Some family history

My most recent experience in NYC was in the summer of 2012. I was doing the “touristy” thing with my cousins, aunt & uncle. We only had a quick weekend before our trip to Europe so crammed a few things in before we went overseas.

 

 

We went to Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and, of course, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Ellis Island is my favorite place to visit because that was where my grandparents went when they first came to America. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to meet them because my grandpa died when my dad was four and his mom died when he was twenty.

 

 

In the early 1950’s my grandparents, Igor & Nina Kubik made it to America from Europe. They were both taken from their homes in what is now Ukraine as teenagers during WWII. They had survived through the horrible famine as kids and did not have an easy life.

My uncle Victor has put together a website that has a lot of our family history.

 

 

I am so grateful to have grandparents who were so courageous and through their hardship were able to make it over to America to give their children a better life. 

Visiting my brother

In January 2016 I was able to visit my brother for about five days while he was living and volunteering in Ukraine. He was working at a center that helps children who have physical and mental disabilities. He stayed for a year and is now currently (April 2017) back over there serving as a volunteer for the Peace Corps which will go for a little over two more years. 

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When I was there I spent a day at the school where he worked. He did a bunch of odd jobs and the staff and kids there absolutely LOVED him. It was fun to see him speak fluent Russian and interact so well with everyone. I toured the center, colored with some of the kids, and listened to their music classes.

In Chernihiv I could get a meal and drinks for under $5. We went ice-skating ($0.25), walked around the city, met his friends, and just explored. It was fun to see his day to day life over there. On the last few days we bused over to Kyiv which was just over an hour from his town and stayed in a hostel. We met some other travelers and went out with them that night. We walked all over which is my favorite thing to do in any new city.

I am really proud of my brother for all of the work he has done and the dedication he has put into volunteering in Ukraine. He is now fluent in Ukrainian and Russian and will soon be living in a little village of 1,300 people near the border of Moldova. He will work at a school, help teach English, and start up some clubs for the 130 students who attend the only school in the area.

To see more about what he is currently doing you can find his blog here.

Europe cures the winter blues

When I went to Europe in January 2016 I was broke. I was working two part-time jobs while also paying the bare minimum on my student loans. I didn’t have much leftover to really go outside of Seattle. So I bought some yarn and I saved up about $1,500 by selling crocheted items during the two months before my trip. I told myself I would have 100% of that money go to my “travel fund” and it worked!

So I took two (unpaid) weeks off in January & planned a trip to visit some friends and family who lived abroad. I am very fortunate to have connections in other countries and a place to stay when needed.

Did you know there are CHEAP flights to Sweden? Through Norwegian Air I could get a one way ticket from Oakland to Stockholm for $240. I would spend a weekend there & continue on to Germany, Ukraine, & England. Random, right? My credit card company thought so as well and stopped processing my flights as I was booking them.

Thanks to my dad and his love for planning travel itineraries I could make it work. After multiple phone calls to my bank, talking to my dad on the phone for two hours to get it all sorted, basically breaking my laptop while opening tab after tab after tab, and a LOT of patience it was set:

  • Flight 1: Seattle to Oakland for a quick layover – $90
  • Flight 2: Oakland to Arlanda (Stockholm) – $240
  • Flight 3: Arlanda to Frankfurt – $130
  • Flight 4: Frankfurt to Kiev – $120
  • Flight 5: Kiev to London – $75
  • Flight 6: London to LAX – $330
  • Flight 7: LAX to Seattle – $110
  • Total price: $1,095

So why this trip? I had a place to sleep everywhere I went. During those two weeks I stayed in a hostel ONCE in Ukraine, TWICE in Germany, and ONCE in London. I KNOW that this is not something everyone can do so I am very thankful for the family and friends that took me in. Thanks to Anna, Jim, Babsy, Colin, Stacey, & Nicola.

**More stories shown under the Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, & England tabs. 

Meeting my Ukrainian family

Have you ever been to a rock-folk music festival? It was so fun spending a summer evening at a show where everyone was dressed in punk and Gothic clothing while drinking cheap beers. I was dancing around with my little brother and cousins without a care in the world. During the summer of 2012 I spent a few weeks in Ukraine. For about a week or so my brother Colin, cousin Natasha, and uncle Oleh, and I took a bus over to Dubno to visit some of our extended cousins, Oleya and Vasil and their daughter Tania. They lived just outside of town in a cozy little home.

Instead of giving out Christmas presents the previous year, my family decided to donate money to them so that they could have their first toilet and bathtub installed. It’s very common to just have an outhouse outside and so they were very grateful. They were really excited to show it off to us. They were great hosts and seemed to really enjoy showing us around the town and gave us TONS of candy. We went to the Dubno castle, went to a church service, and went in the Spring of St. Anna 

I’m really glad that I had to the opportunity to visit our family and see the roots of my heritage. By visiting them I am even more grateful, despite the politics and craziness, to be an American. The family we visited don’t have the privileges that we as Americans do. It was a humbling experience to see where the Kubik family came from.

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