One Week Down, and A Birthday Celebration

Yesterday was my birthday, and while I’m still feeling a good bit homesick and was not able to redeem my free drink at Starbucks, those who know me here really made an effort to make it nice.  In the morning, the owner of my apartment, Marianna, came by with a bouquet of flowers and a large new fry pan (there are not many pots or pans here in the apartment).

It was a cloudy but nice day, and I decided to venture out to the indoor/outdoor market a block from my apartment.  I was amazed by its vastness; I just kept going from one pathway of stalls to another and was reminded of some other markets I have visited in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. I have to say that I felt quite out of my comfort zone there.

Dried fruits
Dried fruits
How many parrots can fit into one cage??
How many parrots can fit into one cage??
Ukraine -- home of root vegetables
Ukraine — home of root vegetables

After some time of walking through the labyrinth of buildings and stalls, I began to fear that I might never find my way out, and be late for lunch with my colleagues.  Fortunately I did eventually emerge onto a sidewalk and found my way back to Shevchenko street.

At 1:00 I met most of my English department colleagues in front of the shopping center across from my place, and they gave me a basket of flowers and sang Happy Birthday right there in the square, with gusto.  We made our way to a nearby restaurant that specializes in varenyky, a specialty of Ukraine and of the Cherkasy region.  The restaurant is designed to look like an old traditional Ukrainian house, and all the waitresses wear traditional Ukrainian embroidered clothing.  It was really cute and unique!  We shared a number of types of varenyky, drank traditional dried-fruit juice, and had some ice cream (with apple and orange slices and some jellied candies in the “sundae”) for dessert.  While I was drilled with questions about teaching methods, college schedules, and the such in the U.S., it was a very nice time.

“Varenychna,” the varenyky restaurant. Note the varenyky (filled dumplings) in the spoon on the roof.
My flowers and the wood-covered menu
My flowers and the wood-covered menu
Clockwise from left: Yaroslava, Olga, me, Marina, Oksana, Ludmila, and Alla
Clockwise from left: Yaroslava, Olga, me, Marina, Oksana, Ludmila, and Alla (Oleg is taking the picture).
Oleg enjoying his varenyky
Oleg enjoying his varenyky
My plate of varenyky: one each of potato, cabbage and mushroom, and shredded meat. That is sour cream that is eaten with it. One of them is darker because it is made with buckwheat flour; buckwheat is very common here.
My plate of varenyky: one each of potato, cabbage and mushroom, and shredded meat. That is sour cream that is eaten with it. One of them is darker because it is made with buckwheat flour; buckwheat is very common here.

After lunch, Oksana gave me a walking tour of the area and showed me some cafeteria-style places where I can more easily get something to eat by seeing what I am getting.  She also showed me some places where I can get traditional Ukrainian handcrafts since I hadn’t seen any yet.

Oksana asked me if this was my first birthday out of the U.S., and I realized that it was!  I’m very thankful that I had people helping me not to feel alone.

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3 thoughts on “One Week Down, and A Birthday Celebration

  1. I love reading your blogs and thoroughly enjoy the pictures. I was thinking of you on your birthday yesterday and am glad your new friends celebrated with you.

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  2. Happy “outside the US” birthday !!! So glad you decided to do this blog. It’s been fun to see into your life there in the Ukraine. It looks like you had a wonderful day and have already met several friends. I think it is truly lovely that they gathered in this manner for the newbie in town. Looks like you have some lovely co-workers there. Have fun Jeanie. When does school start?

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  3. Happy birthday Jeanie ( belated , unfortunately ) I really enjoy reading what you are experiencing and learning. Missed seeing you in choir on Sunday but becomes a good reminder to pray – and to check your blog! 🙋

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