Around three months ago, I left the comforts of home behind for a year of adventure and soul-searching. I’ve done my best to immerse myself in a foreign culture; attempted to broach the secrets of a foreign tongue. I certainly could have been more diligent in my languages studies, but the requisite motivation is too often a bucket filled with drops (in a desert desperately thirsting for rainfall amidst a dust bowl). I read and understood a fair amount and I can say enough to participate in everyday commerce and transportation. For the most part, I have adjusted as well as I could have hoped. Most importantly, I’m not overly homesick, which is rather fortunate since I have no intention of braving the Atlantic while mid-stream in my Fulbright year.
Leaving the comforts of home has necessitated a Spiderman-style “with great power comes great responsibility” uptick in maturity levels. I am, after all, renting and living in my own apartment for the first time in my life. In other words, I’ve been entrapped by the full trappings of adulthood – cooking and cleaning! All too often I find myself sacrificing R&R for C&C.
Recently,I have developed a keen interest in the local real estate market. My rent seems to be market value for my apartment, but only as it exists on paper. In reality, the broken washing machine and clutter-filled bedroom that reduces my two-room apartment to a living room and a bed do not seem to be worth what I’m paying by any stretch of the imagination. My malfunctioning half-broken washing machine has already ruined a couple of shirts beyond recognition. My farewell with my favorite yellow-shirt will have to be of the closed-casket variety. I bough it in Korea this summer and it is already out of commission. Alas. Faulty appliances and my innate carelessness and ineptitude have proven to be a recipe for disaster.
Speaking of recipes, there is no one but myself & I to feed me. I spent the first month making sandwiches, spreading Nutella, and eating greasy street food. Two month later, I’ve added two new skills to my cooking repertoire: frying and boiling. I buy & fry eggs, sausages, and fries; I boil pasta, pelmeni, and varenyky. Pelmeni and varenyky are dumplings stuffed with various chicken, pork, cheese, potatoes, or cabbage. I prefer the chicken and cheese varieties. No one has conclusively explained to me the differences between pelmeni and varenyky and wikipedia is inaccessible at the moment. Per my experience and observation, verenyiky are bigger and Ukrainian, while pelmeni are smaller and Russian. That may or may not be true. Regardless, they are delicious and easy to make. I prefer the bite-size pelmeni.
My diet consists almost exclusively of carbs, meat, diary, and sweets. I occasionally eat a fruit here and there, but it’s probably been a full month since I’ve eaten a vegetable. And best of all, I’ve shed 5 kilograms (11 lb.) during my time here. My car is 5000 miles away and the food here isn’t as processed or saturated with chemicals as the food back home. It’s great! I can eat absolutely anything as long as I walk around.