1. Ukraine isn’t safe.
There is no denying there is a conflict in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and Russian backed separatists that has led to many deaths as well as the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash. However, it is unfair to categorize Ukraine as either a conflict zone or remotely unsafe.
The fighting is isolated to a small region that was never on top of anyone’s travel agenda. Ukraine is not too dissimilar to what Ireland was like not that long ago — It has a pocket of violence but overall you’re safer than you would be in most major American cities. All major cities in Ukraine are extremely safe, have a high police presence, and are friendly towards foreigners.
If you’re going to get yourself into trouble in this country then you’re going to have to work extremely hard, travel to not a terribly interesting place, and then do a whole bunch of stupid shit you surely don’t want to do. It will be a struggle.
2. This is the country you go to get laid.
It is a bit of a stereotype about how beautiful Ukrainian women are and what amazing submissive wives they are. It is unfair to imply Ukrainian women are any prettier than other women across the world, but there certainly are many beautiful people here. Because of this stereotype and the ongoing recovery from the Soviet occupation, Ukraine has become popular destination for sex tourists from the developed world searching for wives and sex.
This is absolutely grotesque for a number of different reasons. First of all, it is exploitative of Ukraine’s continuing problems with poverty. If you feel the need to travel thousands of kilometers to find your ‘Natasha’ then clearly something is wrong with you. Also, this notion of Ukrainian women being the ideal subservient wife is both crap and offensive. Ukrainian women are like women across the world: unique and deserving of respect.
Come to Ukraine to enjoy the beaches of Odessa, to spend your days sauntering around Lviv, but you can seriously fuck off if you’re coming here to be a creep.
3. All the men are ‘gopniks’.
There is a growing trend on the internet to have a laugh at squatting slavs and their fondness of Adidas tracksuits like what you see in Everything Is Illuminated. Admittedly, this can be hilarious and light hearted for both Ukrainians and westerners. Despite being a bit of a joke, there exists a strong stereotype of Ukrainian men just being boozers that sit around frowning all day outside of massive apartment complexes. This is outright racist.
In Ukraine, you will find men of every different style and character. Merely from my experience and numerous interactions with Ukrainian mates this is an absurd concept. Ukrainian men are overwhelmingly great guys that are hilarious and charming. As much as it is easy to mock both Ukrainian and other Slavic men, it is just factual incorrect to hint they are somehow backwards or alcoholics.
4. Kiev is just another post-Soviet City.
Kiev hasn’t always been famed for being an amazing European destination. It was unimpressive the first time I visited. Since the Euro Maidan revolution in 2013, Kiev has undertaken a dramatic shift towards becoming one of the most exciting cities in Europe.
What is remarkable about Kiev after the revolution is that the young people didn’t just say to themselves that the government was going to change everything. Instead, they understood that only they could change their country. Since then, Kiev has seen flourish exciting underground bars, interesting restaurants, innovative clubs, and a spirit that says young Ukrainians are going to drag this country into a future that is bright and European.
5. Ukrainians are not friendly.
There is an assumption that Ukrainians aren’t that friendly because people look around the street and don’t see a great deal of smiles. It is sort of understandable coming from a Western culture to believe that, but please don’t believe it is because Ukrainians are rude.
Basically, it is culture. The notion of smiling without actually having much of a reason to do so used to be thought as acting like an idiot or being mentally ill in the former Soviet Union. There is an even old Russian proverb that says, “laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity.” Nonetheless, Ukrainians are warm and kind people. The more you get out into the bars, the parks, and get to know them, the more you will fall in love with this country.
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