I've been back in Ukraine for about 2 weeks now, and it's been nice to settle back into life in "my" city.
Reverse Culture Shock
Each time I return to America, there are things that stick out to me because they are so different than in Ukraine. As I defined it a few years ago, reverse culture shock is "when you miss the familiarity of the unfamiliar (Ukraine), and the familiar (America) is suddenly unfamiliar." This holiday, I felt the least amount of reverse culture shock of all my return trips -- perhaps I've finally adjusted to switching between cultures seamlessly.
Here are some things that "shocked" me...
*Strangers (especially in small towns) are friendly--they'll wave at you from across the street even if they have no idea who you are!
*(Many) Americans are loud. My friend and I could hear the Dunkin Donuts cashiers' conversation from the other end of the building where we were sitting.
*Sunshine at 5pm, and 60*F weather on New Year's Eve!
*My mom's oven was electric and took only a minute or two to pre-heat. Our oven in Ukraine is gas, requires us to light it with a lighter, and takes MANY minutes to pre-heat.
*The Dominos menu is different (besides being in another language)
*Restaurants or public areas in America don't advertise Wifi as often as places in Ukraine, and it's usually not offered/available as much.
*My church service was REALLY short (about 1 1/4 hour instead of about 2 hours or more), and it felt like we kept standing and sitting and standing and sitting....
*When stepping out of the shower, over the side of the tub, I didn't have to step down. In Ukraine, the floor of my shower is about 6" higher than the bathroom floor.
This is just a taste of how I have to adjust when I switch between countries. The important thing in all of this is my attitude of flexibility -- as the Youth in Mission motto goes, "That's different, but that's okay."
Despite these "shocks," my time in America was relaxing. I saw many of my friends and family. Also, during previous visits to America over Christmas, I've shared an update on life in Ukraine to my church (Chestertown, MD) in an evening service. This time, my time was only about 5 minutes long, in a morning service--it was nice not having to prepare a longer message -- made me really feel like I was on vacation! :)
|Decorations at Kyiv First Church|
This year, in contrast to my previous two years at KCA, we gave exams for first semester BEFORE Christmas break. Although those days were crazy, the students really looked forward to their Christmas break -- because they didn't have exams looming in the near future. When 2012 began, they had a fresh start to the new year!
On the 21st, I attended an Alumni basketball game (girls), when any returning KCA alumni has the opportunity to play on a team against current HS basketball team members. Some girls had graduated in 2009, and others had graduated in 2011 -- some had never played basketball on the same team before! It was so great to end 2011 with these families and former students, watching a basketball game for fun!
So now, we are in the second semester. Basketball season is getting into full swing. My geometry students are happy that they don't have to do proofs anymore. Two of my precalculus students have returned from a semester in the US. Today (15-Jan), it snowed a few inches, enough for the kids in the neighborhood to sled on a tiny hill.
|This photo is NOT in black and white! (Taken at 10:30 am)|
You prayed for...
*Hope House girls.
Due to decisions made by the leadership in Odessa, Amy and I won't be going back until the missionaries from Canada return in the spring. We are uncertain of how this ministry will continue to take shape, but we miss the girls and are sad that we cannot continue to build relationships with them each month. More prayer would be appreciated, as we pray about how to minister to the girls -- to help them grow in their relationships with God and to serve others.
You prayed for...
*KCA MS/HS students taking semester exams.
I overheard one high school student saying, "This is the most anticipated Christmas break ever"--since they didn't have to worry about exams!
You prayed about...
When I was flying back to Ukraine, we had a very turbulent approach to the runway in Munich, Germany--it was the worst feeling ever! BUT through the landing, I just listened to worship music on my iPod to distract myself (shh, don't tell the airline) and clung to God, remembering His promises. (I survived, in case you couldn't tell.)
You prayed for...
*More flexibility, and a Christ-like attitude when things don't happen according to my expectations
This is a lesson that I am constantly learning. I'm thankful for people in my life that are there to support me and pray for me, and that are sometimes learning the lesson right along with me! A common theme recently in my life is realizing I need to rely on God more -- through the challenges and through the easy times.
January 22 -- English at Obolon
Early February -- the beginning of my online NTS course: "History and Polity of the Church of the Nazarene"
*Love for my students, and creativity in teaching
*That my relationship with Christ would be the MOST important thing in my life
*Friends back in America who are hurting (for various reasons)
*A restful Christmas holiday
*Understanding most of the Russian Bible study I attended last week (well, the parts that I paid attention to)
*Time with friends here in Ukraine...visiting them at their house, hosting Bible study here, or just hanging out
Thank you so much for your support throughout the past few months (and years)! May you have a wonderful 2012!