People Tell the Story: Ukraine

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in People Tell the Story, Ukraine | 1 comment

As Oksana references in the interview below, the people of Ukraine will move mountains for you. Language barrier or not, Ukrainians seemed to be gentle, friendly once you get past their stern faces, and extremely loyal and dedicated to their family, friends and fellow countrymen. Unlike other countries where many farmers have migrated to the bigger cities, Ukrainians still value a strong balance of their traditional way of life. It is not part of the Ukrainian culture to smile at or interact with a stranger on the street.  In fact, Kat and I initially had the impression that the people were a bit standoffish. However, after having a few key interactions with locals during our long travel days and after living with a doting family in the countryside, we were able to get past their cold exteriors and realize that Ukrainian people are some of the friendliest we have encountered on this trip. 

Name: Oksana

Age: 29

Occupation: Marketing Manager at Active Ukraine

Hometown: Radekhiv (a small town near Lviv, Western Ukraine)


Although we never actually met, Oksana has become a true Ukrainian friend. Her hospitality and willingness to go out of her way were a huge reason why Kat and I had such a great time on our seamless 12-day itinerary through Ukraine. She exemplifies what we quickly learned of the Ukrainian people – once they feel comfortable around you, they will do anything they can at whatever moment to help. As Marketing Manager at Active Ukraine, Oksana dedicates her time to promoting unique travel throughout Ukraine. She’s passionate about her country and knows all the untapped and secret places that its vast landscape has to offer. . .and how Ukraine’s place on the map will inevitably gain popularity in the near future. Oksana’s interview below was one of our best yet, because we felt like we experienced all of her answers firsthand. She confirmed that we really understood the people of Ukraine.


What three words best describe the people of Ukraine?

  1. Welcoming – though somewhat cautious at the beginning. But once you get to know them a little bit, they will move mountains for you. Especially if you are a foreigner and they want to impress you.
  2. Diverse – you can see big differences in the country from East to West, South to North. It also comes out in people’s behavior. Western Ukrainians are usually more religious, while Eastern Ukrainians are definitely less so.
  3. Celebration – we have probably the biggest amount of days off in the world. But also, our holidays are full of ancient rituals that are still preserved, especially in the Western Ukraine. Christmas in particular is very special and different than the typical Western European one.


What three words best describe Ukraine?

  1. Diverse – again, you can go from being in a very Soviet-like environment to a totally Western European feel within a day.
  2. Vast – Ukraine’s territory is the largest in Europe (aside from Russia). It’s larger than Germany and France, and has so many places to visit and see.
  3. Time-trapped – in certain places in the country you can feel like times haven’t changed. In the East, small towns still have Lenin statues and are full of communism regalia, while in the villages people still ride horse carts, plow their fields and grow their food.


What is the top priority for the people of Ukraine?

Ukraine is definitely a very family-oriented culture, especially in the Western Ukraine. People keep in touch with extended family and spend major celebrations together. Money is the second important issue since Ukraine is not really a rich country.


How do people typically make a living?

Ukraine has some large industries and manufactures many things – from steel pipes to trains and airplanes. IT sector is also booming here and Ukraine is one of the top destinations for IT outsourcing. In small villages people typically farm – everyone has a plot of land and some cattle.


What is your favorite place to visit in Ukraine?

I personally love the Carpathian Mountains, but that’s because I’m really into trekking and adventure. Northern Ukraine is my second favorite. The nature there is an undiscovered gem with vast rivers and lush forests. Very few tourists go there as well so it’s really off the beaten track. Crimea is great for the mountains and sea, but I prefer going there in late September or early May, before the crowds get too big.

One Comment

  1. I would love to know how they celebrate Christmas and what their traditions are! Thanks for the great conversation the other day.

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