Living in another country during the holidays is extremely difficult because you always feel like you're meant to be home. Seeing Christmas trees in the stores, ornaments stocked on the shelves, that traditional red and green that follows you everywhere you go -- it just seems so unreal without family. On top of it, there are strange holidays here. We don't celebrate or even know much about Thanksgiving in the Ukraine, and it seems so foreign to me. The turkey, the pilgrims, Halloween costumes...all of it. I've done well so far, but culture shock is formidable foe.

On the brighter side, my brother may be coming to visit. I'm excited, but at the same time, I wish he wouldn't come. It's so terribly expensive to fly to the US from the Ukraine. It's extremely impractical. Now, Adam's never really cared about being practical, but even so, it's a lot for me to ask of him. I just keep seeing all those digits hitting my brother and slipping from his bank account. I don't know how I can't let him do it. I'm happy that he cares so much about me, though.

Adam and I have always been particularly close, more so than I've been with my brothers Alex and Ivan. Being away from him is the hardest during this time. I bought Christmas decorations today, but I'm not sure what to do with my little dorm room, honestly. It used to be that my brothers would hang those amazing roof lights on our house, and they'd look like icicles. We had this big tree in front of our house, some kind of evergreen, and Adam and I would decorate it with all kinds of colors. Then we'd sip hot cocoa and try to save our fingers from frost bite.

Whenever I look back on past Christmases it's as if my chest is emptied out, leaving this void. At times it's overwhelming and makes studying for my finals nearly impossible, but I came to the US for a reason. Everyone keeps saying I made it this far and can't go back. I know they're right, but now I really wish I could.