Why I moved to Ukraine for 10 months


What makes a science student turned journalism student move to Ukraine to study dance for nearly a year?

Well, if you think of a good reason, let me know and I'll pass it along to my parents.

Actually, it's not so out of the blue. I've been a Ukrainian dancer for 19 years, starting out with Rossdale Ukrainian Dance School then Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, a group I joined seven years ago.

In 2014, Troyanda travelled through Croatia, Hungary, and Austria, and after our trip, I went with my mom and her cousin to Ukraine for a few days to meet our relatives. Our connection to them is my mom's baba (grandmother) who moved to Canada in the early 1900s.

I've been interested in Ukrainian culture for a while, dance sparking my interest. Through dance, I've learned about folklore, traditions, and history, but I never made studying Ukrainian culture my focus — until now.


Yes, I could have studied it in university, but what better way to learn about a country than to live in it? So here I am, after six years of post-secondary education and a degree and a diploma, leaving it all behind to focus on my Ukrainian background. (Ok, well I'm not leaving it all behind. I will continue to write, on this blog and perhaps elsewhere, and I'll continue to learn about Ukrainian flora and its uses — so both writing and science will continue.)

I'll be in a new city training with a new dance group every two months. There are seven of us doing this yearlong dance program, organized by Cobblestone Freeway Tours. Six are from Canada (three of us are from Manitoba!), and one from the States. We'll have time for plenty of excursions, so if you have suggestions of what we must see, let me know!

This blog, much like Ukrainians, will discuss many things. I will write about the people I meet, the dances I learn, the food I eat, the superstitions I must now follow, and the sights (and plant and fungi) I see. Maybe I'll even write about my (assumed) struggle to learn the Ukrainian language. (I can read Cyrillic, and I know about 50 words ... there is room for improvement.)


First stop: Kyiv, a city of three million (just a tad more than Winnipeg, which has 700,000). My roommate and I have settled into our apartment and are starting to explore the many cafes, restaurants, and shops, both the above- and below-ground ones.

It's fun learning about a place, but it's even more fun to share what you've learned. That's where you come in. Follow along, comment, and connect with me on this blog, Instagram, and Twitter.

And Ukraine, I look forward to getting to know you better, and in turn getting to know myself better too.

До побачення!

Thumbnail photo by Evgeny Kraws.