Category Archives: the basics

Україна | Reach out.

Continuing on with my recent Ukrainian observations – Relationships 101, a very brief look at Ukrainian encounters .

5. I had read in Lonely Planet that many people throughout Ukraine are more generous than they can afford to be. There is so much truth to this! The Ukrainian economy is not strong; most live on less than $200 CDN per month. Yet the hospitality and kindness of people I have met continues to amaze me. Slava feeds me all day long, from breakfast til bedtime. Literally. Ira went out of her way to invite Jessica and I on her class trip to the Carpathian Mountains (a three day adventure complete with several 16 year old companions). Katia arranged for her friends – complete strangers to us – to take us out one night when she had to cancel. Our tutors, all of them, bent over backwards to make this entire experience less overwhelming. I appreciated everything.

7. Grandmothers (also known as babas, or babusias) are highly respected in Ukrainian society. They work hard to maintain close familial connections, and their children as well as grandchildren seem to honour this. (Side note: women also outlive men. Women are expected to live well past 70+ years, while the odds of men living past the age of 60 are low – alcoholism is a national concern.)

8. There is always more room on the bus. “Personal space” means getting to know your neighbour far better than you would like to. Think of the bus as a cage packed with animals, pressed up against one another, sweating onto each other, and that is just the way it goes. Shut up and move on back, to make a bit more room for a few more.

25. I look forward to my regular nightly tea dates with Slava. I am grateful for the unique friendship that we have built over endless charades, drawings, and reliance on our trusty Ukrainian-English dictionaries.

50. We all need a little more lovin’. Hugs, smiles, quality time, a listening ear: a few minutes of your time can actually make a serious difference in someone else’s day. Phone calls from home or a picture from one of my girls at the Internat can carry me through til tomorrow. The little things matter; they really, really do.




What kind of encounters have you had with others while travelling?

How have they impacted you (then and now)?


Baby steps.

I swear I had good intentions, but didn’t exactly follow through with them.

Way back in October, I had lofty blog dreams. I like to think that I still do.  But these innocent aspirations were swiftly squashed by a hectic schedule and admittedly poor life/work balance as I scrounged for those last ounces necessary to conquer my undergraduate career once and for all. This blog, in its helpless infancy, was quickly and unfortunately discarded.

So — to make things short n’ sweet — I have recently reunited with my once forgotten and blatantly ignored blog-intentions. No more school = no more excuses.

Therefore, dear friends, please consider this my humble relaunch. I’m giving this another go. Stay tuned… I mean it this time.

My brief intentions.


If you’re reading this, you may have a few unanswered questions. Such as, who does this girl think she is? And what does she aim to do with this here blog? And what’s the point of reading what she has to say?! 

Unfortunately, I don’t have nice, neat, concise, or convenient answers to these questions. I am a twenty something almost-grad who considers herself a constant work in progress. And as for why I created this blog – I figured it was time to be proactive and (according to Nike) just do it. I thought that blogging would be a great way to share my thoughts and ideas, connect with others and begin to network, and spark a few conversations and/or debates.

So here I am, diving back in to the wonderful world of blogging. I have previously dabbled in the blogosphere, as I recently spent my summer volounteering in Western Ukraine and kept track of my (mis)adventures and experiences online. I have been procrastinating in terms of my so-called blog return, I wanted everything to be just right. Get all my ducks in a row before officially doing anything ‘permanent’ with a new Internet home. I wanted to have a snappy name, I wanted to have a specific audience in mind, I wanted to be crystal clear on what I wanted to achieve with a new blog.

However – I still don’t have a snappy name in mind, and am unsure as to who is really reading this. I hope that over time I will be able to narrow down my goals and ideas in regards to what I hope to learn and experience through blogging. But I did convince myself to just do it. To just take a leap, to fly by the seat of my sweatpants, and to get on with it. So it is what it is – and I hope that this space will evolve and grow as time goes on.

Enjoy the ride.

Closing time: an introduction of sorts.

Closing time, open all the doors/And let you out into the world

Over the next two months, I will be closing a significant chapter of my life and embarking on a terrifying, exhilarating new adventure. In other words: wrapping up my years as an undergraduate student and entering the Real World – a world of job hunting, soul searching, and important decisions. While I am looking forward to bidding adieu to the wonderful world of research papers, group presentations, and endless caffeinated nights, I am one hundred percent uncertain as to what I will be doing once January rolls around. Eep.

Don’t get me wrong – I have ideas of what I’d like to be doing. I am an idea machine, changing my mind regularly, constantly adding to my long list of Careers I’d Like to Pursue. My ideas are both short term and long term, realistic and ambitious. For example: obtaining a job within the social services field this winter, as most of my academic years have been spent studying Social Development [although my degree will technically read “Liberal Studies…” But that’s another story for another day]. Though the goal of working within social services is pretty realistic, it is also incredibly vague – where do I start? Loftier goals include eventually earning a Masters degree, maybe become a teacher/professor, maybe dabble in design, maybe start a non-profit organization of my own. These ideas are all valid, but for the most part are unlikely to take shape within the next few years.

In the meantime, I intend to continue learning about possibilities, exploring options, and building connections. I have blogged about my Ukrainian experiences recently, which is just one reason why I’m starting over here. New chapter, new adventures, brand new blog? Voila.

Stay tuned, check back often, and feel free to comment or connect with me over email via jendeweerd[at]gmail[dot]com.

Closing time, every new beginning/Comes from some other beginnings end.