I got an email from someone stateside who wanted me to write a blog post on what Ukraine is like. From his questions, I could tell he had the standard, post soviet ideas running through his head. Dark, orthodox church bells, heavy food, oppressed people, women running around with just black purses on their arms…..standard enough thinking for someone who hasn’t been here.
Last night a friend took a look at a photo of me sitting in a cafe next to the river and couldn’t believe it was Ukraine. “That doesn’t look the way I thought it looks.” The brand new river front area in Kyiv, looks like nothing from the soviet era.
The thing about Ukraine that most people don’t recognize or understand is the country has been through TWO revolutions in the past twelve years. That’s not one, but TWO revolutions since it became an independent country severing it’s ties from the Soviet Union in 1991. Because politics are pretty complicated in this part of the world, it took a long time for the reality of separating from the Soviet Union, now Russia to happen. It’s still happening. Heck, Russia, annexed Ukraine’s Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine, they were so upset with the separation.
Another friend commented this week how much Ukraine has changed in just the last two years. That it was more….she hesitated to explain…….European now. Listening to a popular singer here who regularly plays a circuit of concerts in the former soviet union and Russia, I noticed that her act seemed so….so…..retro Ukrainian soviet. Pre Maidan music culture. And suddenly, I started to process how much Ukraine and the culture has changed in two years and how it continues to change at lightening speed. Kiev is Kyiv, and the Ukrainian language is heard everywhere in Kyiv.
So, I’m not going to try and explain what it’s like here because trying to explain it is too complicated. All I’ll say is that if you haven’t been here in a while or haven’t been here at all, all I can say is it has changed. Just forget about state bread houses and the standard white “baton” bread loaf….now your bread is baked fresh in a restaurant or market and there are many different kinds and styles. I’m in the middle of the change, so I’m just trying to hang on and process with the rest.
All I know is that young people are smart, sophisticated, and interesting…..I am so excited and blessed to be here at this point in Ukraine’s history.
(I had 19 people from Sweden check out my blog this month! Welcome to my blog! My great grandfather immigrated to America from Sweden!)