5 Things I've Learned About Ukraine

Wow, what a week! Our guest speaker, Sergey Glushko, taught on identity in Christ and led us in several different ministries. We attended Sasha's baptism, visited another orphanage, and ministered with some rehab programs for addicts. It's been quite the emotional, tiring week, but it was amazing.

 Our team at the rehab center on Tuesday after a 4 hour session of prayer and worship.

Our team at the rehab center on Tuesday after a 4 hour session of prayer and worship.

So now time for some fun! Here are five things I’ve learned about Ukraine: 

1. "Gretchka is life"--Josh Anderson.

 Gretchka, pickled cabbage salad, and bread-three staples of Ukrainian food.

Gretchka, pickled cabbage salad, and bread-three staples of Ukrainian food.

The brown stuff on the plate is known in the States as buckwheat, and it's surprisingly delicious. It's served as a base food for a lot of our meals. If Asia serves rice, Ukraine serves gretchka. Also, I hope you like pickled foods because they’re served with every meal. Mainly pickled cabbage, which I don't like nearly as much as I like the gretchka.

2. Time moves slowly.

As we learned in one of our books, Foreign to Familiar, there are warm-cultures and cold cultures. In warm-cultures, time is oriented towards relationships instead of tasks. America is a cold climate, tending to be more efficient. Ukraine is a warm culture (ironically), so it's a lot more laid back. So, if Sasha calls and says she’ll be home in an hour, expect her back in 2-3.

3. Public Transportation.

 The yellow and white marshrtuchkas are faster than the trams but I've only ridden them once.

The yellow and white marshrtuchkas are faster than the trams but I've only ridden them once.

In Ukrainian, you have the trambai, trolleybus, and marshrutchka to connect the city. Not many people can afford cars or gas, so they use these to get around. I use the trambais mostly since they're cheap, fast, and simple to use. Rush hour is a nightmare, though, as we're all packed into those cars like sardines in a can. Luckily, everything is pretty close together, so if it's a nice day you can just walk. 

4. сквозняк (skvoznayk).

 I think it was Thursday when the sun finally showed up after weeks of hiding from me. I discovered the window sill is a lovely place to recharge and soak up the rays.

I think it was Thursday when the sun finally showed up after weeks of hiding from me. I discovered the window sill is a lovely place to recharge and soak up the rays.

In English, it's translated as The Draft, and it exists. We learned during our worldview week that reality is actually subjective. In Ukraine, because of the climate, it is dangerous to open two windows. One window is completely fine and normal, even if it's snowing, but if you have more than one opening in the house, NIET!! And may the Lord be with the poor soul who tries to open two windows on the marshrutchka with a babooshka on board. Apparently, you've just endangered everyone on board of getting deathly ill.

5. Tapechki are a necessity. 

Surprisingly, this is not because of the cold, like I originally thought. Ukrainians like things clean, so it's just common sense to wear socks or slippers around the house, especially if you have company over. Because I live, eat, and have class in the same building, I normally just wear socks (although I am guilty of going barefoot occasionally). Some of the staff leave an extra pair of slippers here so they don't have to bring them back and forth.

So there you have it. Five crucial things I've learned about Ukrainian culture. Hopefully, this lets you get a little glimpse into my world. At this point, it's just normal for me. So what would you like to know about Ukrainian culture or my new life?