Monday, November 2, 2009

When Pigs Fly

This past week we had our second (and last) vacation until the end of the semester. Three of us took an overnight train to a city in western Ukraine called Lviv. The day before we were supposed to come back to Kiev, swine flu hit the West big time. Everybody in the city walked around wearing surgical masks, or with a scarf over their faces. We got back to Kiev early Halloween morning, assuming that Kiev would be calmer since it's not in the West. No such luck. When we got home, we found out that the government imposed a 3-week forced vacation for all schools and the university. Normally, this would be the answer to every child's prayers. Unfortunately, vacation is not so exciting when it is -2 degrees Celsius outside, and the government has closed all restaurants, businesses, museums, stores, cafes, clubs, theaters, cinemas, etc. Public gatherings are illegal, so church (at least FHE and Institute classes), parties, etc. are officially against the law. Several girls' host families aren't even letting them leave their houses, and one girl has to wear a garlic necklace. Please note that almost everybody is going around in surgical masks. On Friday, the last mask in Kiev was sold for a hundred bucks. Pharmacies are closing because they are out of medicine, and the ones that still have drugs have inflated prices by about 500%. The government isn't letting anybody in or out of the country, except for "pressing business." There is talk of closing the borders of our city as well.

Hysteria at it's best.

So what does this actually mean for me? Three weeks of mind-crunching boredom. At first I was really excited to have our one-week vacation extended to a month, but it looks like it's not going to be the prayed-for vacation that I thought it would be. It's too cold to play outside, and there's nowhere we can go inside since everything's shut. So far I have read about half of "Mansfield Park," and a few of us are hanging out at one of the schools learning dances on YouTube and eating brownie mix. I don't know what we're going to do once all the brownie mix is gone...

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