Two new coffee shops have opened up on my street in the last week. One is right down the block from a shop called Meat Loves Cheese, which I have yet to visit despite its tantalizing name. I make a mental note to put them all on my ‘to-do’ list, somewhere between the Kyiv breweries I need to hit up and the half dozen Ukrainian cities I still want to visit.
“Well, I guess that settles it,” I think as I walk by one of my favorite cafes, a converted London double-decker bus that I haven’t been able to visit in weeks. “I guess I’m going to have to stay in Kiev.”
Sometimes people ask me what expectations I had when I first decided to move to Kiev. And to be honest, I didn’t have any. I was following my then-boyfriend, who had work, and while I was vaguely concerned about the weather upon my arrival in February, I don’t remember having any other big expectations.
Despite a dismal March, this city snuggled its way into my heart and whispered the word “home” to me. And when my three months were up and I was on the train to Budapest, I had already made plans to move back to Kyiv to teach English in the fall.
But my return plan was always for one year only. I have a lot of world to see, and while I adore Kyiv, it’s not my forever home. And, to be honest, it hasn’t always been easy. I’m not just talking about slipping on the ice and having to wear an arm-length cast for two weeks or how the hot water tends to randomly shut off in the summer. I’m talking about teaching with depression, struggling with body issues as a result of constantly comparing myself to svelte Ukrainian women, waves of loneliness as friends continue to say goodbye and my social circle slowly shrinks.
But then suddenly, I had two months left. It was time to start planning for Life After Kyiv. My plan was to do the DELTA in Athens in October and November, then spend a long holiday at home before going… somewhere with a beach? Occasionally I’d mutter something about Vietnam when people pressed me about 2018, though that is a far stretch for me. I sent off my DELTA application but I started to fret. There was so much left to do here in Ukraine. The thought of only two more months sent me into a mild panic. And that’s when I realized—
So I’m not going to. I’m going to stay in Kiev through Christmas. And, to be honest, it was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made in an expat life that’s full of Big Decisions. I get to stay in my cozy and messy apartment that I love. I can continue to work with students and colleagues I respect. And I’ll be able to explore more of this beautiful and captivating country, including Ivano-Frankivsk, the Tunnel of Love, and getting back to Kharkiv. Not to mention all the brunches, cocktails, and cappuccinos I still have to try here in Kyiv.
There’s no perfect life, I am sure. But there are Good Decisions. And today, I think I’ve made one.
Six more months in Kyiv! Expect to see some posts here about horseback riding in the Carpathians, how to visit the Tunnel of Love, and what to do on your own trip to Ukraine. If you have any questions or anything you want to know about Ukraine, just leave me a note in the comments!
Heading to Ukraine? Check out more of my Ukraine travel tips!
And why can’t I seem to make up my mind about spelling it Kiev or Kyiv? It’s complicated. Basically, I spell it ‘Kyiv’ because that’s how the people who live there spell it and I want to respect that. I spell it ‘Kiev’ because that’s how people who don’t live there spell it and I need to show up in Google searches.