Sunday, December 29, 2013

dating guidelines. kinda.

Since I've already admitted to using and enjoying the social media dating application known as Tinder, I've decided to give a little inside advice about it, or at least the guidelines that I think all users should have to follow in order to use it. I mean, I've been on it for almost a week now so I'm completely qualified to do this. Yes, these are my personal views and/or opinions. And yes, they are right. So here you go.

A Guide Through Tinder: Get the Fire Started by Rachel Weiler
All observations come from a girl's first impressions of Tinder. Buckle up boys.

1. Dress to Impress.
You are strong. You like to lift. You have muscles. And that picture of you carrying a dead yak obviously tells me that you could carry me over the threshold of our home once we are married. I appreciate this. I appreciate this a lot. But I have yet to swipe right on a guy who is shirtless and flexing in more than one of his pictures. I'll allow one because I's nice sometimes.

2. Quality Matters.
If the first photo I see of you is grainy and dark, I swipe left without even thinking twice. But no matter what your interests or distance or little bio with a quote from a TV show I don't know says, if you have a high quality picture, I WILL stop and think twice. I'll probably click to see your other pictures as well. So leave the mirror selfie for when we're a couple and we go shopping together and you need me to see how ridiculous the tie die pants I picked out for you are and you don't want to come out of the changing room.

We all do it.

"Am I wearing booty shorts and a cupcake top?" mirror selfie.

3. It's who you know.
As the Spice Girls would say, "If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends." Buddy, the more mutual friends we have, the better. In fact, that is my key deciding factor. In my head, the more friends we have in common, the less of a stranger you are and the less creepy it is for me to be talking with you/making plans to meet. "No, I'm not planning to go spend time with a complete stranger. I'm going to spend time with this guy who is friends with that one person I met in a gas station on my way to Canada three years ago. It's basically like we know each other already. #soulmates."

4. First Encounter
If we've matched, I'm waiting for you to message. Sorry. I just am. I mean, I've already given you the assurance that I think you're cute. So be brave. Sara Bereilles will be proud. Do it. Talk to me. I'm not as scary as everyone apparently thinks I am (which is a post for a different day) and will probably just end up rambling about how I smashed a raw egg on my head for Christmas. Maybe you saw it?

And yes, I did talk about this with a Tinder match. We aren't talking anymore.

5. Be Sharp, not Dull
I have been highly impressed with a few of the gentlemen who have struck up conversation with me on Tinder. When the response makes me laugh, I message back immediately. If the conversation starter is "Hey, *insert some sort of comment on my physical appearance*" I don't respond.

Sheesh. That came across cold. Maybe I'm scarier than I think I am.

6. It Stays Within Tinder
On the occasion that I come across someone I know outside of Tinder, I swipe left. There are a few arguments for and against this going around in my head, but if he hasn't asked you out in person already, and he's on Tinder, then there's probably not much use in it, right? Unless of course you just want to see if they'd respond the same way. Or you have previously agreed to swipe right for each other. Which, contrary to popular belief, is not pathetic and sad.

Well, there you have it. The foolproof and effective way of using Tinder. You know what's interesting? Most all of these guidelines can somehow apply to dating in real life. So you are welcome. I've just handed you the key to success in

How wonderful for you.

peace and turtle necks
i. love. these. things.


Monday, December 23, 2013


You know those moments when you realize something about yourself that you really wish you hadn't realized because living in denial is better than accepting them? ...take a moment and go read that again. I mean, I have this mental image of who I am and I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty dang sophisticated, funny, and charismatic in my head. And then I realize who I actually am and my mental-me just goes "Ah Rach.....really?" Well, this week the real me had to respond to mental-me with an ashamed "Yeah. Really." Here are a few of those things that caused me to wonder at myself.

*I like Katy Perry. I do. I've resisted so hard for so long but honestly, I just can't help letting my inner lioness sing along when I hear "Roar" on the radio. And there's no way to not love "Unconditionally," especially when your dad suddenly makes it a song about your favorite type of hair product.

*I'm that person in the movie theater that laughs. Out loud. And gets the over the shoulder look from the people in front of her. I don't know when this started happening, but it just did. I swear it was just yesterday that I was a moody teenager who never wanted anyone to know she had emotions. Besides moody of course.

*I'm done being single. gasp. I know, I know. I had that whole "#singleforlife" hashtag thing going and it's kind of a taboo thing for someone to actually admit. Maybe it's just all of the Hallmark Channel movies about people being reunited with that person they've always loved during the most romantic time of the year. Or all the twinkle lights. I swear. Twinkle lights were invented to make you want to cuddle. I hate them. But I love them. Oh so much.

Anyway, what was I saying before I made twinkle lights my arch nemesis? Oh yeah. Taking a break from singlehood. Thus...

*I'm on Tinder. YOU GUYS. I'm on Tinder. I don't even know what to think about myself right now. And in all reality, I'm terrible at it. It is so stressful and I can't ever swipe either way without messaging my best friend (who got me into it in the first place) asking what the social protocol is. But dang, it's pretty fun. This is also my public apology for calling it "morally repugnant." My words can't get down my throat fast enough.

*I fought really hard at a white elephant gift exchange for this.

And then took way too many self timer pictures with it. These are 4 of...more than 4.
ps. to my future roommates. Is it ok if he moves in with me? He could be our mascot. Or protector. Or friend. I mean, once you see his chest you will understand. Promise. Ok. Thanks.

Yeah, that whole "let's not be single anymore" thing is just going to take off. I know it.

Well, I'm done voluntarily humiliating myself. How many times did you wince for me? Or blush and wish it were over? Probably not more than my mental-me. She's wondering why the heck I even put this post together. Dang it, I can't be as classy as you, ok!

And now I'm talking to myself. 
22 is going to be a good year.

Oh, and I also realized that I cannot wear tights without getting holes/runs in them. #stayclassyfolks

peace and birthday banners
no my birthday related posts will never end.


Thursday, December 19, 2013


I'm home. I've met my nephew, I've slept in my bed, I've shared my chocolate, I've driven my car, I've had conversations with strangers just because I can, I've been given a new phone (my parents are the best), and I've teased/been teased by my sister. It feels good. I like being home.

But man do I miss it. I woke up today (bright and early because that's just what my body does now) and it hit me. For the first time I woke up with that terrible, overwhelming feeling of...responsibility. I mean sure, I was responsible for the education and lives of 19 children every day, but that pales in comparison to the responsibility of choosing what filter to put in my Instagram post.

I think I went with Amaro.

Life was easier in Ukraine. All I had to worry about was if my passport was going to be stolen, whether or not I could outrun the man staring at me on the mashrutka/following me around McDonalds, bomb threats in the metro, and fitting all the chocolate in my backpack. Ok, that last one was actually pretty stressful. (and do you realize I talk about chocolate literally every time I "social media" (and yes, i just made "social media" a verb)

The point is there are things here that I have to think about that I haven't had to think about in a long time. And actually kind of serious things. 

What? I can be serious. Sometimes.

Like how I am so serious that Tyrone Wells' Christmas album is bringing me immense joy right now. Look it up if you want to be happy. And if you don't want to be happy then I have chocolate for you. (there i go again...) Also, if you're not happy and need a self-esteem boost, I suggest leaving the country for 3 months and then coming home a day before your birthday. People are so nice.

peace and 22
thank you so much for all the birthday wishes.


Sunday, December 15, 2013


A little less than a month ago I was in the store to buy coconut cookies, vegetable oil and lemons for my host family. They had given me money and a good pat on the back with the encouragement, "You can do it!" and sent me on my way. Now, if you know me, you already know where this is going.

I was stressed out of my mind. Not only was I in the grocery store (my least favorite place on the planet) but I was in a Ukrainian grocery store and had no idea what was going on anywhere. I'll save you the sob story of picking which bread to buy and get to the point though.

There was a problem of some sort when I went to checkout and my lemons were confiscated, which was distressing to me because I really needed them. But guess what? Saying "No, I really need those lemons. I want to buy them. Those are my lemons." Over and over and over in English does you little good in this type of situation.

Finally the woman behind me, taking pity on the flailing American girl, explained what was wrong in her broken English. It was an easy to solve problem and I thanked her for her help, smiling at her little kids who were staring at me like I was some sort of foreign alien. oh wait. As I was about to leave, however, the woman stopped me and asked, "Why are you here? Why are you here, alone, so far from home?" All the Ukrainians in my line and the line over kind of stopped to lean in and listen.

What was I supposed to say? I had three seconds to answer her with simple English while I struggled to stuff all my items in my backpack.

I'm here to learn and change. I'm here to struggle and grow. I'm here to be happy. I'm here to realize how fortunate my life has been and how much I love my family. I'm here to feel incredible love for people I never even knew existed. I'm here to eat borscht and syrniki and liver and fish and chocolate. I'm here to learn how to get along with people. I'm here to gain confidence in myself and my decisions. I'm here to wear the same clothes over and over and over and realize that that's ok. I'm here to travel and see how much bigger the world is than just Utah. I'm here to make memories and friends. I'm here to fall in love with 19 children and hold them on my lap and sing Jingle Bells a dozen times a day. I'm here to rely on Christ and witness tender mercy after tender mercy happen everyday. I'm here to realize how much I love this world.

But as this went zooming through my head I realized I only had two seconds left, so I responded, "I'm here to teach English."

I was here to teach English.

Dasvidanya Ukraine.

Friday, December 13, 2013

rachel: an analysis

Today was rough. I cried. And probably scared all the little children because suddenly Ms. Waychel had black tears coming out of her eyes. Good note to end on right? I thought so.

I head back to America in 2 days and 9 hours. Or something like that, depending on what time zone we're working with. But I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how my experience in Ukraine has changed me and what I've learned here. And because this is a personal blog in which to share personal things I'm going to expound on my personal thoughts on the matter. Prepare yourself.

The picture on the left was the last time I was in America. It was 5 in the morning and I had been crying. 
The picture on the right was today in Ukraine. It was 1 in the afternoon and I had been crying.

Let's call them pre and post Ukraine Rachel. (A heads up- there's going to be a lot of 3rd person in this post.) 
And we begin.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel was slightly scared of public transportation. Especially the kind that takes place underground. Post-Ukraine Rachel feels so comfortable on the metro that she often nods off and misses her exit station.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel liked to shave almost every day. Post-Ukraine Rachel wonders why the heck she used to do that.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel rarely ever, EVER ate fish. Post-Ukraine Rachel eats it for breakfast and isn't even phased by having to pull the bones out of her teeth because I mean, who needs a previously de-boned fish? Gollum sure didn't. And look how he turned...nevermind.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel had a huge incision and stitches all up in her lip. Post-Ukraine Rachel's lips have never been better. #winkyface

Pre-Ukraine Rachel didn't speak Russian. Post-Ukraine Rachel doesn't either.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel had about 700 photos of herself on facebook. Post-Ukraine Rachel has 1,364. 

Pre-Ukraine Rachel never really cared for ballet. Post-Ukraine Rachel has decided that her children will study ballet from the time they can walk and she will be the crazy mom who lives vicariously through her children.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel stomped her feet on the mat at the door and called it good. Post-Ukraine Rachel cannot enter a home without taking her shoes off.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel thought she liked chocolate. Post-Ukraine Rachel realizes she had been living in the dark for far too long.

Pre-Ukraine Rachel had never had alcohol before...

peace and alcohol filled chocolates.
i didn't realize until after i had one! i swear! the word of wisdom is true.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

winter wonderland

I've typed and retyped the opening paragraph for this post about 8 different times. Nothing's working for me. So I'm just going to cut to the chase and post the pictures.

I had a happy afternoon with my co teacher Amanda at the last stop on the metro. We're rebellious. 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas/I'll be home for Christmas/Walking in a winter wonderland/Santa Baby?

peace and sweater boots


Monday, December 9, 2013


Souvenir shopping is maybe one of the most stressful things I have ever participated in. I mean, you spend 3 months in a place having life changing experiences and meeting some of the best people in the world and then you're supposed to go buy a trinket of some sort, that has to fit in a carry-on and weigh less than a loaf of bread, to remember everything by? It's ridiculous! I can't stand for it! I'm going to start a protest! (sorry. the whole protest thing is kind of in my system right now)

But still. I go and roam the streets in the snow with the wind blowing and the air so cold my fingers start to swell because dang it that key chain made of meat is going to remind me of my love for Ukraine.

No. Like, it actually would.

So now I have a little pile of treats, toys, and fur sitting next to my bed. i swear it's not the easter bunny. I'm seriously considering moving them to the foot of the bed just so that when I wake up every morning I feel like I'm in a Hogwarts Christmas. I'm not going to tell you what I've got because some of them might be surprises for some of you. Aka Cooper. My adorable baby nephew. Who, now that I'm thinking about it, probably isn't reading this. Oh well.

Instead, I'm going to list a few of the things I wish I could bring home as souvenirs, but can't because airplanes aren't big enough and I'd be arrested for kidnapping. Or something lame like that.

1. My kids. They tease and smile and sing and shout and wrap their hands in my hair and show me their little toys and jump for joy when we pull out stickers. They hug my legs and hold my hands and sit on my knees and lay in my lap. I almost started crying while we were singing BINGO because it hit me that I'm leaving them soon. I don't want to. Don't make me.

2. The metro/marshrutkas. Public transportation was probably one of my biggest worries coming to Kiev. Because let's face it, it doesn't exist in Utah. Or...I've just never used it in Utah. Anyway, these modes of transportation are fun. Whether it's listening to someone play the accordion, eliminating all sense of personal space with complete strangers, having someone try to sell you glue, or making awkward eye contact with that man 14 times because you just have no where else to look, it's an adventure. This is where you see the people. It's completely fascinating.

3. My host family's potato shredder. Seriously. It means business and I love it.

4. The windows. They are ingenious and I have no idea how they work, but depending on how you turn the handle, they either open like a door or from the top like the little slot you drop your library books in to return them. I know I did such a great job explaining that so I guess I don't need to bring one back for you to see anymore. Well done Rach.

5. The towel rack. It's this set of metal bars with hot water running through them so your towel is warm when you go to use it. I also use it to dry my socks.

6. 50 cent ice cream cones from McDonald's that take more than half a breath to eat.

7. Actually, just McDonald's in general. I'm not kidding you when I say that they are nicer than a sit down restaurant in America. It is the place for all the classiest people to be. So obviously I'm there regularly. not really. don't judge me.

8. Spray-on deodorant. Oh wait. I am bringing that home.

9. My kids. mykids mykids mykids.

peace and butter.
that's better here too.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

power of the people

A little over a month ago I was extremely fortunate to attend the World Cup qualifying soccer match between Ukraine and France. This was THE game to be at and there I was, a little American girl who had never lived outside of Utah, sitting with my host dad and his buddies along with the thousands of Ukrainians that filled the stadium. I stood and listened with awe as a 70,000 voice choir of Ukrainians gave the the loudest, proudest rendition of a national anthem I have ever heard. It was maybe the most intimidating and impressive encounter I've yet to witness.

And then, during the second half, we scored.

I was enveloped in a Ukrainian bear hug of grown men and lifted up off my feet. Beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic (but mostly alcoholic) were flung through the air. Sunflower seeds rained from the sky and canons went off while the colors yellow and blue filled every angle of vision. It was in this moment, when I was literally embraced by Ukraine, that I realized just how much I love this country.

This last week has been an upsetting one in the world of Ukrainian politics. The president, Viktor Yanukovych, did as selfish, corrupt people do and refused to sign trade agreements with the European Union, despite the fact that the vast majority of Ukrainian citizens are desperate to build such bridges with the EU. Yanukovych has said that Ukraine cannot afford to lose ties with Russia at this time. Translated, that means that Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, wants Ukraine back under his jurisdiction and will pay Yanukovych a heck of a lot of gryvna to keep it that way.

Ukraine has been an independent country for the same amount of time I have been alive. The older generation here remembers living under the Soviet Union and participating in the vote for independence in 1991. I can see how hard they have worked and continue to work by their worn faces and callused hands. They've lived with struggles and unfairness that I've only ever seen in movies. That I've paid to view as a form of entertainment.

And their struggles continue.

Right now, as I type, over 300,000 people are occupying the center of Kiev in protest to the actions of the government. These protests have been going all week. Yesterday, early in the morning, the police were sent to beat up and break up the protesters. Obviously they had little success.

All I want to do is go and be with these people who are standing up for themselves and their country. I want to wave my Ukrainian flag and add my voice to the chant "This is not for us. This is for our children!" that is the mantra of the mob. I want to be a part of this event that is so much bigger than myself.

But I can't. There are too many people, governments and organizations telling me that to do so would be stupid. The only one I'm really listening to is my mom back in America though.

I hope the people here realize what they can do. I hope they understand the impact their actions, choices, and voices can make. They've certainly impacted me. They've helped me in the grocery store, translated for me in the marshrutkas, pointed me in the direction of the metro, and carried my luggage up stairs. They are good, caring people who are proud of their independence.

That night I heard them singing their national anthem with hands to their chests was the night I realized just how real the power of the people can be. And these people? They have power. They are Ukrainian.

украинский слава!