In my green, sequined tracksuit, I sit at a café with friends, gossiping and catching up about the day before. We’re done our food and drinks, but the server hasn’t brought us our cheque, since we haven’t asked, and servers often only come when you call them.
Maybe we’re discussing our latest wild market finds, or maybe we’re talking about last night at the bar, staying until it closed then taking it to the streets with new friends, watching the sunrise with a drink in hand.
In between stories, we interrupt each other with random phrases we see on people’s t-shirts, the less sense they make the better. “Fashion ghr the in lovely”, “U can get this hardsoda quality only”, and so on. We also take note of everyone’s fashion – fur on sandals, patterned everything, and varying styles of men’s and women’s jean shorts. It’s little moments like this, taking in the Ukrainian lifestyle, that I’m going to miss most.
I’ve been living in Ukraine for 10 months, studying Ukrainian dance, culture, and language. I leave for Canada on 29 June, and I’m already thinking of ways I can come back as quickly as possible.
I’ve been to Ukraine once before, so I knew a bit of what to expect: I knew the entire Ukrainian population doesn’t walk around in traditional costume every day and that groceries and medication are easy enough to come by. But I didn’t know how much Ukrainian cities vary – big and bright Kyiv; touristy and beautiful Lviv; quaint and walkable Chernivtsi; quirky and modern Lutsk; and Poltava, a city so different from the rest that I can’t put into words why.
I also didn’t know what it’s like to live as a local and not a tourist. The Russian language is much more widespread than I thought. It was hard to get used to at first, and the popularity of Russian turned me off certain cities, but by the end, though I still think people should speak the official language – Ukrainian, I am more understanding of why people speak Russian. It’s not necessarily because people aren’t being patriotic to their country, it’s just how they were raised, especially if they or their parents were brought up during Soviet times.
The life I lived in Ukraine isn’t that of a true local. Though I did see how people live in both villages and cities I was here to study and explore. I didn’t have to work multiple jobs to support myself. I had plenty of free time and some spending money to enjoy on days and nights out with friends. But I never took my lifestyle for granted.
I wish for a Ukraine where everyone is as happy and comfortable as I was during my time here. To Ukrainians who question why I want to live in their country, I hope you too can take in and appreciate your culture, spend time with loved ones to make lasting memories, and enjoy the beauty, spirit, and soul of this intriguing country.
Defined, minimum wage is the “lowest remuneration that employers can legally pay their workers”. Here in Ukraine that idea is enforced literally, as one man sets out to see if he can live on bread – or in this case salary, alone. His name is Klim Bratkovskiy – a blogger and lawyer who has since […]
Imago Mundi is a collection of artwork by more than 25 000 artists from around the world, featured in Trieste, Italy, this year from 29 May to 2 September. It’s been assembled by Luciano Benetton with an aim to globalise contemporary art and promote the spread of cultural heritage to future generations in the hopes […]
Spacecraft components replace candleholders. Spacesuits serve as vestments. Space-related books are contemporary holy scripture. Astronauts’ portraits substitute for icons. It is not a figment of my imagination – I have discovered the extraordinary Space Exploration Museum set in an old Ukrainian church not far from Kyiv. Even more striking, this venue is part of the […]
Mark Allison is a British guy running around the world. Literally. He wasn’t going for a world record, but by the time he gets finished he’ll have set a couple. In Kyiv this month on a rest stop, we catch him on the road in Romania before he catches his breathe in Kyiv. The mammoth […]