Sunday, September 16, 2012

Land on the Edge: First thoughts of Ukraine

Ukraine or Ukrayina, literally means land on the edge but it doesn't really seem to be n the edge of anything and is much more European and Western than I anticipated. We have been in Kharkiv for a couple of days now and I am really enjoying the city. We are staying in the city center which it turns out is a lot bigger than I initially expected. Still, the small two room apartment we are renting is about a 10 minute walk from the university so the location is ideal. Before I came to Kharkiv everyone told me how Soviet the town was but in the center has lots of old buildings with art noveau structures not the Soviet bloc high rises that I was led to believe. We have some small stores on our block and a nice little cafĂ© on the first floor of our building. I have found that Ukrainian is written on more things and places than I anticipated and so I brought a Ukrainian dictionary today to help facilitate my understanding. Despite that I speak Russian to people and so I often think I am back in Russia and make remarks calling people Russian. It bothers me when people do that in Latvia so I need to stop doing that here….even though Ukrainian and Russian are very similar whereas Latvian and Russian are in two different language families. I also still convert the currency into Rubles (the Russian currency) instead of Hryvna (the Ukrainian currency) so I have to get used to the new calculations and start thinking of everything in eights and fours instead of threes.

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