Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Helpful Hints for Kiev--Day 2

Marsh had me bring clothes that would look the most Ukrainian because it's not a great idea to stand out as a tourist or American in these large cities. Boy am I glad I fit in a little! (He says my straight teeth make people think I am either a movie star or from another country. :) ) It's uncomfortable to be somewhere where you can't speak the language and have no idea how to ask for help or anything else. So I thought I would share some tips on what things are like here so you can know how best to fit in.
We were on public transportation almost all day (not something I would advise unless you have someone who knows their way around and can speak the language!). And while I was staring at the floor, trying not to make eye contact (see Behavior below), I was taking mental notes on the differences and similarities between their various life stages and the fashions to go along with them.
Women's fashions:
  • Here in Kiev, some people wear jeans. In the outer towns, that may not be so.
  • A lot of fur...fur lined coats with huge furry collars are the most common.
  • Dark colors. Occasionally I'd see a woman wearing pink or cream, but that was very rare. Most people wear black or gray. Same goes for both genders.
  • Shoes are usually black with a pointed toe (rounded point is most common)
  • High heeled boots are most common among younger women
  • Women always carry bags, not back packs. Their bags are usually dark and often made of faux alligator skin.
  • I did not observe one woman wearing earrings. In the US it is a fashion to wear big ones...I wouldn't do that here. It's too uncommon.
  • Ponytails are often worn low on the neck
  • Gloves and scarves are common in these colder temperatures.
  • Things seem to be either really plain or really gaudy. Women will wear Stilletto-type heels, mini skirts, black leather and jewels on their clothes and shoes...or their clothes will be rather plain and dark. I felt like I fit in alright with my black skirt and shoes and my brown faux fur lined skirt and black scarf and gloves.

Men's fashions:

  • Dark colors...blacks, greys, browns
  • Men rarely wear jeans.
  • Men do not carry backpacks...they use bags that are usually black, too. A computer bag would work fine.
  • Black coats are most common.
  • Everything is pretty non-descript on the men...not many name brands or designs on clothing.


  • Do not look anyone in the eye unless you have a reason to converse with them
  • Do not smile at anyone
  • Men give up their seat on the metro and the women just take it
  • Shove your way on the metro with no concern for anyone else...getting interesting, isn't it?
  • Dicker down on prices at the tourist shopping areas
  • Don't small talk with people
  • Walk fast and act like you know where you're going
  • Don't take pictures unless you want everyone to know you're a tourist.
  • Wear your passport in a pouch around your neck and under your clothes (these can be found at Walmart or anywhere)
  • Wear your cash in a money belt under your clothes
  • Don't use public transportation in Kiev unless you have a native or former missionary with you!
  • Don't expect people to smile at you or feel offended when they don't. That is just how they are here.

1 comment:

  1. So when I travel to Kiev, I now know what to do. thanks!