1. Emoticons are typed differently in Ukraine. Instead of a smiley face like so: :), you will see them like this: ))). The bigger the smile, the more of those: ))))))))))))))))))))). And of course the same goes for the opposite sad face ((((((((((((((((((.
2. Ukrainians and Russians have their own version of Facebook called Vkontkte. It means Contact. People can have all kinds of music and movies uploaded on their accounts.
3. It’s a lot easier and a lot more regular for people to take things illegally on the internet including music, movies, books, software, etc.
1. Tattoos are not near as commonplace in Ukraine. Usually if you have a tattoo it means you were in prison. Each tattoo means something, prison tats that is.
2. Body piercings are much less frequently seen here as well.
1. The public buses do not have an electric strip or a cord to pull to chime a bell. You must walk to the front of the bus and tell the driver where you would like to stop. Or, if the bus is packed full of people you must pass your fair up through the crowd. People are extremely cooperative with this in Odessa.
2. To make the bus stop you must hold out your hand. They won’t just stop because it’s a bus stop.
3. Sometimes there’s no bus stop, or at least a sign that there’s one. Ukrainians often know the route and seem to instincively know where to catch the buses.
4. Buses in Ukraine are much smaller than the ones in the States. They can get pretty crowded at times.
5. The bus drivers are pretty crazy. One guy I know calls it surfing. Often all the seats are taken and you will have to stand, hold on, and keep your balance. Watch out for screaking sudden stops.
6. Previously the Odessa airport had no arrival or departure signs. Well, a new update — they just had em put in!
7. Trains have departments where people can all sleep in open rooms with other people. It gets quite hot and uncomfortable and there is little privacy.
8. The trains are all pretty old. I think they have ridden them until the wheels fell off and then just put on some new wheels.
9. A few weeks ago our friend Mark had the front of his van hit buy four policemen out of uniform at 50 MPH, racing four policemen in uniform.
10. Odessa has lots of narrow streets and no freeways. It is a city of over 1 million people and it hugs the curve of the sea, so if you want to go to the other side of town it takes forever!
11. They cannot build a desperately needed underground subway in Odessa because of the endless paths of catacombs.
12. Instead of a fire extinguisher on the trams you will find boxes full of sand for putting out fires.
13. On the airplanes they give you a white papercloth for your head. Why didn’t we think of that?
1. You will not find paper toilet seat covers in the public restrooms. I had grown so accustomed to this. Guess us Americans are spoiled.
2. Like many places in Europe you will sometimes have seperate small rooms for the sink and the toilet.
3. Sometimes public restrooms will not even have a seat. I’ve even heard stories of people carrying them with them on trips.
1. Often when people are having children they have to travel to their hometown where they have their names registered at the hospital. It is quite a time consuming ordeal.
2. Due to the low birth rate in Ukraine, when people have a baby they are paid a good amount of money. I am not sure of the exact amount, but after a month after birth you will be given 1 or 2,000 dollars. I believe for each child this number increases a bit.
3. The birth rate in Ukraine do to poverty. The poulation in Ukraine and Russia is actually decreasing every year.
1. Rental agreements can be very unreliable. We recently almost had to move out of our flat again because the owner was thinking to sell. We prayed and he changed his mind. :), excuse me, ))))). You’d be as well off spitting in your hand and shaking on it then signing any forms.
2. All the flat buildings, even the new ones being built are the old Soviet style concrete buildings. I do not know why they continue to build these types of buildings, it does not seem very time effcient.
3. These buildings do not have fire escapes.
4. All these buildings are heated by radiators.
5. When looking to rent a place, you will not have much luck using a classified. Maybe use the internet if you want to get ripped off. People usually hire someone to find a place for them. Once the place is found and an agreement is signed this person will collect their share.
6. The perceived value of the flats is way too high for what you get. A nice one bedroom flat would go for 100,000 to 200,000 dollars.
7. When they count rooms in a flat they count every room. A two bedroom house in the States would be considered a three bedroom house in Ukraine.
8. Many people extend their building size by building bigger balconies.
9. One good thing is there haven’t been any earthquakes or tsunami’s here, so that is good. Just an occasioanl flood. Odessa was flooded this year because the drains are clogged with too much litter.
10. Some people have a second vacation home not far outside of the city by the beach. They call these dachas.
1. It is considered rude to point at people in Ukraine.
2. Sometimes saying thank you to them sounds insulting. Don’t be offended if you give someone something and they don’t say thank you.
3. Don’t spit on the street, although it is said to be very common for Ukrainians.
4. Don’t where hats inside buildings. No biggy there right?
Interesting cultural things
1. The number of roses you give someone usually has some kind of significance. It is not good to give a woman an even number of roses, make sure it is an odd number.
1. The handicapped are called invalids and usually really looked down upon. Many of them are stuck in their homes to be ignored by society, if they have a home.
2. It is not very common to find delegated parking for the handicapped anywhere.
1. People in Ukraine say thank you after the meal, not before.
2. They like to eat Carp in Ukraine. Of course they eat it in China and other places as well. Only in the States is it considered garbage fish.
3. McDonald’s is usually crazy busy. I have never seen McDonald’s so crazy busy in the States, except maybe New York, as it is in Odessa almost every time I go there. Sometimes you can’t even find a place to sit.
4. Ukrainians have very good manners and are very picky about washing their hands. Often people will want to wash their hands just from coming in from outdoors.
5. Ukrainians in some ways are healthier than Americans as they are satisfied with much smaller portions of food.
6. They eat a lot less meat in Ukraine at far less frequent meals.
7. It is common to see people come back to Ukraine from the States a few pounds heavier than when they left.
8. My wife is a great cook!
At the beach
2. People in Ukraine tend to be pretty unashamed of their bodies and don’t have many inhibitions about themselves on the beach either. In one way I suppose that’s a good thing.
3. The beach along Odessa is great although it gets very crowded sometimes.
4. The water is a little polluted but everyone swims anyway.
5. Many people seem to live on the beach in the summer and look like they go there every day.
1. In Ukraine they call their cats differently than Americans do. In the States we say, “here kitty, kitty, kitty…” In Ukraine cats understand, “ksss, ksss…”
2. There are lots of stray dogs in Ukraine. Because of the poverty I suppose and not being able to have adequate places to house the strays. There are quite a lot in our neighborhood.
3. Many people own dogs in Odessa. It is very common, which I don’t understand because most people live in flats. They are good sized dogs too.
4. Often people, including ourselves, bring their leftovers or old bones outside for all the stray cats and dogs.
5. It is not good to bring strays into your home as they often carry sicknesses.
1. No definite and indefinite articles. Russians do not use the words, “the” or “a”. It is in the syntax.
2. Russians tend to stress every word differently than I naturally do as an American. It is just one of several things which make learning the language a challenge.
3. Pronunciation is very important. Unlike English where you can pronounce words different ways, in Russian this can sometimes mean very embarassing things. Be careful with your pronunciation.
4. Russians know it is hard to learn their language and respect anyone who’s willing to give it an honest try.
5. In Russian people are usually allowed to mix around the sentences more. This is helpful in translating, at least from English to Russian anyway.
1. I have seen some ads of girls on buildings that definitley wouldn’t legally fly in the States.
2. Girls in Ukraine definitley like glamour and showing their femininity. A friend who was recently visiting commented that they all look like they are on a runway.
3. High heels and boots are everywhere.
1. Often on kids toys at restaurants or public places you will see safety hazards. In the States these would definitley be some kind of insurance liability.
1. In the movie theatres they use the same 3D glasses over and over. If you don’t return them they will charge you $50, even though they are sometimes old and scratched up.
2. The public movie theaters show movies in Russian although most the populace speaks Russian. I have a friend from Russian who can’t even understand them.
3. At the movie theaters in Ukraine, when you buy your tickets you have assigned seating. You don’t just buy a ticket and then go in and find your seats.
4. Many people do not go to the movies or buy DVDs but rather download their moves for free on torrent sites. It’s the way people do it in Ukraine, movies or digital products are usually pirated as a normal part of life.
1. Cigarettes in Ukrain are dirt cheap. People can buy a pack of Marlboros for about $1.20, and cheaper cigarettes for half that.
2. Smoking is extremely common in Ukraine. I think they have the second highest smoking rate in all the world.
1. Payscale is crazy. Once we had a poster of the payscales for the employees in our flat building. The cleaning lady was the highest paid. It is not uncommon to see a claening lady making more than a doctor or a teacher.
2. $500/ month is considered excellent pay and is well above the average earnings in most cities.
3. Most jobs are paid under the table as people wouldn’t survive very well if they paid their required taxes. Most of the economy is in the shadows.
4. In February 2013 a new law will be inacted where people exchanging dollars will have to pay a 15% tax. This is because people will hoard dollars, wait for the value to go up, and then exchange them and this hurts the economy. However, if your check is coming from the States this rule doen’t apply to you.
1. In public buildings people don’t usually actually stand in lines. If there is a line for some public service people randomly sit around the room. So, what you do when you enter the room is ask who is last in line and you know you are after them.
1. Garbage cans are often made of heavy thick concrete. The people who clean them out have to actually reach down inside and take out all the trash. What a time consuming way to so it.
1. The bottoms of the tress are painted white in Odessa. I have been told that people do this to keep bugs off the trees. It made sense to me then until I saw they painted the bottoms of the concrete poles too to match. I guess they like the way it looks!
2. In the summer Odessa is beautiful with full green trees everywhere. As well the white flowers come out for a couple weeks on the cherry trees.
1. Go off randomly. Sometimes through out the year somebody will start lighten off fireworks in your neighborhood. What would be illegal in the States, here is a birthday celebration! You can walk into most grocery stores anytime and find them for sale.
1. When someone is playing music on the street to make money, instaed of putting a cup on the ground there will usually be another person holding a hat and walking up to people. Guess they have to split the tips between the two of em.
2. It is common to see people faking a handicap or being mute to try and ask people for money. You can usually tell.
3. Sometimes beggars can be agressive and even get mad at you if you don’t give them anything.
4. If you get on a bus in the city center sometimes you will have someone get on and give their speech to the entire bus asking for money. They usually seem to get a couple bucks out of the deal.
1. When posing around a monument, a statue or some kind of interesting thing people, especially girls like to hug it.
2. People smile less often for pictures.
1. At the grocery stores you do not weigh your produce in the check out aisle. Their will be an employee or two in the produce section to weigh everybodies fruits and vegies for them.
2. Bread is often bought without packaging and I wonder how many people’s hands have been on my bread.
3. Ukraine has amazing chocolate, cookies, sweets, vegetables, and dairy products.
4. There is still no peanut butter here yet.
5. The aisles are usually a much tighter squeeze in the grocery stores in the States.
1. It isn’t much of a surprise if people get a little edgy or hot tempered with each other and then go about their business as if nothing happened.
2. Many people are extremely polite and it is common to find etiquette and manners that often seems to be forgotten in the States.
1. I had some pretty good chiropractor appointments for under $20 when I was having back problems. That’s pretty good!
2. There are places here where you can have good sushi for two people for $15! That’s a pretty good deal!
1. Books are quite a bit cheaper. Usually about half what they would cost in the States.
2. Bibles are usually hardbound instead of leather bound, at least most of the time. There is one modern translation from last year, but they have far fewer translations to choose from than English speakers do.
1. The selection of good Christian hymns to sing is much fewer and far between although there are some around. In time we plan to help these numbers some.
Have you been to Ukraine? What kind of interesting things did you observe?