Several years ago I had two layovers in Kiev, Ukraine while I was traveling to London, England from New York, USA. Throughout this blog post I will detail my initial thought on Ukraine and Eastern European culture. I will recount my short but memorable experiences here plus share some tips on ways to make the most out of your trip to Kiev. This is part 1 of 2 blog posts. (Click here to read part 2.)
It was a semi dark evening sometime during the summer, when I landed at Kiev’s Intl’ airport, I was supposed to meet up with a Senegalese male host I had been speaking with via CouchSurfing app( link). It was now time to meet face to face, at least I had then felt that he was trustworthy due to use texting almost everyday… that would be my first tip. At least if you’re doing it this way, the Couchsurfing way. Try to create rapport with your host prior to staying with them. 😅😅
So I exited the airport, with no ability to even say “hello” in Ukrainian/ Russian -__- I had to resort to the basic human facial expressions and body language combos (a smile, a sad face, or shaking my head or saying “no”).
I headed outside to meet him by the charter buses that stopped at the airport to pick up/ drop off passengers to get them to the city and other areas of the state. I met my CouchSurfing host, we shook hands, smiled at one another, sat by him on the charter bus where chatted about the little stuff (i.e. how are you, how’s Uni, etc). The ride was close to an hour but I did my best to try to see as much as I could from the charter bus’s windows, the environment, scenery, the civilians faces, buildings architecture, cars, etc.
Shortly, after that we arrived at our stop, which was near a subway station that we would have to use to get to the host’s international student apartment.
So this is where things became a little weird 😅😅, that’s also when I became aware that my host and I were the only black people around! Everyone kept staring at us with what I interpreted as grim/ emotionless expressions on their faces aahaha! I remember thinking “oh dang, this 15 hours layover is going to be one to remember forever!”
We boarded the subway and i’m not lying, even the train conductor was staring at us as the subway car pulled in LOL! That was a first for me! As soon as we boarded, all of the attention was on us ( a black American woman and a tall, handsome, dark skinned Senegalese male). The stillness, coldness, and quietness of it all was just magnified ahah! I really don’t think that if I was there by myself I would have been able to function in that environment/ that specific culture since it’s vastly different from my norm. However, I commend my host because he’s had to deal with that for years, since he was a student of a prominent Kiev University.
I’ll stop part 1 here. Stay tuned for part 2 of my Ukrainian adventures.
Have you had a similar experience?
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