Posts in Exploring Ukraine
Ukraïner shares stories of historical and modern Ukraine

The Google rabbit hole is one of my favourite places.

A few months back, I was looking for information about the lizhnyk, a traditional wool blanket from the Hutsulshchyna region of Ukraine. In January 2018, I was in Yavoriv, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast and visited the home of a craftswoman who makes these blankets, and though I took some notes, I still wanted more info (and also was probably procrastinating doing something).

So I searched around online a bit, and I came across an article with video and photos on a website called Ukraïner. After learning more about the lizhnyk, I dove deeper into Ukrainer’s site—I was hooked. And you will be too.

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My year in Ukraine in photos

One year ago I flew from Ukraine to Canada. I purposely don’t say “flew home” because I don’t necessarily see Canada as my home. Well, it is one of my homes — it’s just not the only one, and saying “I flew home” implies that Ukraine wasn’t my home, which it most certainly was.

When I moved to Ukraine, I’d get these flashes of feelings from Canada, the most common instigator being when I saw someone in Ukraine who looked like a Canadian friend.

Maybe I was still adjusting to being so far from what I had known as home for all my life, and so I was looking for something to bring me comfort. This lasted a month, maybe two. And before you knew it, I would see Ukrainians who looked like other Ukrainians I had met in the city before.

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Training with Ukraine's top folk dance ensembles: The 'Best of' list

Dance festival season is upon us.

It’s a time of year that has dancers practising their combos under their desks at school, costume coordinators working day in and day out making their volunteer position feel more like a full-time job, and instructors and choreographers feeling excited and nervous and stressed and proud and tired and energized — just so many feelings.

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My Ukrainian village experience in Zalavye, Ternopil

I’ve tried starting this post about five different ways.

My idea was to start with the most exciting and most interesting part, mid-story, then go back to the start. Except the thing was, there were many “most exciting” parts — me, sitting on the bus, full of anticipation and curiosity and wonder and mild confusion, on my way out to my family’s village; the car ride to my family’s house when the guy next to me, a friend of my cousin’s, kept sniffing my armpit; driving (OK, speeding) into town with my cousin and his friends when all of a sudden one of them pulls a bottle of horilka (vodka) from under the seat and passes it around for a shot; the bathroom experience at the gas station (the punchline: there was no toilet); having a final (couple) drink(s) in the car outside my family’s home at who-knows-what-time AM.

Instead, why don’t I just start at the beginning?

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The intriguing city of Poltava, Ukraine

If Poltava were an animal, it would be an alligator.

On our drive to the city, Kyrylo from Cobblestone Freeway Tours told us a story as a way to prepare us for our next home.

I don't remember the entire story word for word, so let me tell you my own version.

There was this guy. He was from a village. Not many people left this village. But he did. He went on an African safari where he spotted countless new sights. When he returned home to his village, he told his friends about what he saw.

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English magazine in Ukraine What's On Kyiv

Since October, I've been writing for What's On Kyiv, an English magazine about Ukraine based in Kyiv. Since this was only my second time in Ukraine, the idea for my WO column was to give a Canadian's take on the Ukrainian lifestyle.

Click the headlines in the post to read the full stories.

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What to see in Lutsk, Ukraine

To give you a sense of the vibe of Lutsk, let me tell you a story.

My friends and I caught a bus to go to a dance class (where I became a master of krump) led by one of the dancers of the Волинський народний хор, where I trained for two months. The artistic director of the Volyn ensemble, Valeriy Smyrnov, was on the bus with his wife, Myroslava. We were all heading to the same place, School #25 for rehearsal with the group Джерельце, where they both teach as well.

At one point along the way, an older woman got on the bus. She moved slowly, using a cane. Like most people in this country, she was dressed in what as a Canadian I would call "Sunday best", but as someone who's lived in Ukraine for nine months would call "everyday wear". Valeriy got up so she could sit down, (actually he had Natalya, who was sitting in a chair on its own, sit by Myroslava so the older woman had a more accessible seat).

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Caving in Ternopil Oblast

To spelunk is to live.

And to think that before I didn't even know what the word "spelunking" meant. (It's the exploration of caves a.k.a. caving.)

On our way back from our Easter celebrations in Lviv and Tulova, we stopped in the village Korolivka in the Ternopil Oblast.

I wasn't sure what to expect. My dad and I went into caves in Cuba about 10 years ago, and all I remember is I saw lots of bats and no crawling was required.

Well, as we pulled up into the parking lot of the start of the cave expedition, I was even less sure of what to expect.

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Easter in Ukraine

People jump up at a willow tree in a public square, grabbing low hanging branches to be blessed in church.

A boy laughs and runs around his grandma, trying to hit his dad with pussy willows.

Hundreds of people gather, ladies with their heads covered in scarves, waiting for their turn to go into church.

These are just a few scenes from Easter in Ukraine. I saw some Easter celebrations in Lutsk, like Palm Sunday and a large pysanky display, but I went to Lviv for Orthodox Easter weekend (April 7 to 9). Cobblestone Freeway Tours had a couple things planned for us girls, and my parents joined too.

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