culture shock does seem to be a common experience among travelers. At this point, I am simply afraid of having any of the symptoms of culture shock hit me when I get to Ukraine (depression, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, disorientation, etc). I want to do what I can to prevent  and remedy any sort of home-sickness or culture shock I might have. 

Here's a summary of ways I can prepare and prevent "Culture-shock" when I finally make it to the Ukraine:

Before I go - build my appreciation of the culture.
  • Learn more about the Ukrainian culture.
  • Learn about the language and customs of the Ukraine.
  • Find out about upcoming holidays and learn all I can about them.
When I get there - have a positive attitude about the new culture. 
  • Get to know my host-family and the native people.
  • Find the things that I love about the country.
  • Spend time outside doing things.
  • Talk with other Americans in the Ukraine that are going through the same things as me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

International Language Program

For the past half-of-this-year (at least), I've been working with the International Language Program to make a trip next January to Kiev, Ukraine. The International Language Program is a program focused on teaching children in other parts of the world English through an immersion program. Basically, I get to go and teach children in Ukraine English while getting to have the experience of the new and different culture. This blog is all about my experience with ILP and going to Ukraine to teach English. I'm SO excited to go!