About

Dear readers, welcome to 8 Months in Ukraine!

I'm Katherine!

Once upon a time D and I hopped on a plane in Alaska and hopped off in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Not knowing much about the city, we expected to stay only a short time (hence the name of the blog), but 8 months turned out to be just the beginning of a much longer love affair with the area. After countless adventures and almost 3 years as a programming/English-teaching duo, we've now returned to the US to plan the next chapter in our lives. Whether that will be here, there, or somewhere in between remains to be seen, but I can tell you that part of my heart will always belong to Kharkiv.


Oops, before I get too carried away with sentiment, here's The Story of How We Got Here:

2005: Fairbanks, Alaska. At a university party I meet a handsome, mysterious man from Eastern Europe. He turns out to be Denis from Ukraine (henceforth referred to as D). D agrees to help me learn Russian. Meanwhile I notice he's awfully cute and oh my, what a sexy accent! :p

2006: Yakutsk, Russia. Time to study abroad. Yakutsk is smack in the center of Siberia. I choose Yakutsk because it involves less paperwork than other cities (hint: unless you want to live in the real cold and study the Yakut language, do the extra paperwork.)
Obligatory Red Square shot en route to Yaktusk. September 2006.
August 15th, 2007: Crimea. D and I arrive to his hometown in the Crimean peninsula for a visit.

September 7th, 2007: Crimea. I've never been so overheated in my life! We drink lots of wine to try to cool off. I completely dismiss Ukraine as a country filled with grumpy people who are afraid of air conditioning. We return home to Alaska.

2009: Anchorage, Alaska. After graduating university with a degree in Spanish and Russian, I pester D to move to Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia because it sounds like fun.

2010: Anchorage, Alaska. D finally agrees. Russia does not. We keep interviewing. In the meantime, D works as a programmer and I serve a year via AmeriCorps at a refugee resettlement agency.

2011: Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russia still does not want us... but Ukraine does! I get a job teaching English and decide to give the country a second chance. Here we come, Ukraine!


I chose Kharkiv based on several hours of internet research and the advice of a penpal named Timur. Kharkiv turned out to be the perfect fit; it's big and cosmopolitan but still feels friendly and cozy. There are loads of international students from Asia and Africa so I didn't feel like the only foreigner, yet it's still quite rare to meet another English-speaker on the street. I got the feeling that a lot of locals couldn't care less about English but I was fortunate enough to meet the curious ones that do.
D teaching Timur how to use chopsticks
This blog was meant to document the ups and downs of life overseas and to stay in touch with loved ones. Now it's become more than that. It has introduced me to awesome people who have lived / are living in Ukraine.... that's my favorite part of blogging, getting to know other Ukraine fanatics like some of these talented authors.

I hope this blog will also be a valuable resource to those who are curious about the daily grind of life here. Some of the little details will surely change over time (restaurants closing, parks being remodeled) but you know what they say- the more things change, the more they stay the same, and that seems to be especially true about Ukraine.

Some of my favorite things to do:
@ Yevpatoria, Crimea
I'd love to hear from you, dear readers, with your stories, questions, or hopes for the future! Why are you interested in Ukraine? You can contact me via this blog's FB page or leave a comment on this page. If you'd like to see more photos from Ukraine, check out the 8 Months in Ukraine Facebook page.

Happy reading!


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50 comments:

  1. Looking forward to more of your time in Ukraine! I too have spent months there and even wrote a story on my time in the FSU.

    http://ruadventures.com/forum/index.php?topic=1578.0

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  2. Hello, I am Lena from W3, how to get in touch with you?

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    1. Hi Lena, it's nice to hear from you :) You can write me at katherine(at)english-ghoti(dot)com

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  3. Привет! Это Даня, писателница блога Сибирские Приключения. Ваш блог--так хорош! Я очень рада, что Вы на Украине. Можете менять менения люди, которые не знают об Америке или Украине. Продолжайте, пишите ещё!!!

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    1. Привет Даня! :) Как хорошо, что ты посетила меня. Спасибо за твой добрые слова!

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  4. I enjoyed reading your blog. I'm an American musician who works frequently in Russia and Ukraine (among other places). I spent eight days in Odessa this summer, as well as two weeks in Crimea, and really enjoyed both places.
    I'm writing to, in part, send this link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JbP2X67W_w&feature=plcp

    to a video I made after seeing some musicians in an underground passage in Kharkov. Maybe you'll run into them sometime.

    Cheers,

    kL

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    1. Hi kL, great video, thanks for sharing :) I'll keep an eye out for those guys as the accordionist had a very distinctive face. In the park this afternoon we saw a similar band with 5 older gentlemen performing. It's a real treat to hear so much music on the street in Ukraine!!

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  5. Great site! Keep up the wood work! I'm glad you're enjoying Kharkov, someone has to ;)

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  6. Hi Katherine, thank you so much for your lovely compliment! Today I'll be the only person walking around Riga with a smile on my face :) I look forward to hearing more of your Ukrainian adventures! Linda. (expateyeonlatvia)

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    1. Linda, thanks for visiting! Your new entry (Pidgin English) cracked me up. I admire how you can spin good stories without having to rely heavily on pictures- that's real talent. Keep it up!

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  7. Aw, thank you again! But uh oh, the next post will have a video link - but it's very fitting!!! I might try to attempt your borsht recipe at some point but I have a feeling things would go a bit pear-shaped after the champagne part!! :) Linda.

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  8. Hello Katherine, I found your blog when entering keywords such as "kharkov life" or smthng. love the optimistic view in it ! I also discovered HRK recently and love to find back all the places you pictured here. And loved the various words/sentences po ruskii too, as I am struggling to learn Russian. I will certainly continue to watch your findings about Kharkov and Ukraine ! Cheers - Mark

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    1. Hi Mark! So happy you came by :) and you taught me a new word- HRK! Had to Google that one, but I guess that's what I get for travelling by train all the time. Удачи with the Russian studies... it's an uphill climb but sooo worth it, right? Keep in touch!

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    2. )) that is due to my professional background ! May i write you to katherine(at)english-ghoti(dot)com (I saw it above) ?

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    3. Yes, please do! Looking forward to hearing from you : )

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  9. How wonderful! What a fantastic adventure. My husband's stepfather is from Ukraine. He moved here about 15 years ago and he still returns to his summer home in Ukraine every year. My husband's family on his mother's side is also from that area. So it's really exciting to me to read about your adventures. :o) xo

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    1. Hi Dena!! So nice of you to drop by : ) and what a coincidence that we're both connected to Ukraine, wow! What part of the country are your in-laws from? Maybe you guys will come visit someday with your son? : )

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  10. Very interesting blog! My husband and I have been throwing around the idea of visiting the Ukraine in the next few years…your photos might just convince me to make the leap.

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    1. It's a pretty cool place... and not that far from Spain! : )

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  11. Hello,

    Thanks for the blog! This has really interesting information that is useful as well. Do you have any advice for under 30 Americans who want to live and work in the Ukraine? My wife and I are in the process of working out the details to teach English there.

    Thanks for all your hard work on this blog and keeping it updated!

    Dan

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    1. Hi Dan!

      Thanks for your comment : ) My advice- do it!! Ukraine is such a fascinating place to experience, I think you guys will have a blast. Which city are you hoping to end up in?

      There are two things that'll help you adjust to life here more quickly:
      1) Learn some Ukrainian or Russian (depending upon which part of the country you'll be in) before you land. Even just a tiny bit will go far.
      2) Once you've got a city in mind, try looking for a Ukrainian penpal to give you some tips and info. It can be hard to find decent and updated information online about Ukraine. Before coming I made a penpal in Kharkiv using interpals.net and he helped us out soooo much with everything from "what's the weather like?" to finding an internet provider to silly questions like "Do they sell dice in Ukraine?". There are tons of really friendly Ukrainians online (usually looking for English practice) who are happy to help.

      Drop me a line anytime at katherine at english-ghoti dot com if you'd like : ) Hope it all works out for you and your wife!

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  12. Just found your blog while searching for news of Kharkov in English. So sad what's going on in Ukraine right now. I lived in Kharkov in 1998-99 as a Peace Corps volunteer. It was nice to see your photos with many places that were familiar and many that have changed a lot in 15 years. Best of luck, Jeffrey Boyce

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    1. Thanks for stopping by with a comment, Jeffrey. I appreciate it! Yes, a very sad and uncertain time for Ukraine right now... hopefully there will soon be a peaceful resolution to these events and no more lives will be lost. I hope all your friends here from your Peace Corps days are doing all right.

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  13. just found your blog, its is excellent. I am from Cheyenne Wyoming and trying to get a clearer picture of what is happening in Ukraine. You are correct in saying the media is all distorted and it is hard to get the facts. sadly the Americans today know little of current events. My grand parents were from Hussenbach, Russia ( a different name today) but still has similarities with the Russian and Ukraine culture. just hope that the Russian and Ukraine people do not get in the hate, and fanatic state. It is hard to see how this new government in Kiev would put in power the 2 billionaires. it doesn't make sense that the man on the street would agree to this. Also i did not know you could not have Dual citizenship in Ukraine. mainly hope things calm down and Ukraine gives the best life to all its people. thanks again for your blog. Linda

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    1. Hi Linda, thank you for finding my blog : ) Yes, it's not easy to get a clear view, even from here. I just watched a video today that made Kharkov look like a war zone which, thank God!, it's not. I too hope that things calm down and people are free to pursue a better life for themselves as they see fit.

      Yes, that dual citizenship bit is interesting especially since Russia allows it. I know a number of businessmen here who have Ukrainian/Russian or Ukrainian/EU passports. Now it sounds like the new Ukrainian government is trying to pass a law that criminalizes having a second citizenship (from what I understand, although it's already against the law, there's no currently no punishment for it). Will be interesting to see if the law goes through and if so, how people respond.

      Wishing you a nice spring in Cheyenne : )

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  14. Good evening I also found you blog by surfing the net trying to find some real life news on Ukraine specifically Kherson. As we are planning a trip there in a little while, and with all the propaganda form both sides its hard to know what is truly going on. Reading your blog has given me some sense that life is going on. Thanks and Happy Birthday! Zak

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    1. Thanks, Zak. Hope you have a great trip to Kherson!

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  15. Goodluck over there in Ukraine.

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  16. hi katherine, send me a note when you have time. have a good week.

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  17. Hi there, Evan here! I left a message on your facebook, about the best way to get in contact for some much need advice :) Hope to hear from you soon, Oh and love the blog :D

    Evan

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    1. Hi Evan! Glad you enjoy : ) I'll head over to FB to check your message now!

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  18. Hey katherine..
    I hope u r still active here.. Im hazem el jacky ( egyptian ) but currently i live in malaysia
    I was wondering how to move to ukriane and is it a good step or i should rethink again ? Need your advice and your help as well :)
    Thank you in advance
    Hazem el jacky
    +60109586188

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    1. Hi Hazem!

      Are you planning on studying in Ukraine? If so, the university you're accepted to should be able to help you through all the paperwork + find housing, learn the language, etc. Or are you thinking of working in Ukraine? In that case it's a little trickier. But in either case, I'd suggest a short visit (about 1 month) to the city you'd like to move to. That will help you get a good feel for life there. As for everything that's happening now economically and politically, some people see opportunities and others, well, they chose not to come to Ukraine because of the instability. A short visit would help you understand the realities of living in Ukraine at the moment and what it would be like for you personally. :) Good luck!

      PS: Kharkiv is the best city! ;)

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  19. Hi, Katherine! I was googling for an English speaking community n Kharkiv and your blog was on the very top of the search results. I'm native Ukrainian (born in Kharkiv region), who spent 13 years out of Ukraine (Finland, Russia) and suddenly decided to come back. Thus I was very curious to read what Europeans/Americans think about Kharkiv and decided to look at your blog. It looks awesome, really :) Quite a lot of interesting texts, thanks! Sincerely wishing the best in Kharkiv to you!

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    1. Privet Andrey :) Thank you for your comment and wishes. So you're living in Kharkiv now? How is it? We left in summer 2014 and I miss it SO MUCH :) Hope you are having a great time there!

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    2. Privet :) Yes, me and and my family are renting an apartment in Kharkiv, I found an interesting job of software developer here. Before this we spent one year in Moscow and surprisingly salaries in IT are nearly same in Kharkiv as in Moscow (thanks to many European and US companies which pay in USD ;)) ! Kharkiv feels very cozy and small after Moscow, but quite modern at the same time. Places around train stations look not very attractive, but Sumskaya street is amazing! There also seems to be very quiet around, I mean this terrible military conflict and criminals. Only the news spoil this nice calm feeling. Recently the weather has been gloomy and cloudy, I'm looking forward to snow and a sun! Come back to Kharkiv, they sell nice Kievskiy cakes on Sumskaya ;)

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    3. Hi Andrey! You got your wish- I saw that a bunch of snow was dumped on Kharkiv overnight. Looks super-wintery over there now!

      Wow, that is surprising (about the salaries). I would have assumed Moscow would automatically pay more because of the cost of living there. My husband worked as a software developer in Kharkiv too, pity that you guys didn't get the chance to meet. He really liked the local IT scene and went to lots of interesting meetups and events.

      Speaking of cakes, just last night we finally found a bakery here that sells Napoleon cakes :D Only took a year to find, haha!

      Kind of random, but do you know of anyone who is blogging nowadays from Kharkiv? It'd be really nice to keep up with local odds and ends. Or maybe you'll start a blog? :)

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    4. Eh, actually the snow is awful, it's so wet now on the streets and absolutely no sun. It also caused some troubles with electricity supply (not sure, if the reason was snow or wind).
      I guess you mean English blogs about Kharkiv? No, I haven't seen any yet. Your blog is the best so far and the most detailed. I assume most of foreigners settle down in Kiev and those who stay in Kharkov have native language other than English. I remember in far late 90-s I could practise my spoken English in Kharkov only with Arabic people :) and could only dream about practise with a native speaker (in was so expensive!). I think teaching English in Ukraine is a profitable business nowadays, especially if you're native speaker and even speak some Russian/Ukrainian. So many people dreaming to leave Ukraine and to go abroad.
      Talking about my own blog, well, maybe yes I could write something in a style of Ukrainian re-expat, but currently I have crazily busy life as I came to Ukraine just 1 month ago and having 2 relatively small kids.

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    5. Well, if you decide to start a Ukrainian re-expat blog someday, definitely count me in as one of your readers, Andrey :) Stay warm over there!

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  20. Hi Katherine, I want to work teaching ESL or anything for that matter in Kiev. I can move as early as March or earlier. My contact info- Tim / mobile ph 646.866.9851 / email timsweetusa@gmail.com / thanks, Kat

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    1. Hi Tim! I've just replied to you on FB :) Good luck!

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  21. Good day Katerine, After my third trip to Ukraine, I fell in love. Hard to explain to people here and even to someone from Ukraine. Most people ask me why I want to move to Ukraine, when so many are trying to leave. My simple reply is, "the grass is not always greener on the other side". I am returning to Ukraine in April to research moving there and teaching English, plus using my IT back group for additional options. Life is hard no matter where you are in this world. Look for that special place, that brightens your soul. Ukraine was the place for me.

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    1. Ah, I totally get where you're coming from. Ukraine is such a unique place and hard to understand from the outside / international-media view. What part of the country are you thinking of moving to?

      Wishing you a very good life in your new home :)

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  22. Wow! Ukraine! I've heard horrible things about Ukraine in terms of safety, but I don't really like stereotypes because I feel like they are always from people who actually have no idea about the world. So many Russian stereotypes were dispelled when I moved to Russia. I'm about to look at your other blog, Street Russian. :)

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Jasilyn! :) Yes, there are definitely a lot of those stereotypes floating around about both Ukraine and Russia. It's especially interesting when there's a big public event (Euro2012, Sochi Olympics) and everyone starts coming out of the woodwork claiming "Oh, it's so bad there! / Actually it's not bad there." and no one knows who to believe ;)

      I'm looking forward to following your adventures in Ufa and learning more about the city!

      Hope you find Street Russian useful. Does your school provide you with Russian lessons?

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    2. No, they don't, but actually the brother of a friend of a friend is giving me free lessons once a week. He's an English tutor but offered to tutor me in Russian for free because he wants experience teaching Russian to foreigners and I help him with any English questions he has, like what words do we actually use in English speech and so on.

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    3. Very cool, language exchanges are the best :) Wishing you lots of success with your Russian studies!

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