Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ukraine and the US, Part 2

My heart still misses Ukraine and reading things like this... is, well, heart-breaking. Instead, I'll point you in the direction of someone who is doing good things and share a fun little post on the cultural quirks of my favorite countries to start with a "U".

10 Things You're Not Likely to Encounter in the United States:

Followed by a Good-Luck-Spotting-These-Things-in-Ukraine list...

#1. Waiter-made trainer chopsticks in every sushi restaurant, used by about 80% of diners. 
Known informally as Giant Tweezers.

#2. Fast food job applications that require a photo.

#3. Cheap blini.

#4. Free outdoor gyms for anyone to use.
Although hopefully this is changing...
#5. Street book markets.

#6. Sirok. Think cheesecake ice cream + chocolate and try not to get too sad.

#7. Pipe repairs for the entire city every summer that mean up to a month of either no water or water like this.
A mini-repair: "Due to planned cold water pipe repairs, there will be no cold water from 8 AM, June 5th, 2013 to 8 AM, June 6th, 2013."

#8. Cool steampunk underground corridors.
Kharkiv metro

#9. Seriously memorable parties. No one throws a bash as well as a Ukrainian does. We're talking speeches, planned games, photographers, gifts, mountains of food, an actual schedule of events...

#10. Behold the кипятильник, aka immersion heater (had to look this translation up). Commonly used in Ukraine to heat water for tea, below you can see how it also might come in handy on those days when the hot water is off for repairs. D's family actually brought a кипятильник with them when they immigrated to the US. "It's really great", he promises, "because then you can take it with you anywhere you go and have a cup of tea." I guess Americans aren't that crazy about tea when traveling since I've never seen a single one of these devices for sale here ; )
Picture from

7 Things You Probably Won't Run Into in Ukraine:

#1. Free public restrooms/ free public toilet paper = rare. It's every man (or woman) for themselves.

#2. Street samples. To be fair, I did get one free sample in Ukraine. As I walked into an office building on the outskirts of town one day, a girl appeared with mini bottles of conditioner + coupons. When I got upstairs and showed my students, they were shocked: "What? Why would you take it? It's free, that means it's obviously crap!" Meanwhile, our first day in Portland we encountered a Red Bull promotion with free drinks. Still probably crap, but...

#3. A hand signal like this one. If you see a person making this gesture towards you in Ukraine, it means something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Found in an elementary school in Portland, Oregon.

#4, #5, #6, & #7. Still gets me every time.
I understand age-based nutritional needs, but the naming of this cat food makes it seem like I'd better also grab some "age-defying" anti-wrinkle cream for Kит. Oh, and some of that whitening toothpaste from the picture above. Maybe he'll be able to knock a few months off his appearance.

That's my light-hearted list; now what's yours?

Want more comparison posts like this one?

11 things I'm still getting used to in Ukraine
Ukraine and the US, Part 1


  1. Haha loved this. Although I'm surprised you don't have free gym equipment in your parks! We have them in ours - not quite as grand as in Russia/Ukraine, but they exist. (Not sure that I've ever actually seen people using it in the States!)

    1. I'd love to see that equipment in a Portland park!! Would totally be using it. People here usually run or bike for fitness, or get a gym membership and call it good (that's me, haha).

  2. This book market--it's just off Rymarska, right? I bought so many books there. Thanks for bringing back a good memory.

    1. Hi Markian! That's the one : ) It sure was a fun place to visit. What kind of books did you buy there? I bought a guidebook to "1982 Kharkov" once, fascinating stuff.

  3. This is great! I loved seeing all of the tiny daily details that differ in your day. I must admit I've never seen an immersion heater...but I haven't seen cat mints, either!

    1. Glad it was interesting for you, Cassandra! Now you know a visit to a pet store is in order the next time you're stateside ;) It's a whole new world these days.

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