The marvelous Ukrainian summer has finally arrived! Romny is alive with people walking the streets, relaxing in the park and picnicking by the river. The streets are lined with beautiful trees and the air is full of allergies as the flowers bloom about the city making the playgrounds no longer the most colorful thing in town. Beer tents have popped up on every corner and the daylight seems to last forever. I love it, but it is so HOT I’m melting on my couch!
To commemorate my 9th month anniversary in Ukraine, I’ve composed another list of cross-cultual traditions and habits that have stood out to me in my hometown of Romny…
- Students and teachers are responsible for maintaining the school building. This means re-wallpapering, whitewashing, planting flowers, sweeping the walkway and painting the desks during spring and summer breaks
- If it is your birthday, you are responsible for bringing candy for everybody to share as well as pay for a dinner if you choose to have one. This often leads to really awkward situations for volunteers.
- When traveling cross-country or to the next town down the line, babushka bags comprise the majority of luggage on the train/bus.
- Never expect toilet paper to be in a bathroom.
- Grandmothers ride bicycles, often balancing 20 lbs of fresh vegetables on the handlebars.
- Trees, poles and curbs are painted white in the spring…I’ve heard many variations on why this is a tradition.
- Squatting is a completely acceptable position of rest.
- You can be served tea and chocolate on a train.
- Students can graduate into the real world at the age of fifteen!
- Bus stop food is a combination of delicious homemade perogies, buterbrods (open faced sandwhichs), beer, candy & coffee.
- Utorrent is installed on all of my school computers.
- Wallpaper is popular.
- Schools only produce a small can of trash per hallway in contrast to my high school’s large can per room.
- Scheduling is never a high priority.
- Gravestones have faces on them.
- Students apply to college only three months before they attend.
- Shoes must be kept as clean as possible, despite the awful road conditions. I don’t think I washed my shoes once in the USA, and now I scrub them once a week.
- You are only a guest in a house for three days, after which you must chip in the household chores.
- Leather jackets are more of a fashion staple than a fashion trend.
- Stray dogs rule the streets.
- Three day old warm milk is a delicacy, good for digestion and tasty. (Kefir) I love it!
- The exact dimensions of my flat can be found in flats throughout Ukraine.
- Chicken is not chicken, it is meat. Pork is not pork, it is meat. Sausage is not meat, it is sausage. Liver is not meat, it is liver. Turkey is not turkey, it is meat. Rabbit is not rabbit, it is meat….I’m so confused!
- There is a holiday almost every week of the year…(this is NOT an exaggeration).
To read some more, check out my friend Cynden’s Blog post on Ukrainian Traditions.