Tomorrow evening I’ll head to Kiev for a meeting of the Special Needs Working Group. Peace Corps continues to impress me because of the amount of opportunities they have to get involved. I will be honest, I am lucky. I get along very well with my counterpart and he really wants to learn. I’ve mentioned it before, but seriously that really helps. I have friends who are not in the same situation. That is not anyone’s fault though really. We are all human. We have minds of our own. Things happen that are sometimes out of our control (wait, did I just throw three cliche statements out there? Sorry, wasn’t intentional). Regardless, that’s not the point. The point is: Even if things are not working out the way that a volunteer had initially planned, there are other options and other ways to still create and maintain a meaningful and impactful experience – hence the working groups. Also, it needs to be said that these are not in place as “alternatives,” these groups are in place because there are country-wide needs that many volunteers address. Having a (think umbrella organization) group in country to provide support is a fantastic way to continually contribute.
Now on to traveling in Ukraine. There are multiple options to do so: taxi, marshrutka taxi, bus, trolley bus, tram, electric train, and multiple variations of the passenger train. Rather than go into a lengthy explanation of what those all entail (some are extremely entertaining from an American-with-a-sense-of-humor point of view…others are not) I’ll just introduce my method of transportation tomorrow: passenger train. Like many trains throughout the world, there are varying “levels” of car. For the sake of this, I’ll explain three of the options in Ukraine.
- 1st Class: Two beds in one cabin. High class stuff here. Compartment all to your own. Sweet deal…just shut the door and chill. Pricey.
- 2nd Class: Otherwise known as “Kupe.” Honestly, so far this is my preferred method. Four beds, a table, can close the door for some privacy if you want. Overall not a bad deal. Priced very reasonable…for the price and overall value, unless you absolutely hate people, rocking kupe is legit. Also comes with AC, so locking down a top shelf bunk is pretty clutch.
- 3rd Class: Platzkartny. Open, spacious, own bunk…and 53 other people. No AC. Now, I’ll be honest: I have not traveled this method before. Some people love it, some people hate it. My friend Amy could have a conversation with a blind mute and she absolutely loves traveling in platzkartny. She also typically provides food for the “picnic.” Most likely, I will not. Maybe a liter of beer and some dried fish/peanuts but that’s about all. Some people really dread traveling by themselves across country – not just in Ukraine. However, I refuse to psych myself out. So far everything has gone just fine – buying the tickets was way easier than I thought – and regardless, this will be a pretty cool experience. Hell, worst case scenario I “pretend” I know Russian – until someone figures it out – and get some good language practice in. Why not, right?