Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Evergreens and their special place in our heart

In this video we show you around our garden, but--more specifically--talk about all the evergreens we planted. The locals around here say that you shouldn't plant fir trees near your house because, when the trees surpasses you in height, you will DIE. Honestly, this seems like a hyper local superstition. We see evergreens planted near many people's houses in rural Ukraine. Is this something you've heard from people where you live?? Tell us about it!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Driving safety in Ukraine

Honestly, driving in Ukraine seems worse and more dangerous as a passenger. I was surprised when I got behind the wheel that it wasn't as challenging as I thought.

Still, there's a small percentage of "bad apples" out there, and you should be aware of them. One of the most common and most dangerous problems is when people pass in situations when they shouldn't. It creates the possibility of head on collisions, which are obviously one of the worst kinds of accidents. In this video, I talk about some of the defensive driving techniques I use to stay safe.

Of course, there's a lot more to talk about when it comes to driving in Ukraine (police, importing vehicles, bad roads, etc), but this video's main focus is driving safety (Please stay on topic in the comments section!). We may discuss some of those other aspects about driving in Ukraine in future posts.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Our Ukrainian-American identities

Considering that we are from different continents and have each spent significant time living abroad, you might say that we have trouble identifying exclusively with one culture. Yulia was born in Ukraine, immigrated to the US, and now lives back in Ukraine. Michael was born in the US, but spoke Ukrainian as a first language with his grandparents, who were immigrants. He's been living in Ukraine for the past 6 years.
We feel like our identities are stretched between the US and Ukraine, and neither of us nicely fits into a simple category. In this video we talk about our Ukrainian-American identities.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Lots of church holidays in Ukraine! [+Nature Vlog]

In this video, Michael discusses the abundance of small church holidays in Ukraine, which are especially important to people in the countryside.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Prosperity is not the same thing as technological progress (A perspective from an expat in Ukraine)

In this video, I talk about a somewhat complicated issue--the idea that technology and progress are not the same thing. I got the idea for the topic from a conversation that Yulia and I had about older generations in the West who experienced a simultaneous and coincidental rise in technology and progress in their lifetimes. Although people have learned to equate the two, I would argue that they are not always related to each other, which might explain why technology is currently getting better while people's quality of life is not keeping up. It's hard for young adults to find jobs and a place to live. lt seems that the average lifespan is actually declining. People are obligated to work hard for little money. Etc.

I turn to the example of Ukraine and the Soviet Union, and point out that, in the past, our village was much more prosperous. People of all ages were living here. There was a school and kindergarten. There was a medical clinic. People had jobs. The infrastructure was much better.

But if you come here now, you will notice that most houses are abandoned and that there are few people under retirement age. The infrastructure and buildings have decayed, and there are few functioning institutions left.

Despite this, there is more access to goods and services than ever before. For instance, there are more building materials than in this past. There are a wider variety of foods available at the store. We have 3g and high speed internet. Although there is more access to things that might theoretically enhance people's lives, technology hasn't necessarily lead to concrete improvements in people's lives.

While it is easy to see here, it might be harder for people living in wealthier countries. However, I think there are signs which point in this direction, and we should be aware of them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Our marriage: One big adventure

Ever since we got married, we've either been traveling to new places or doing new things together--like completely renovating an old house and creating a huge garden and orchard without any experience!

In this video, we talk about our travels to places like Chicago, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, New England, and Ukraine.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


It usually happens around this time of the year--exhaustion. Work in the garden really ramps up. Building projects take off. May's one of the busiest months of the year for us.

In this video, Michael talks about what we do that makes us so tired. After years of near constant daily work on the house and in the garden, we're ready to make our home a place of relaxation...