“Settling In”

It has been five weeks since we arrived to Kiev and I guess we are “getting settled”, although that doesn’t mean life is normal or routine. Things are so very different. Not knowing the language is my biggest set back. Thankfully Chris has been studying the Russian language long enough to help us all get by. He doesn’t feel he has mastered it by any means, but it is a huge relief for me to have him since I can’t ask questions, prices, directions, or much of anything. I went from being independent while he was away last year, to being very dependent once we arrived here. It is very humbling and I hope to remember this feeling in the future so I can be more sympathetic to someone who may not speak much English in my home country.

I am thankful we arrived early in the summer! We have this time to adjust and explore before settling in to a school schedule. The kids went to a Christian camp just 10 days after arriving. They made new friends, including some whom will be at the new school. It was overnight Monday through Saturday. They admitted that they could have stayed longer, but threw in the phrase, “but visited you on the weekend” to help me feel better. They aren’t the clingy or homesick type. I wasn’t too worried about them from that aspect. It was Aiden’s first time at sleep away camp. He was itching for a turn since the girls had both experienced it before. I think this was Adeline’s 3rd time, and Ellie’s 2nd time. I was pleased they could all attend during the same week.

We walk a lot and take public transportation here. Our van was shipped out of the San Fransisco, CA area, but I don’t know when to expect it. We mostly ride the Metro, but sometimes take a bus. It is totally different bringing home groceries by hand/stroller! Each outing takes longer than a predictable trip to the store in my mini-van would. The sidewalks aren’t stroller friendly with ramps at each intersection. There are lots of stairs since you go down a staircase to cross under large intersections, then come up another set of stairs to get to street level. This is aggravating with four kids and the stroller being weighed down with groceries. Just this week, Niya was walking home since we needed her seat for the watermelon and two kids would lift the front of the stroller to go up and down stairs, while Ellie held Niya’s hand. It was super hot, crowded, heavy and just plain irritating. It made me say I am never going out for groceries without Chris again, but in reality, I have to. He gets home late, and with small loads, it is impractical to only go once a week on Saturdays. Plus, that isn’t how we want to spend his day off. Instead, I am going to try ordering online next time. One of my friends does this and her four kids are younger than mine. I just have to wait for Chris to confirm I have ordered chicken and not chicken hearts, etc. before submitting the order!

We see strange things at the store here. On the grocery store page I have seen chicken stomach, hearts, heads, kidneys, neck, liver, feet, cow tail, tongue, udder, pig ears, legs, feet. I know many of these are sold in the States too, but just being able to buy stomachs by the package is odd to me. The frozen section has literal bins of frozen items, unpackaged. Want broccoli? It is individually frozen, but you get the bag and determine the amount. Fish? Same thing. Bin after bin of frozen filets, unpackaged. I don’t know how long the grocery store concept has been around in this country, but the old-fashioned markets are alive and well too. So are the street vendors. Produce is commonly sold in indoor and outdoor markets. Tables by the 100’s of basically the same thing over and over. How do you decide where to shop when 75 of the 100 tables have the same fruit and veggies? I am amazed that they make enough money to do it again and again when they don’t have a specialty item, but they must! Need flowers on the street corner? What about grandma selling berries, or a lone (dead) chicken in a plastic bag? I guarantee you will find it all and more when you come to visit us here! Oh yeah, no, you don’t know how long it has been dead, and no, it isn’t refrigerated.

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3 Responses to “Settling In”

  1. Linda says:

    Wow, you are having a culture shock for sure. But what memories you will have of Ukraine. I can’t imagine food not packaged. Our packaging sometimes costs more than what is inside. Do they have any brand names? I will pray you get your van soon. Are there any fast food joints?
    Linda Seiffer

    • bergfam5 says:

      Yes, there are brands we recognize like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Loreal, Tide, Pampers, Huggies, Adidas, Nike, and more. So far I have seen McDonalds and TGIF for restaurant chains. They have their own types of fast food, but I haven’t seen any drive thrus. Their fast food comes from small booths/kiosks where you walk up to the window at the sidewalk and there is a smaller selection of menu items available.

  2. Sherry Allen says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write your blog, Wendy! I’m picturing all that you have described and thinking that you are so courageous! I’m not sure I would even be brave enough to purchase the food, especially the meat! It sounds like the children are a big help to you when navigating the public transportation. P.S. Jason and Amanda are expecting baby #2 in January. 🙂

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