Learning two languages at once can be challenging

“Hello, how are you?” “My name is Alison.” “What is your name?”

And so starts every language course, just like when I learned the first few words of French at primary school, many years ago.

I am taking an introductory course in Ukrainian, designed for people who already know some…


Not with a bang but with a whisper

Small changes are happening, coming faster now as February rolls by, discernible to those keen of observation and high of impatience. Mud, mists and mucky slush lie at the edges of roads and fields. …


My next steps in learning to speak Russian

I recently returned from three months in Kyiv, Ukraine. I went there to learn Russian (while also working remotely part-time, exploring, and writing). This was immersion learning. …


Return of the digital nomad

I came home. I was away for three months, a digital nomad living, working and learning in Kyiv, Ukraine. I travelled home with some regret, my sojourn necessarily curtailed by visa restrictions. Trepidation was there too, with a fourteen-hour journey through international airports, confined in planes and trains: plenty of…


Connected in place, separated in time

They came from the warm lands of southern Ukraine, where the fertile earth nurtures crops and the summers are long and hot. They came to Leeds, where winters are cold, damp and dark. Factories belched out their vile smoke, into the streets full of noise. They lived in a tiny…


Still deciding what I want to be when I grow up

I never really got the hang of working. I have had various jobs, but never really much of a career. The actual work is not really the problem, but I find all the interactions, negotiations, relationships to be mentally and emotionally draining. Now that I am in my fifties, I…


And straight into Lockdown 3

I had to self-isolate for ten days on returning home to Britain from Ukraine. This is my last day. It has been interesting and not too painful. It will be good to be able to do my own food shopping again — I can’t believe I have missed doing that…


Stories from a digital nomad

In October 2020, I had been socialising online and working remotely for six months, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. I could be anywhere — as long as I was in front of my computer for online Teams work meetings and friends’ Zoom catch ups. I wanted to learn…


Coronavirus quarantine for a digital nomad

I returned to my home in the Yorkshire Dales, UK, after three months away in Kyiv, Ukraine. I am required to self-isolate for ten days, starting from the day after I return. I may not leave my house or garden. I should avoid shops…


Letters from Kyiv: Number Ten

My last week in Kyiv went quickly. A host of goodbyes and final catch-ups, alongside Ukrainian Christmas festivities. There was snow and sleet, shopping for presents to take back, arrangements for my arrival at home — and anxious watching of the latest global developments.

It didn’t help that the week…

Alison Marshall

Writer, traveller, researcher

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