великий (velykyy) – большой (bol’shoy)- big (false friend: великий means great in Russian)
це (tse) – это (ehto) – this/it
кава (kava) – кофе (kofe) – coffee
горілка (xhorilka) – водка (vodka)- vodka (Ukrainian “г” has a different sound: “xh” not “g”)
Comparison of Ukrainian and Russian alphabets:
Did you know about these Ukrainian words? I’d love to hear from you!
One more thing before I conclude this post: Yes, I am interested in Ukrainian! This year I have also decided to learn some Ukrainian. I won’t be learning the grammar formally like I have done with German, Russian and French, but I do want to learn some basic words and phrases. The language is personally interesting to me since I lived in Kiev and got to know Ukrainian people and culture. Plus, it’s fun to compare the similarities with Russian. I really like Ukrainian so far ❤ Since I don’t plan on studying or working in Ukraine, I don’t see any need learning the language past a B1 level. At most, I’ll probably reach A2. I’ve got a phrase book and two vocabulary books. And I use Duolingo and YouTube. As I go on, I may use other websites and language learning apps. Even though A2 isn’t that high of a level, I look forward to using some Ukrainian the next time I visit Ukraine!
My project “Austauscherfahrungen” has been active for more than a year now. To celebrate this occasion and reflect on the roots of this blog, I have put together this post—My First Trip Abroad in Photos.
There are two ways to “read” this entry: you can either start from this page and click on the photos that interest you, or you can start by clicking on the first photo and then go from photo story to photo story.
The first time I went abroad I was 18 years old. I went abroad the summer after my freshman year of university. It was not an organized trip with my university, nor was it a group trip through an organization offering study abroad opportunities to American students. I signed up for a summer language course with an international language school, Goethe-Institute.
I was from a small (southern) American town and somewhat bad at directions. Naturally, I had some expectations of Europe, but I was open-minded and unafraid to travel to Germany by myself. I wasn’t too nervous before I took off—I only worried about organizational matters. At first, it was a challenge to navigate train stations and flow with the pace of Germany, but I soon met friends at the language school and spent a fantastic summer abroad.
Some quick tips I have are: to enjoy the small things and give yourself time for reflection. Also, you have to be bad at something before you can be good at it, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Ultimately, I gained a strong motivation to study German further and changed my major to German once I returned home. For more on my study abroad in Germany summer 2015, check out this article~Getting Started with Studying Abroad
Introduction aside, here is My First Trip Abroad in Photos:
Excerpt from my travel diary: Lake Bled was such a stunning and serene site. The lake was an amazing color and so clear. We had enough time to climb the steep hill and enjoy the view from the castle. The view was incredible! Being at the castle and looking down on the water was magnificent and fairytale-like. My eyes devoured the scenery.
Lake Bled is a popular tourist destination and wedding venue in northwestern Slovenia. The town of Bled and Bled Lake are 55 km away from the capital of Slovenia—Ljublana.
The lake is surrounded by mountains and forests. It also has a small island. There are a few legends about the island: The legend of the Sunken Bell and one telling a story of Slovene pagan gods and the conversion to Christianity. There is a medieval castle at the lake—Bled Castle. A popular culinary delight at the castle is the Bled Cream Cake.
Bonus for nature-lovers: Close to Lake Bled is Vintgar Gorge. Vintgar is “gorge” in Slovenian. There are several touristically arranged, wooden bridges with great views of the 1.6 km-long gorge. There is also a stone bridge above Vintgar Gorge, if you would like a bird-eye’s view of the most intact nature of Bled. The gorge is also home to numerous plant species. Steep depths and beautiful fauna make the largest waterfall in Slovenia a memorable stop for Lake Bled-visitors.
Returning home to Georgia, U.S.A after 13 months abroad was surreal. I spent 7 weeks in Kiev, Ukraine. And before that, I was an exchange student in Erlangen, Germany. During my 11-month stay in Germany, I didn’t visit home a single time.
I left behind a different reality in Europe and had a hard time suddenly slamming my brakes to match with the pace of life in a good ol’ suburban town.
The population of my hometown (Newnan, GA) is approximately 30,000 people, which is about the same as the number of undergraduates at my alma mater, Georgia State University. Although it has been a humbling experience to revisit my hometown, I do not feel that my roots are here, and it is quite clear that the suburban lifestyle of southern American towns, or at least this one, is too mundane for someone like me.
I no longer have the stresses that I had here as a teenager and I feel as if I am on a different level than other long-term residents… as if I am not defined by or confined to the old rumors. I see that my hometown is continually becoming more modern and more culturally diverse. But, I still have sympathy for the kids, who feel stuck here and have not had the chance to travel, or the chance to develop their beliefs at university.
It was hard coming back. Having conversations with family or old friends can be challenging. The best way to describe the scenario is Plato’s Allegory of a Cave. In other words, we limit reality to our perceptions. To become enlightened, it is necessary to see life outside of the cave. The cave represents the states of most human beings. Those who return to the cave and try to recount what they have experienced meet disbelief from those who have not left the cave. We need more than just the naming of things; we also need reflective understanding. Travelling and learning foreign languages allow us to grow past only seeing the shadows in the cave.
I am still learning languages and working on a few small projects until my “medium-size” projects take off—I am looking for local internships and work while continuing plans of travel in the States. And my “big project” is getting accepted into grad school.
A few days passed, and I was no longer waking at 4 in the morning. I guess it’s also not so bad being around people who really know you and not just the exchange student version of you… with friends who have not just seen how you’ve bloomed, but friends, who also know the “Georgia Red Clay” that you grew in and how your branches developed.
I had a simple, relaxing weekend before my 18-hour trip back to the States. On Saturday evening, there was even a beautiful sunset in Kiev.
Luckily, I lived in a room with a balcony. Although there was a noisy street outside, I still enjoyed having a view of passerby and of the many trees. When I search for a new place to live, an apartment with a balcony is on my list.
I headed out early on Sunday morning and caught an Uber to the airport. The international airport is located out of the city center and there is no metro connection, so buses and taxis are the only forms of public transportation. I got to the airport in plenty of time to get my ticket and hand over my luggage.
My flight from Kiev to Istanbul was about 2 hours long. I didn’t do any sightseeing in Istanbul—I had to run directly to my connecting flight after landing. I found the gate as they were doing security checks on boarding passengers.
Turkish airlines provided a pleasant experience. The aircrew was friendly and professional; the services they provided made the long flight manageable and more comfortable. I was in the air for 12 hours! I watched a total of 3 movies because I couldn’t catch any sleep. During the first 6 hours of the flight, it felt like time would stay moving so slowly that I wouldn’t be able to take it anymore, but, once I knew that there was only an hour left before landing, time felt like only a matter of a few short seconds that needed to pass before I would arrive.
I was ready to go! To hop of the plane, collect my luggage and set foot in Atlanta. In Kiev, I was settled and had a sense of home, so I wasn’t homesick, but during the flight I became excited thinking about going back to the States and seeing my home state of Georgia with new eyes. I was also thrilled to see family and friends and to have all my belongings together in one place. My suitcases were quite heavy—40 kg total. No, there wasn’t any gold in them—just books 🙂
Once I stepped out of the airport, the sultry Atlanta weather (despite it being 8 p.m.) greeted me kindly. Although everything was familiar, it was still a strange experience to be back after so long. This feeling of being back home will be the topic for my next entry.
I got to see a new part of Kiev today! A permanent flea market with an open-air book market. It was wonderful to dive into the stacks of books.. to test my knowledge of reading Russian and to discover some books in English, German and French. My buddy also found a book he had been searching for!! Schwein gehabt 🙂
Despite the cold, rainy and grey weather, I had a great time. I feel like most big cities have these layers. As short-time tourists, we stay on a level of tourism.. only seeing attractions but not getting to know the city as it lives naturally. Ordinary parts of a city aren’t so ordinary when you find something you like. Like going to a book market as a book lover. I enjoyed myself and am glad that I keep finding new things to do and see.
For those interested, the book market along with the other flea markets there are directly at the station Pochaina (formerly Petrivka) on the blue line of the metro. In my post about Kiev, I mentioned a collection of shops at an underground crossing near Arsenalna station that sell a decent variety of new books, but this area is a typical flea market with a huge collection of used books especially in Russian language. Likealocalguide.com says that it’s the biggest book market in Ukraine with books of all genres and an authentic atmosphere. And I agree! It’s an authentic place with so much history and so many beautiful stories waiting to be discovered –> Petrivka Market
As my blog continues to grow, I am trying to improve as a travel blogger. I want to record my memories for myself, but tell them in a way that is inspirational for my readers. I love exchanging ideas with others and picking up good habits from different people. Moreover, I want my travel posts to be just as interesting as they are informative. I’d love any feedback, tips or further comments about travel blogging. Why should we write about our travels? What do we gain by sharing our travels with others? What does travelling and writing mean to you?
I’ve left Germany already and my first three weeks in Kiev have flown by! I’m enjoying my Russian lessons here and am staying busy. I’ll be sharing some new stuff soon 😉
In the meantime, I wanted to do a short, fun blog entry.. about the places I went while living in Germany! To make it more interesting, I’ve also listed each country’s name in the languages that I speak/study in order of decreasing fluency (English, German, Russian, French.) The only country that I had been to before was Germany**.