Tips That Help You Better Associate With Locals in Kiev
Majority of Ukrainians do not speak English, especially older people. So, if you ask for assistance on the street, Ukrainians sometimes look absolutely embarrassed. It does not mean they are rude or impolite, it simply means they are really embarrassed they don’t understand you. So, if you can’t find required phrases in your phrasebook and need help from locals, ask youngsters for the assistance, sometimes even teenagers, as due to recent more intensive study of English at school and a lot of courses of English throughout the city, teenagers as a rule are able to understand you and guide in simple words as for directions, metro stops, attractions so on.
The best place to start getting acquaint with locals in Kiev is cafes and pubs (like elsewhere in the world, though in Kiev it is quite usual that people get acquaints just on the streets). Choose pubs with signboards like “true Irish pub”, “real Dublin in Kiev” and suchlike, especially those located in Kiev downtown. Such pubs may help much, as they are often attended by both foreigners speaking good English and locals speaking not bad English.
It’s recommended to contact a local incoming tour agency for initial assistance and advices in advance, when you are still at home and just plan your itineraries. Almost all staff of the agencies speaks English and will be pleased to help. On the other hand, if you are already in Kiev and still need help of a qualified local guide, Internet is widely accessible via wi-fi in Kiev pubs and cafes. So, iphone, laptop or another device will help you to establish initial contact. By the way, all the electronic devices are widely used in Kiev as well, so you may not be afraid of theft (you should keep an eye upon yours though, as there are still risks like in many other large and crowded cities worldwide).
Even if access to Internet is somehow a problem for you, there is still a way-out. Seek for “Kiev Post” weekly tabloid in English. It can easily be found in many hotels, restaurants, cafes and pubs, you can also buy it in numerous press kiosks scattered all around Kiev. In the Classified section you will find many ads and announcements of activities held for both locals and foreigners.
You might hear many times that Ukrainians drink a lot of heavy alcohol. Partially it true, partially it’s a myth. Ukraine is really one of the largest producer of vodka in the world, but during your stay in Kiev you will easily make sure that vodka is far not the only local drink. A lot of beers, wines, both domestic and imported from around the world, and other drinks are commonly used there.
Looking for decent cuisine at moderate price with no drunken feasts and carousels? Look into a cafe or a restaurant on Podil (Sagaidachnogo Street) and nearby Kreschatyk. Here you will find good cuisine that values your money and meet people who most probably speak at least some English as well.
You may also ask your guide in Kiev for more options.
So, after spending several days in Kiev you realize that the city is not so scaring and unfriendly, as you might have heard of it before. On the contrary, Ukrainians are open, emotional and ready to chat, even if their English is far from perfect.
Enjoy your staying!