Best to Learn Cultural Attitudes Before Travelling
So, you have plotted your travel map, booked your flight, and researched the sights you want to see on your trip to Ukraine. Your bag may be packed, but a crash course in Ukrainian customs and attitudes is essential. Being culturally astute and prepared will ensure a joyful trip.
First and foremost, Ukrainians are very hospitable. Guests are lauded and treated like royalty. Conversation is as essential as borsch at the dinner table. If you want to make a good impression, bring a gift to the family. A bottle of wine, a box of candy or a bouquet of flowers is a genuine sign of appreciation. If you bring flowers, make sure the number is odd. An even number of flowers denotes death. Take off your shoes when entering your guest’s residence. Most Ukrainians keep slippers on hand for guests.
Ukrainians never drink without a reason, and most of the time your host will find a rationale to raise a glass. Ukrainians are an emotional people. Eating and drinking together lowers barriers and encourages people to talk about themselves and share stories. If you are a non-drinker, make this known to your hosts in advance to avoid awkward misunderstandings. If vodka is on the menu for toasts, remember: this clear, potent spirit can catch up with you.
Body language rather than the spoken word speaks volumes. Ukrainians personal space is smaller than people raised in western cultures. Physical touch during conversation, greetings with a kiss on the cheek and animate expressions define the Ukrainian method of communication. However, simple and common gestures like putting your thumb between your first two fingers will be taken as a rude remark. Gender roles in Ukraine tend to be more traditional. Men open doors for women, pour their drinks and light their cigarettes, as well as help them put on and take off their coats. Don’t be offended by these gestures. Welcome these acts of kindness.
Cultural conversation goes far beyond language and sight-seeing. Brush up on customs Ukrainians value before you leave and your trip will be the richer because of your savvy preparation. Enjoy your trip. Ukrainians are waiting to welcome you with open arms.