When I moved from Canada to Ukraine, I experienced many differences. These differences did not deter but rather encouraged me to look for little bits of home in this unusual land. After nine months of living in Kyiv, these few places remind me that home is not so far away.
Oddly enough, I find that shopping centres make great places to relax. They’re air conditioned, clean, and food and entertainment are ready for your indulgence. I can easily spend a day at Lavina Mall and forget which country I’m living in. A ride on the Swinging Pirate Ship in the amusement park is all that’s needed to stimulate laughter, adrenaline, and make me forget about whatever was on my mind beforehand. Between the indoor amusement park, modern food court, classy cinema, and time spent getting lost, there is much fun to be had. Growing up on the prairies, one of my favourite places to visit was West Edmonton Mall. Lavina doesn’t quite live up to it, but it’s enough to satisfy the craving.
Solo, or So Low
When I’m feeling overwhelmed and need to be comforted by some of my favourite food, my body goes into autopilot and takes me to Druzi Café. It makes for a comfortable and easy solo dining experience: the food is great and the staff are always friendly. I never feel bad about my level of Ukrainian either. With the number of foreigners that circulate through, I know I can be saved by English if things go south. A meal at Druzi can turn any gloomy day around. For example, I had the pleasure of receiving the true “Kyiv experience” not long ago. The fun one – the one where your phone and identity get stolen. I meditated on the thought of eating gluten-free deruny from Druzi and was able to stay strong enough through the following days of living unplugged.
The Best Time is Wine Time
Wine Time: the place where your wildest fantasies can come true. Yes, wines from around the world can be purchased, but so much beyond that as well. I often fantasise about buying the purest Canadian maple syrup and drinking it straight from the maple leaf-shaped bottle. I haven’t yet realised this fantasy, but I’m comforted by the fact that it’s a possibility. This is also the one place in all of Kyiv that I have located kombucha in glass bottles (because plastic just won’t do). Even in Ukraine, some of my favourite products are at my fingertips.
Kyiv is a city I am drawn to for a number of reasons including culture, history, and simply the way of life. Staying grounded in a place so foreign can seem impossible, well, until you make it possible. When you find things that comfort you and bring familiarity, it gets easier to adapt, to reset, and build confidence. The trick to it all is that to get comfortable, you first have to get uncomfortable.