Routine Schmoutine – Pitfalls of the New Expat

This has always bugged me about myself. It takes me forever to find efficiencies in a new routine. When my schedule changed at work, it took me months to fall into a good personal routine. I’m talking about big changes like from day shift to afternoon shift. Or to a new reporting location. Stuff like that.

Of course some things just happen naturally – like morning coffee. I’m not sure when that started. But long long ago, Rob brought me a coffee in bed and I’ve never looked back. Neither has Rob since it gets him a lot points.

I would love to report that I have more of a routine then coffee in bed. Oh, and I see everyone off for the day. But I’d love to have more of a routine. I’ve imagined what it will be like when I finally fit everything in.

Why Do I Even Need a Routine?

I don’t know. It seems like a good idea. I like efficiency. I’m even quite efficient.

Gah! Somehow it takes me months to make an ideal schedule. I know there’s an easy solution to it. I just need to forget the routine. But…

Okay, so I’m about to make my excuses about why I haven’t taken up running in the morning. Or haven’t done yoga in the afternoon. Or even found a gym here in Kyiv yet. It’s part of my ideal retired lifestyle you know.

In addition to my apparent procrastination (and laziness), there are simply too many things that wreck my plans. Here in Kyiv especially.

Lunch, Brunch or Breakfast

Take lunch out with new friends for instance. A lunch date is quite time consuming. Since we’re all spread about, lunch often requires a 20 minute brisk walk to get to. While I’m quite fond of the three cheek kiss here in eastern Europe, it does take some time, especially shared amongst four or five of us. Then there is chit chat. There always seems to be one more piece of valuable intel to share. Reading the menu takes a ton of time in between conversation. It takes me quite a bit longer when the menu is Ukrainian. Forget it if it’s cursive Cyrillic – I have to ask for an English menu then. Eating generally doesn’t take too much time but goodbyes take forever. Really, its lovely to have so much fun chatting and laughing and I’m not complaining at all. Inevitably, the goodbye three cheek kisses always lead to more talking.

It doesnt’ help that Kyiv has an amazing restaurant lineup. Or that lunch out at a pretty hip place doesn’t often come in over ten bucks. Canadian!

Wonderful Expat Community

I’ve only met a few locals with whom I can speak with enough to have any type of relationship. And of course it’s because they’re proficient in English. I’m working on it though.

I’ve got a circle of new friends through Rob’s job. And of course, you can guess they’re a ton of fun. They’re mostly women and overwhelmingly from eastern Europe.

I joined a local bookclub and we’re meeting next week to discuss our first book. Dinner out of course.

And I think most new expats do this at least their first year in Kyiv – I joined the International Women’s Club of Kyiv. They meet often and have an extensive event list. There’s way too much to do there.

The Grocery Store is an Event on its Own

Simple logistics take me way longer here in Kyiv. And grocery shopping is a post on its own.

Sure, they have large chain grocery stores with aisles of produce and bunkers of meat. You’ll have to trust me on this one. I’ve tried several different ways of making the task of feeding us from the grocery store an easy thing. It’s just not. Kyiv has online grocery shopping and even that takes a good hour. And there’s still the problem of picking out the fresh meat.

And there is no one stop shop here. Well, there (kind of) is but it’s far from our downtown apartment.

I go to the a grocery store every day. There are lots of little convenience stores nearby. I can only shop at the nearest big grocer if I don’t need any meat. Some days there is an outdoor market open and I buy beautiful salad greens and vegetables. I take a pass on the meat there as well though because of the flies. Well, and its not refrigerated. I recently added in a stop at the Carnivornia that I found. It’s the nicest looking meat I’ve seen here. And the store smells good.

If I need something ‘special’, then I may need to visit a few stores. Or save it for an online shop. Or just forget about it since it’s often a crazy price.

I can’t stock the fridge with a weeks worth of fruits and vegetables because they simply won’t keep. And the baked breads here are so yummy that I couldn’t possibly substitute a bagged loaf. So, you see how it is. Time consuming.

I’m Loving My Expat Life in Kyiv

Kyiv is my first expat experience. Life here is mostly easy – in a challenging kind of way.

It’s a ton of fun. And I can see the appeal of being a long term expat. My highschool bestie moved to Hong Kong for a job decades ago. She goes back to Canada pretty much every summer but the lifestyle keeps her in Hong Kong.

So, back to my time management – I’m not getting any better at it.

I mentally scheduled two hours for my most recent 10 a.m. brunch. I was finally headed to the grocery well after two. I barely made it home to unlock the door for Ben. That was six and half hours of my day.

I’m not complaining.

The header image is a picture snapped from our apartment window. It’s one of the sections of the Dnieper River that we can see from our living room.

Thanks for reading!
Colleen

2 Replies to “Routine Schmoutine – Pitfalls of the New Expat”

  1. See, this is the kind of blogging I like.

    Have you tried Good Wine Colleen? I generally hate shopping but they have nice stuff and great wine. I never thought I’d come to Ukraine and find wine from all over the world. We’ve been all over Eastern Europe and the Balkans and we were impressed…And although maybe a bit pricey by Ukrainian standards (see the BMWs and Audis parked outside and the fake lips inside) a lot cheaper than anything in Canada. I would come here for our “specialty” stuff in Kyiv. Everything else I would buy at the Silpo at that shopping center not far away. Didn’t like the Silpo so much.

    By the way, our apartment up the hill from there. Look up “La Veranda”restaurant. We were right there. Good restaurant but not cheap. Hated going up that hill with groceries. Our gym was BodyArt fitness which was ok but too fancy for our linking.

    But for those who think Ukraine is some 3rd World Shithole they’d be in for a surprise, right?

    Great that you love the life in Kyiv 🙂

    1. Good morning!

      I haven’t been to Good Wine yet. I only recently learned that they have more than wine.

      I did go to that Le Silpo in Arena City. It had a huge amount of specialty products. And the Silpo in Gullivers Mall I think is what you’re talking about. The food court area looked amazing – we were there during lunch rush time and it was packed. We were on the hunt for fish sauce (teen was making dinner) that day. No success.

      Your apartment was quite a bit closer to those stores than mine is. Opposite direction too. I do regularly shop at the regular Silpo closest to us. Certainly it has everything we need to survive.

      LOL, the hills are awesome here! Though not so much laden with groceries. Every day!

      Kyiv is a seriously under rated city. I’m looking forward to seeing Lviv soon. Though I didn’t realize some people think the country is third world. Or a shithole. Certainly they’ve never been out of their armchair then. Interesting. I’ve seen impressions of the entire country being war torn or even a war zone. Dangerous. Those kind of blanket impressions.

      Thanks for the shopping tips. And that gym one too. I’ll check it out but I’m not fancy either.

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