Every country has its share of myths and legends about the people, culture and landscape. Some of these have a basis in history, some in stereotypes and some in pure fantasy. One of the modest goals of the TransferGo Blog is to present facts, figures, and profiles of the different parts of our global community. In this post we look at the truth behind 10 myths about Ukraine:
- Work Prospects for Women are Poor
During the Soviet rule of Ukraine this myth was somewhat true. In part due to the peculiarities of the Communist-inspired social and business cultures, many men in the Ukraine expected their wives to become homemakers. In today’s independent Ukraine, higher education and career opportunities have both increased for women. Younger Ukrainian women especially are more likely to pursue careers after university rather than getting married and starting a family.
- Ukrainian Weather is Terrible
Many people think of the former Soviet Union as a cold and snowy place mostly as a result of the way it’s treated in television programmes and films. Ukraine actually has a continental climate with summers, which are slightly hotter, and winters which are slightly colder than the rest of Western Europe. The country has several different climate zones; the area around Kyiv is fairly similar to the weather in London, the southern area is temperate, and the coastal areas are sub-tropical.
- Ukrainians are Poorly Educated
Business Insider ranks Ukraine in the top 40 smartest countries in the world, based on standardised mathematics and science scores, and the country ranks fourth in terms of number of citizens with a higher education. A number of private initiatives designed to promote IT learning skills have resulted in a very tech-savvy workforce in recent years.
- Service in Ukraine isn’t Very Good
This myth is a holdover from the days of the Soviet Union when perception was that service in many restaurants, bars, hotels and businesses was fairly bad. Modern Ukraine, however, is just like any other city in Europe with a thriving service industry and very high rate of service in bars, restaurants, hotels and more.
- Ukrainian Food is Unhealthy
This myth is fuelled by the penchant of Ukrainians to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions with tables overloaded with food and the serving of multiple courses of rich, heavy foods. The fact that Ukrainians have an undeniable fondness for salo (pork fat) also contributes to this myth. However, outside of these celebrations, the Ukrainian diet is relatively modest and healthy. The country’s obesity rate is well below that of most Western countries and Russia.
- Ukrainians Marry Very Young
This is another holdover from the Soviet era. In the past many Ukrainians married young in order to secure a better spot in the queue for state housing. Younger Ukrainians tend now to be more career focused. The average age for people to marry is 30 for men and 27 for women.
- The Chernobyl Disaster Made Most of Ukraine Unsafe
The immediate area surrounding the Chernobyl power plant is indeed totally uninhabitable and is likely to remain so for the next couple of hundred years. Although you can visit it for short trips as part of government-approved tours. However, most of the country was relatively unaffected. Even so, the government regularly monitors the radioactivity levels for the country’s food and water supplies to ensure they are safe.
- Ukrainians Take Advantage of Tourists
Once again, this is a holdover from days gone by, when foreigners were often charged higher prices as businesses sought to obtain “hard currency”. Tourism makes up only a small portion of the Ukrainian economy now and is one of the areas the country would like to improve. Prices for goods and services are the same for tourists and locals.
- The Political Situation is Unstable
The recent conflict with Russia over the Crimea, and the voices of some politicians calling for closer ties with Russia, have garnered a great number of headlines. There is no doubt that the political situation is complex and is an issue that is on-going. By-and-large most Ukrainians are politically left-of-centre. The political situation does not contribute to an overtly unsafe environment for foreigners in the country for business or tourism.
- Ukrainians are Looking to Leave the Country
Several million Ukrainians live and work outside of the country. While this number is significantly larger than in the past, when emigration was strictly controlled, it is not out of line with other countries which allow the free movement of their citizens.