When you travel to Ukraine, you enter a country full of paradoxes. The Ukrainians are proud of their roots, and reticent about their recent past; the country participates in international space programs and produces the world’s largest aircraft, but still lives in a world of superstitions. The Ukrainian way of life is a mix of the old Soviet legacy, centuries-old customs, and a search for a new European identity.
The word ukraina means “borderland,” and indeed for centuries the country was a border province of great empires. Different states fought bloody wars for the fertile Ukrainian lands and tore the country to pieces. Its history has been a constant struggle for independence and freedom, and foreign domination has left indelible traces in the Ukrainian mentality: Ukrainians are fatalistic, patient, and resilient, and one of the most popular sayings translates as “Things will improve somehow.”
Culture Smart! Ukraine will help you get to know the Ukrainians at home, at work, and at play. It will inform you about the historical, political, and religious background that continues to shape the Ukrainian psyche today. Using illustrative anecdotes, it describes present-day values and attitudes, and offers practical advice on what to expect and how to behave in different social circumstances. It aims to make you feel at ease, whether you are sitting at a generously spread Ukrainian dinner table, shopping in a market, or attending a formal business meeting.
Vitayemo!—Welcome to Ukraine!