The 1,000 page novel Don Quixote is divided into (as I recall) three different “Sallies”, or three separate occasions on which the titular knight ventures out into the world. My projected time in Ukraine can be divided into two sallies, roughly corresponding to the semesters of the academic year. Now, with December advancing, I’m a week away from the conclusion of my first sally and my return home to spend Christmas, New Year’s, and the better part of January home in Madison. My final week of teaching will be a whirlwind of final projects, final exams, and giving my room a thorough cleaning with whatever chemicals and tools I can piece together.
The last week or so has actually been quite relaxing. I’ve been spending more time than usual just hanging out in some of Lviv’s many coffee shops, drinking a series of excellent lattes and reading or writing. I’ve adopted the habit of writing in a journal during my international travels, and I have a very nice leather-bound one I bought off Etsy before leaving the U.S.
Lviv coffee is fantastic, but it’s European style, focusing on a variety of espresso drinks rather than honest, old-fashioned drip coffee. As a result, while I love a good espresso concoction, I’m actually looking forward to having some good, old-fashioned, burnt-bean Starbucks java when get home for the holidays.
On the other hand, the cafes in Lviv are quite a bit more comfortable than comparable ones in the U.S. They extend deeper, with more nooks and crannies to hide in, and have plusher chairs and softer music. The decorations and the overall sense of aesthetic tend to be more lavish. I suspect a Lviv-style coffee house could do good business in a booming city like Madison, particularly if we managed to put a literary spin on it by having a robust lending library. Something to consider if I ever decide to be an entrepreneur.
Do I have any thoughts on teaching, now that the semester is nearly over? None that are very cohesive. I’ll have time to meditate on it next weekend, which I’ll be spending in Krakow. At the moment, I’ll just say that I feel I’ve gotten pretty good at the basics: putting together a class and running it. Next semester will involve more goal-setting and work to have a class that’s not only functional, but optimized. Basic competency is a good and necessary thing, but there’s a long way to go beyond it.
I don’t think it’s what I want to do full-time for the rest of my life, but I do enjoy teaching quite a bit. I plan to make it a permanent feature of my life going forward, even if its only as a side gig.
That’s far from the only thing, or even the most important thing, I’ve learned in my first 3.5 months in Ukraine. It’s just the easiest to put into words.
I’m heading out again to the city center for another couple hours on the books ‘n’ coffee train, followed by shopping with some other English speakers at Lviv’s Christmas market. Hopefully I can get everything crossed of my list (I’m checking it twice), and come home with a full sack of Christmas cheer for my clan.
A joyous Advent to all!