Ukraine. More specifically, Kiev (also spelled Kyiv), is quite a departure from America. The first thing is the Cyrillic alphabet. Yikes! It is like instantly being illiterate, but as an adult with expectations of literacy. You cannot even guess which sounds to make. Then there are the implications of a country that is struggling to carve an identity out of the nightmare that was the Soviet Union.
Americans have a cultural disposition to smile. Ukrainians do not, at least the urban folks. Once you come to understand the historical reasoning, don’t take it personally. To put it lightly, the Soviet Union did not focus on fostering a sense of community. Once you get past the bristle, I feel as if the people I met were some of the kindest around, going to the ends of the earth just to make you comfortable.
Kiev is spread over both sides of the Dnieper River; a city of around 3 million. It’s the largest city in Ukraine, and you can be reminded of that daily when you ride the tube. Another unique form of mass transit in Ukraine are these yellow buses called marschrutka. They are to Ukraine what the double decker bus is to London.
One of the more curious things about Ukraine, is that it seems most restaurants serve sushi regardless of the contents of the remaining menu. Peanut Butter is very difficult to find. And don’t even think about looking for a reliable cupcake! What food would you miss if you were in a country that had very distinct cuisine?
If you are a smoker, you only have a few more months of blissfully smoking indoors. As you read this, you might think “duh, just like New York”; the difference is EVERYBODY smokes here. I can’t imagine how restaurants and bars will change once this legislation takes effect. There are two English language newspapers in Kiev, otherwise English is not something you might expect to hear everyday unless you job demands it. I also learned that if a young person is speaking English, look at their clothing and proceed with caution because they may be an American missionary; this could cause unnecessary grief for those not looking to be saved.
Today is an exciting day because I am going to be making an effort to post twice a week (likely Tuesdays and Fridays), but shorter posts. Stop by earlier in the week to peek at This American Adventuress!