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Being a Ukrainian – how is it?

visiting  Ukraine

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Отзывы иностранных туристов об Украине

Recently American author Alice Andrew Evans has published the third edition of the guidebook over the Ukraine in the U.S. The author has lived in the Ukraine for several years and visited most parts of the country. The books gives very interesting opinions about this country and its residents. We are pleased to quote the passages.

Survival for the Ukrainians is a customary thing. They have survived through many troubles known to mankind, but managed to get through. The global financial crisis confirms this. The confidence is rooted in the understanding of one simple truth: if something happens, the Ukrainians will take shovels, hoes and rakes to grow potatoes on their dacha (summer house) and survive into the hungry winter.

The Ukrainian society has a lot of elderly women. It seems that they are everywhere and always busy with something: sweep the street, bring excessively large sacks, sell something. Why are there so many babusheks (name for a grandmom or even stranger elderly women) in the Ukraine? During the Second World War, the Soviet Union lost 20 million people, mostly young men. Their wives, sisters and mother survived, and now make up a large proportion of the population. They are old, but sinewy, as have retired at the time of Independence and had a hell of a time.

All elderly women are treated with respect – Ukrainians call them babushka, babulya or babusya. The majority of Ukrainian children are brought up by them. They are living witnesses of historical events for foreign tourists. Buying flowers or seeds from them on the street means that you support them financially and help.
It is fair to say that now Ukrainians are living better than ever in its history. Troubled past and uncertain future nurtured their super strong tolerance. Their solutions always depend on the truly important things – the change of seasons, family and abilities to survive. Today they know about their role in history and with great pride look back for a very difficult past. For the first time Ukrainians have known historical truth.

  In the Ukraine, one is judged by the clothes. Going out, the Ukrainians put on all the best – no matter how poor they are. If you arrive in winter you can see women in high heels who manage not to fall on the ice, and men going in clean pants all day, despite the slush.

The Ukrainians love feasts – drinking, eating, singing, telling stories and jokes. They are very good philosophers. They are welcoming and happy to open the door to a complete stranger. Guests will be offered tea and probably well-fed.

The cause of all ills for the Ukrainians is a devil. The most powerful version is the evil eye. It can cause a self-fulfilling fatigue, depression, toothache, quarrels in the family, problems at work, loose stools.

The Ukrainians love to read. Books are an indicator of status. Therefore, even in the most remote place you will find a large library of Ukrainian and Russian literature. The Soviet government permitted some foreign authors. Here people know about Hemingway, Jack London, John Steinbeck and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Ukrainian folk songs are usually about love, vodka or the love to vodka, sometimes, even to bacon. Some are humorous, but most are filled with sorrow. The traditional instrument to accompany is a stringed bandura in the form of a tear. But now majority are singing under a guitar.

Foreigners are often shocked by the conviction of the Ukrainians that a victim is to blame for a crime. They never open the door without asking «Who is there?» or looking through the peephole.

Ukrainians know how to queue. However, they do not respect other people in it. It can get so that you will stand there for 20 minutes, and even more, until somebody bold gets before you without any apology. It is better not mess with these people. If in front of the ticket office you’re raking around for money or tickets, Ukrainians believe that this gives them the right to take your place. Beware! You can get to the very end of the queue …
When the tram, bus or subway trains comes, everybody forgets about the queue. Everybody is trying to get into the transport pushing all other people as quickly as possible. If you’re slow, you risk of not getting inside.

In winter it is very cold in buses and minibuses, and you pray for a big babushka to come and sit near you.

Trains are the best way to travel around the country, as the tickets are very cheap and there you will see the real Ukraine.

Ukrainians love snapshots. Each family has photo albums hid somewhere in the house. Strangers on the street do not mind if they are shot. If an adult sees that it is being shot, it ceases to smile and makes a serious face, as for a passport. If you ask one to smile, he or she will most likely answer – «that’s all» and leave.
Wheelchair users are only found near the church, where they ask for alms. In the Ukraine, there is no infrastructure for such people.

If you want to come back alive from the Ukraine – do not drink tap water. It tastes awful and causes terrible diarrhea. Drink only bottled or boiled water. Teas and drinks at restaurants are safe.
If you want real Ukrainian food – do everything possible to get to the family dinner. No restaurant would be able to reach such culinary skills as a Ukrainian babyshka.

Travelling in the Ukraine without food is considered a sin. People go with a huge basket of products «for the road» even if it’s only a two hour bus transfer.

Ukrainians love to eat ice cream all year round. It is sold and eaten on the streets, even on the coldest days of January. If ice cream does not melt in mouth, they chew it.

If you are traveling with children, it’s a good idea to buy a child seat for the toilet and carry it with you. This may facilitate a visit to the terrible toilets of «hole in the ground» type or toilets in trains. Baby diapers can be purchased at any big store. Just say «pampers» with a Russian accent.

Packing things to the Ukraine, take a sewing kit and a decent supply of buttons, because they are often torn. Depending on what part of the country you are traveling, bring Ukrainian or Russian pocket dictionary, but better – both.

Allowing a man to treat you with a drink, and accept the invitation to go to his house is a very bad idea. One can tell to especially insistent that you are a deeply religious woman: «Ya verushaya” and they leave you alone.

Pack your things in a simple muted case, so not to attract too much attention. Do not take «bright» bags – put all the belongings in a plastic bag for purchases. Thieves won’t mind to steal it.

The Ukraine keeps adapting for organized group tourism. If you want to see something specific – it is better to choose this option but you will not know what the real Ukraine is. Incredibly rude woman at the box offices, night trains and picnics will remain outside the tourist bus. Independently you’ll have a wonderful opportunity to talk with locals, which is most valuable and most interesting in the journey to the Ukraine.

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