Thursday, November 28, 2013

happy thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, and even though I'm not eating turkey or counting how many rolls my brother has had or sitting in a cabin with the rest of my family talking about the boys in my life, my dad's ongoing battle with the Christmas lights, and whether or not the nearby trail would be good for my mom's pony and cart, I am grateful. Yes, I wish I could be there to see my nephew's new jeans or tease Caroline about the next high school dance. But the great thing about being grateful is that I can feel this way no matter where I am. And I don't know what it is about this place, but I don't think I've ever been more grateful in my life.

I'm grateful for my family. I'm grateful for technology that allows me to talk with them from across the world. I'm grateful for our memories and jokes. I'm grateful for their support and encouragement for me coming to Ukraine. I'm grateful for my friends. I'm grateful for the little red square on facebook that tells me when I have a new message from one of them. I'm grateful that I miss my people back in America. I'm grateful that I love my Ukrainian people. I'm grateful that I get to be in Ukraine. I'm grateful for when a student says something in English perfectly and their parents hear it and are so happy. I'm grateful when that something is "I love Ms. Waychel."

I'm grateful for the places I've seen and the people I've met from around the world. I'm grateful for my camera and the memories I've been able to document with it. I'm grateful for adventures. I'm grateful for safety. I'm grateful that water is free in America. I'm grateful for complimentary peanuts on flights. I'm grateful for public transportation. I'm grateful that I don't have to use public transportation in America.

I'm grateful for shaving gel and my hairbrush. I'm grateful for my sandals and my warm boots. I'm grateful that I can read. I'm grateful for chocolate and pears, but not together. I'm grateful for emails. I'm grateful for pie and real whipped cream. I'm grateful for the fake whipped cream too.

I'm grateful that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm grateful that even though I'm in Ukraine, I can still go to church. I'm grateful for the temple. I'm grateful for missionary work and for missionaries. I'm grateful for my ancestors and everything they went through so I can be here. I'm grateful that I am here. I'm grateful for my body and for my health.

I'm grateful for my Savior. I'm grateful for the many times I have felt His love surrounding me. I'm grateful for prayer. I'm grateful for the protection prayer has given me. I'm grateful that I can change. I'm grateful for a Plan that allows me to be with my family forever. Because I'm so grateful for my family.


The thing is, once you start, you can't stop. 
So basically, gratitude is like eating a can of Pringles.
which i'm also grateful for.

peace and mashed potatoes

Monday, November 25, 2013


3 weeks guys. In exactly three weeks I will be sitting on a plane back to America. 3 weeks. Do you realize how small of a time that is? I don't know if my brain just does time differently now, but throughout this entire experience everything has seemed so...imminent.

And now I only have three weeks left. And that makes me want to cry because I can't wait to see my family and hold my nephew and celebrate Christmas and share my chocolate and eat Mexican food and hug my friends. But I also can't imagine leaving the people I love so much. I can't imagine leaving these kids that squirmed their way into my heart while dumping glitter and throwing cotton balls everywhere. Who, for the life of them, can't focus on one thing for more than 20 seconds. Who are proud to show me their little toys, the buttons on their clothes, and the pictures of me they've drawn. Who probably won't remember me at all by the end of December.

I love this city.

MAN I've got to stop listening to Sigur Ros at night. Way too many thoughts going on over here on the other side of the world.

Three weeks. They're gonna be great.

peace and hoppipolla

Thursday, November 21, 2013

a ukrainian proposal

As I have already said dozens of times and in a variety of different ways, living in Ukraine is an adventure. Which I absolutely love. I mean, I may or may not have eaten a granola bar made of bull's blood today. (and when I say "may or may not have" I mean "most definitely did.") Did I know it was made of bull's blood before I ate it? No! But that's part of the adventure! And now my hemoglobin levels are just skyrocketing. I can feel it.

My adventures range anywhere from trying food, teaching 3 year old Ukrainians, going to the grocery store, trying to get off the metro, trying to get on the metro, being yelled at on marshrutkas, attempting to leave the flat while not wearing tights (my host mom dies a little inside every time my bare leg shows), and being pursued by men.

Yes indeed. That last little category of adventures has probably been the most adventurous of them all. (ok, minus our 3 hour stint on the Ukraine/Hungary border during the middle of the night in which I accepted the possibility that I might not ever see another sunrise) I haven't really talked about this part of my experience much because I mean, why would I? Sure, maybe it's given me some reassurance. Now I know that if I never find a guy in Provo, there's always a drunk Bulgarian that would be happy to take care of me. Am I right? (please. tell me I'm not right.)

Most of them just talked with me briefly, invited me to one thing or another, and then were gone from my life. Others have been more persistent, asking to hold my hand, take pictures with me, or adding me on facebook when I panicked under pressure and couldn't think of a way to avoid telling them my name. (Plus I'm just a terrible liar and the only name I could think of in the moment, other than my own, was Penelope Clearwater)

Yes. It's been an adventure. And I haven't shared because I didn't want anyone to worry unnecessarily. hi grandma. Please know that I am absolutely, perfectly safe. I ate a granola bar made of bull's blood remember? I'm untouchable.

But when I got the following in my facebook messages, I knew it was time to share.

"Hello, I want to be very open, I am looking to start a permanent relationship with you without any kind of limits. I am aware that you may have to many options, but this time it's my turn if you reject me it would be a lost in this life for a couple to find eternal happiness so I will wait for you to respond and invite me to get to know each other and later the one and only for life and yes I am proposing you to get married if you and I are honest, straight romantic and clear about your life goals."

So who knows? This girl might come home with more than a nesting doll and some chocolate for her souvenir.

peace and proposals


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

just ukraine stuff

Things I have eaten like an apple, but were not apples, while in Ukraine:


Things I have eaten pickled, that I didn't even know could be pickled, while in Ukraine:


I tell you what guys, my breath is going to smell bad for the rest of my life. It'll be a little reminder of my time spent in Eastern Europe. (ah, how sweet). Unfortunately my dad will probably never hug me again because I can just see him cringing at the thought of someone willingly biting into a clove of garlic. I mean, the man has a hard time with Olive Garden. But we love him for it.

In other news, I taught an older class today with students who can actually speak English pretty well. It was an interesting change from my usual classes, where the only English phrases voluntarily spoken are "Please toilet" "Please water" and "English only." (minus the one little boy who breaks out in "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star every 2 minutes) A few of the comments/questions made by the older kids were as follows:

Student: "How old are you?"
Me: "How old do you think I am?"
Student: "35!"

Me: "My last name is German."
Student: "Oh, that makes sense because you have a German nose!"

Student: "Do you have a boyfriend?"
Me: "No."
Student: "That's too bad."

Student: "Do you like dogs?"
Me: "Yes. I do."
Student: "I have money. I'll buy you a dog."

Student: "I like songs by The Beatles."
(proceeds to sing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" to me)

Student: "Someday I want to work in America. Can I have your number for when I'm there?"

Student: "Where do you want to travel to?"
Me: "I want to go to Norway, Finland, and Sweden."
Student: "Don't do it! It's so cold you'll die. Like my cat did this summer."

peace and German facial features


Thursday, November 14, 2013

rule of the weilers

I'm about to give you a brief history lesson instead of preparing my thoughts for Relief Society this Sunday. So you should feel really special right now. Here goes.

The city of Kiev was founded by 4 siblings over 1,400 years ago. Yeah, just take that in for a second. The city that I've been living in existed centuries before Columbus even knew what a map was. These siblings, three brothers and a sister, crossed the Dnipro River and established a settlement, naming it Kiev after the eldest brother and king. In 1982, Ukraine erected a statue and monument to honor these siblings. It became my personal mission to see this monument while here because for some reason it just did.

So I found it.
cool story. i know.

I've thought a lot about these people, these siblings. The fact that the city that is now my home was founded by a family just makes it all so much better to me. Can you imagine the stress and arguments and jokes and fun they probably had while trying to cross the Dnipro River? I mean, Kyi was probably stressed about finding a place to make his kingdom while keeping an eye on his littler sister, Lybid, who was obviously a little bit of a diva-free-spirit see statue pictured above. Shchek was probably always being a goof or flirting with all girls while Khoryv teased his sister and tried to be like his older brothers. But they did it. And that's cool.

Well, I started thinking about what it would be like if the four original siblings of my family went off to establish a city and eventual country of our own. I don't think Spencer would want much to do with the actual establishing, but he would have a significant input on the actual location of our establishment, in that he just wouldn't come with us unless there were giant mountains and cliffs for him to climb nearby. Once there, he'd be in charge of scouting out nearby lands, designating areas to be preserved for national parks, and finding the best ski slopes. All of which are vitally important to making a city. He'd come back once in a while to tell us a story, make us laugh, and take all our food back with him into the wild. We'd always be glad to see him.

No, even though he's the oldest and the only boy, he wouldn't be the one to rule. That responsibility would go to Rebecca. Not because she's bossy or would take it for her own, but because she would know what to do and have a logical plan to carry it all out. We'd naturally just turn to her. She would make decisions logically and be efficient while organizing a healthcare and education system that really worked. She'd also choose the best kinds of holidays and traditions and the palace where she lived would always have the most pinterest-worthy banners and wreaths. Ambassadors would enjoy their visits immensely and always be invited to stay and play a board game or 7. Those ambassadors would always lose.

Caroline would be the communicator with the people because they would naturally just love her. Her honesty, wit, and easy going personality would help her relate to the people in a way that would compel them to give us their money. She'd also be the reality check to the group, teasing us when we got too full of ourselves and quoting Brian Regan during government meetings. She'd probably push for the national anthem to be a song from Brother Bear or Spirit and have the final say in the design of our flag. Which would be tie-die.

And my one contribution to the Weiler-sibling-city would be the creation of a national holiday dedicated to the celebration of cheese quesadillas.

Would you pay us your taxes?

peace and soccer
i'm totally going to the ukraine vs. france game tomorrow. yeah. tickets are basically impossible to get. but my host dad rocks.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

nessebar, bulgaria

Well, this post is a complete cop out. I admit it. I embrace it. And so should you, because today we're doing the tried and true post in which I just let the pictures do the talking. Basically.

(but now I'm about to do some talking as well so I guess I just lied to you right up there ^^^)
And you're right. Such a post doesn't do justice to the places I've been seeing. You don't understand the thrill of the bus ride along the coastal mountains, in which I fully accepted that I was going to die as our bus went up on two wheels with every switchback. Nor can you relate to the hilarious situations we got ourselves into on a daily basis due to self-timers and dance moves. You haven't met John Lee, an elderly Australian we ate lunch with and who can drop facebook lingo in a conversation like a 13 year old. You didn't get a free piece of cake at the restaurant because the waiter was just so dang cool and you didn't get invited to karaoke night by a group of Bulgarian men.

Those are the things that make traveling so awesome. But the pretty places don't hurt either.

peace and 50 cent ice cream cones. 
twice a day.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

heart-warming comments from a host family

|| "You look like a flower."

|| "We don't like American smiles, but we like yours."

|| "You are not a crocodile."

|| "You are not a gorilla."

|| "You are not a dog."

|| "Hello Cinderella!" (post fairy god mother version...pretty sure)

|| "How do you not have boyfriend?"

|| "It's like we won the lottery!"

|| "You are a fairy princess."

|| "Whether you are good girl or bad girl, we love you."

How am I going to leave? I love these people so much.

peace and family
even if they're a different nationality


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

varna, bulgaria

Remember that one time me and three other 20-somethings traveled through Bulgaria entirely on our own? Yeah. That was a miracle. After establishing our home base in Burgas, we did a few day trips to nearby coastal cities. We loved them all.

The first we went to was Varna. Now, I haven't recounted all the adventures we had while en-route from Kiev to Burgas because to do so would take more time than Nicholas Flamel has on his hands. But let me assure you that there was some crazy business going down. And I loved it.

BUT. The point of that was that we met and befriended the most wonderful person alive. Iliana. She was our little Bulgarian angel who took pity on the four completely bewildered Americans. It is because of her that I'm not currently lying on the floor, crying, in the Sofia Airport. This angel-woman lives in Varna, so after exploring around the city a little bit, we met up with her again to eat some ice cream, visit her favorite spot on the beach, and talk about gypsies.

Our first stop of the day: THIS GIANT FARMERS MARKET.
Best bananas of our lives. water?!

 Andrew decided to become Eastern European.
These boys don't know how to feel about it.
But hey, they wanted to be in the picture so they're cool.

Poor Iliana.
She didn't realize what she had gotten herself into.


 ^^^ It kind of became tradition, ok?

And these ^^^ are the awesome people I got to spend my week with.

And then there's me.
hey boys hey.

These two photos...just make me laugh.
OF COURSE he wasn't looking.
And of course this is how I reacted.

give me back my camera...please?

I just super lucked out with these people.

The day ended with a beautiful sunset and us walking down a sketchy road to catch our bus back home. Which in all reality became a sort of theme of the vacation. Us. Walking in sketchy areas. Good times. GOOD times.

peace and laundry
my clothes are literally hanging on every possible area of our apartment. these ukrainians i live with are way too good to me.