„Are you sure? Isn’t that dangerous? I mean, there is war!“ This is what my friends said when I told them I’m gonna go to Kiew, Ukraine. First I thought those were stupid stereotypes – however, I have to admit I actually checked the German ministry for foreign affairs’ website then wether they’d recommend not to go to there. It was said I shouldn’t worry. It would have been too late anyways, my application for the exchange „If I Were in Your Shoes“ organised by AEGEE Kiev was already accepted and flights were booked.
Almost every day had the same structure.
- getting up too early (due to the night before),
- having fast breakfast in our great hostel,
- starting with some of the workshops or lectures,
- lunch at a restaurant,
- a trip,
- more food,
- returning to the hostel,
- dinner at a restaurant
Let’s start with the more serious (but still fun) part:
The project was about civil engagement and how, especially young, people can participate in (local) politics in Ukraine. The great organisers arranged a lot of interesting lectures and workshops by people who are very engaged with their project or initiative. From employees of Amnesty International presenting their latest idea how to fight corruption in Ukraine to an initiative watching international media’s report about current events in the country (e.g. war in the east, Crimea, relationship to other countries,…) to a local project creating and demanding more bike paths in the city. The range of topics was incredibly wide and personally really enriching.
Our Ukrainian friends brought us to great places. Instead of having lunch or dinner somewhere in a fastfood restaurant we had typical local food like „kiev chicken“ or special dumplings. The most important thing at lunch turned out be the drink: KOMPOT. That is some red non-alcoholic fruity and especially sweet drink everyone should have there for lunch.
About the trips:
Of course, the wonderful people of AEGEE Kiev, organised a classic city tour with a guide who brought us to the most famous sights. But they also prepared a special tour for us – we went to see murals which became a big and controversial thing in the city now since it’s really changing the look of the city. For one trip we left the city and went to see a national park – formerly known as president Janukovich’s residence including laboratories to check whether is food isn’t poisoned, a private chapel and many more useful facilities.
About the nights:
Short version – we enjoyed each of them.
To sum it up:
Applying for this exchange was a great decision and I don’t wanna miss this experience. I want to thank again all the organisers who made all of this possible! I am really happy I can now abolish some prejudices and share my experiences and impressions about Kiew and our new Ukrainian friends. Next time you think about a city trip in Europe – forget about western metropoles. Go to Kiev and experience some of the most interesting cities in Europe!
Thank you AEGEE Kiev – It was a pleasure!
published by: Richard