I spent 12 months living in Ukraine in a beautiful city called L’viv during EVS. Everybody in my surrounding was surprised I choose Ukraine to live in for one year.
When you say something about Ukraine in the Czech Republic, most people know somebody from Ukraine who moved to Czech because of work. They imagine construction workers and cleaning women. They imagine that people drink alcohol often and leave their families to work abroad. I was pretty sure I do not have any prejudices.
I spent a year working with youngsters from L’viv and Rivne. Maybe it sounds weird but honestly, I was surprised that they are the same as young people in Czech, they face the same problems and same choices. Even I had prejudices which I wasn’t admitting.
Ukrainian culture is beautiful as same as Ukrainians. They are a really warm nation, they love guests and when you are guest they serve you any way they can. I think they can enjoy more life. I feel that in the Czech Republic we hurry up somewhere all the time. In Ukraine, everything has its timing. Ukrainians love to spend time with their family and friends. I loved when we sat with a cup of tea and were just talking. During warm evenings streets were full of life. People hang out together. This is the way how I describe Ukraine.
During my EVS we hosted many short-term volunteers from Europe and the USA. When we did training for them, we always repeated that things which are not usual to them are not weird, they are just different. And this is true. In different cultures, you handle different situations differently. We should take this as an advantage and take what we like and place it in our “family culture”. For example, for me, it is the purposeful time spent with family over a mug of tea. And this is the beauty of different cultures.
Ukraine is a broken country with many political, economic and social issues. But it has a beautiful landscape, rich history, and hospitable people. It is absolutely worthy to take time and explore this country and its culture. EVS was a time when I did it not just as a tourist but like an insider. I am glad I got this chance to overcome my hidden prejudices and I can be more aware of them.