my Ukrainian home.


Аліна (Alina) is fourteen years old, and was known to Jessica, Miri, and I as 'little Alina.' This was simply to differentiate Alina from an older Alina. [The older Alina being the infamous 'Alina Boss,' a well respected figure amongst the Інтeрнат girls and staff, one who was an incredibly huge help to the three of us throughout the summer.]

While going through the Інтeрнат documents in July, we learned that Alina's parents lost custody of her several years ago. This 'route' [loss of custody] is shared by several of the girls; many are not actually orphaned. Many simply have parents who are unable to care for their children due to addictions, poverty, or other similar circumstances.

As Alina is fourteen, she is grouped in the third 'class' of girls. Favourite activities of Alina (as well as the other girls in her class) include arts and crafts, singing karaoke, enjoying time outside in the courtyard or at the Інтeрнат park, playing badminton, and watching movies and television. This is all in addition to hours upon hours spent listening to music and, of course, dancing!

Alina seems to be an introvert, as she tends to be in the background of larger group situations. She is hilarious without seeking extra attention, her mannerisms and quirks crack me up (for instance, her nonchalant attitude towards the bizarre sunglasses we brought). Alina has a matter-of-fact way of being; she is laid back and patient, a positive member of her class.


home sweet home.


    Nearly a week has passed since I left Austria, finally arriving home to family and friends... and I am still slightly overwhelmed by the fact that I am back to 'real life' in Canada, no longer in my Ukrainian world. Counter-culture shock? Maybe.

      My body has finally gotten over the jetlag and various time differences. It was iffy for a few days; it felt like I had a unique time zone, one of my very own... A time zone existing somewhere between Caledonia, Vienna, and Ternopil (all of which seem to be worlds apart).

        My taste buds have been in total shock - Cheerios, chocolate milk, (salt and vinegar) chips... oh my! I polished off three servings of pita bread tonight, to go along with my spinach dip. I have also already enjoyed Momma's homemade waffles, salami, and unlimited ketchup. It's pretty safe to say that at least half of the items on my Official Taste Bud Wish List have been eaten/inhaled.

          My last few days have been full of reunions with family, friends, and a certain Lagerwerf. I also gained a new cousin, as Elise is no longer a Vos. Welcome to the fam, Joshua! Their wedding was incredible - how often is it that a backyard reception includes a visit from the ice cream truck?! An incredibly fun and beautiful day spent with people I've missed dearly.

            My travels have led to adventures in Austria as well as Slovakia (!) since leaving Ukraine. More Wanderlust? Yes, please. (Oh, that nasty travel bug... it's bitten me again! Hrmmm...) Pictures of Vienna, Bratislava, and Salzburg to be posted soon-ish.

              And now, my to do list is a monster. It has (once again) taken on a life of its own, and I can hardly keep track of all of the odds and ends that I need to catch up on in the next few days and weeks. All I can really say is that I have some significantly large decisions to make in terms of my plans and whereabouts for the next few months.

                  [Check in again soon... I plan to post pictures of the Internat concert and final days, my last few days of travelling, in addition to continuing my series of Internat profiles. Thanks all!]



                    "In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it."

                    - Marianne Williamson


                    sick of Сметана.


                    I have eaten approximately 76 omelettes since my first breakfast in Ternopil.
                    I have slowly warmed up to strange dishes such as varyneky and borsch, and even gotten used to espresso-sized cups of coffee.
                    I am incredibly grateful to Slava for the generousity she has showered me with over the last few months, but there are a few foods that aren't viable options in Ukraine.
                    What kind of foods, you ask? Look at my latest list for a better understanding of what my taste buds have been missing... Смачного! (fyi: the Ukrainian equivalent to 'bon appetit!')

                    Jen's Official Taste Bud Wish List

                    1. Bowls upon bowls of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
                    2. Cereal in general - Alphabits, Rice Krispies, Froot Loops, Honeycomb... it's all good.
                    3. Carly's infamous grilled cheese sandwiches, with a large side of (free) ketchup
                    4. a Large double-double from Timmy Ho's
                    5. minimum 6L of glorious chocolate milk (Ukrainian dairy products do not agree with my body, with the exception of ice cream)
                    6. salt and vinegar chips (of the vast array of unique Ukrainian potato chips... there is nothing that comes close to Miss Vickie's)
                    7. Popsicles
                    8. fish and chips... heavy on the vinegar, please
                    9. a Chocolate Extreme blizzard a la DQ
                    10. Garlic. Bread.
                    11. a Spicy Italian sub from Subway
                    12. popcorn so buttery it could only be found in a movie theater lobby...
                    13. Cheese Capaletti
                    14. SALAMI.
                    15. "Oma" Pancakes, with sprinkles and maple syrup
                    16. mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce
                    17. onion rings
                    18. granola bars (preferably chocolate-dipped)
                    19. hot dogs... yes, that's right. Street meat? Yes, please.
                    20. a Muffaletta sandwich (served fresh from the Black Hole Bistro)
                    21. Rockets
                    22. saltine crackers
                    23. Skim milk... like I said, my body hasn't agreed with Ukrainian dairy. Unfortunately.
                    24. Kraft Dinner
                    25. Anything else that I can load with (complimentary) ketchup.
                    26. freezies (blue, red, or peach)
                    27. my momma's homemade waffles on a Sunday morning
                    28. spinach dip... mmm.
                    29. having a brewski or two with my dad and brothers, sitting on the deck with our dogs after a days work. Not necessarily a taste, but a taste of home that dirt cheap Ukrainian beer just doesn't compare to.