Vsiting Key West, Florida

The island of Key West brings up a desire to say 'to hell with it' and become a beach bum. Let's face it: it is a completely unrealistic idea a good poet would call utopia. But if you close your eyes and pretend for just a second that this life is indeed possible it'll make you all warm and fuzzy inside. We all need those moments of happiness in the flesh.

After a 10-hour work day we flew out to Fort Lauderdale, FL. A three and a half hour flight was not too bad except for the excruciating pain of my ears failing to pop and it being way past my bedtime (which is 9.30p and of that I'm proud). Once the rental car was picked up we started our journey to the wonderful island of Key West on what everyone I talked to said was suppose to be 'the most beautiful drive of your life'. I bet it was! It was a little bit difficult to appreciate considering the fact of it being in the middle of the night. My dedication to my lovely driver, aka amazing husband killed my ability to sleep. Not my desire - only my ability. Our 3.30am arrival will not be featured here, don't worry. 

Key West is a tiny but oh so beautiful island. Parking is a pain in this place so most tourists rent out little scooters and bikes. And oh my gosh! Scooters are so much fun - I can't even tell you! Especially when you drive down a breathtaking coast of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The island is a little gem of the Florida state. The richest arrive and buy out the houses, jacking up the living prices through the roof. Non-voluntarily you are spending $15-17 on a plain burger while trying to convince yourself that it tastes better than the one on the mainland. Living a lifestyle you can only afford for a weekend gives you a bit of a rush mixed with the terrifying fear of your credit card bill. Key West can mix those feelings up in a drink and sell it to your for $14 a shot.

Ernest Hemingway was finding himself in Key West as well for about 11 years. He left his estate in 1939 along with a bunch of famous works of his including 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' (thank you haunted ghost tour. It was super informative). I came to know so many random things on this tour like the fact that Hemingway's favorite cat looked like a cat in a tuxedo and his name was Christopher Columbus. The cat still haunts the guest house of the Hemingway estate (now a museum). 

Ah, Key West. The island of beauty, tiny population, and street chickens. I would probably move in a heartbeat (assuming I become filthy rich in the next heartbeat). There is only one thing that will hold my move back and that is a black mustang driving along Duval street blasting Russian rap. Yep, you read that correctly. Like any other tourist town this place is filled with people from all over the world. And while I embrace diversity and charge myself from it - being a part of a big post-soviet gang is not something I consider. I like that whenever I hear Ukrainian or Russian or even Polish in Nashville - I get very excited and nervous. It might be because my ego loves the uniqueness of it all or just because I don't want to be present and not participate, you know what I mean? If I chose to integrate - I have to do it fully.

I appreciate New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Key West too. As popular as those places are I don't think I would be ok with living in one of these. Once an expat you want to feel more like red, white, and blue and less like white-red (that's Poland) or blue-yellow-red (that's Moldova. Code of Arms is on it too. But you get my point). I want to save eating soup and bad mouthing passersby for when I am visiting home. Some things just have to stay there.

If you are planning on visiting Key West - do it. Account for all of your expenses and go because it is gorgeous and there is something about being on an island that makes you feel like 'Lost' and 'Gossip Girl' at the same time: tragic, messed up, but oh-so-pleasant to look at.

Age Perception in Ukraine vs. USA

alisa kaiser, ukrainian in the us, expat, expat life,
 @polinapodoprigora
Am I too old or too young? My planner is filled with stickers I bought a few months ago (through Amazon, of course. I don't want to do it in public, duh) and my favorite band is Thirty Seconds to Mars even though my passport says I am not 15 any more. On the other hand, my closet is hosting my professional dresses, blazers, and oh.my.god - tights. So what is age and why we (and by we I mean society) are so obsessed with it?

Let me take you on a little internet journey to Ukraine. I am almost 25, healthy (relatively), smart (eh), educated woman. I have a job and I pay my bills. What is wrong with me?
  • By 25 you should be married.
Whew, I am ok on that one.
  •  By 25 you should be with child already. Actually, you should be with your second child already. 
Did the world miss a part about the stickers? Or the fact that if there is Nutella on the table - I am not going to share? Or that I have a unicorn onesie? I am not suitable for children. I'll tell you more: if a girl at 26 is giving birth for the first time in Ukraine - the hospital is officially calling her "an old birth mother'. Yeah, let that sink in while I draw mustache on someone on my staff who fell asleep.
  • You should be living close to your parents because who else is going to help you take care of those babies? 
So basically the fact that a man can care for a child as much as a woman is not even under the microscope. That said, I know plenty of modern-day families who are rocking equality in child care. But it is assumed that a girl will need help from her mother or mother-in-law to care for a child 'cause 'she has never done it before'. I am not rejecting help in any way but this is kind of basic isn't it? I have never moved halfway across the world and look at me now! Or I never managed a hostel and I am doing alright. If I can manage drunken bachelors I think I can handle a kid. We will find that out - stay tuned for the next X years.

Let us fly our imaginary internet plane to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, aka the USA. I am still 25, still relatively healthy, still paying my bills. What is wrong with me?
  • You completed your Masters program before 25. That's impressive!
Yeah... And look at me teaching English or being a professor of World Literature. Can't see it? Exactly.
  • You shouldn't worry about your career as you are still way too young.
I've been working 'big girl' jobs since I was 18. OF COURSE I AM FREAKING OUT. Nothing is good enough for me and I don't know what I wanna be when I grow up.
  • 'I am sorry ma'am, you can't rent this car.'
But I will be able to in a few days! #Goals

There are things in the US I am actually not old enough to do and there are things in Ukraine I am waaaay too old to do (like go to the nightclub. brrr). And here I am living the life of a split personality. I do think that Ukraine nurtures its kids for too long but then at the same time asks so much of them (like having kids at 19). And America is quick to release its children into the 'adult life' yet places barriers on their way. And then there are expats, who basically are the badass rebels enjoying the best of both worlds (cue Hannah Montana). And are oh so humble.


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