The Beauty of Ukraine – A Personal Account
–– Mariia Orobinska
Turning on the TV or scrolling through the news, one will always find the dramatic photos of my country being attacked. I am here in Erfurt, participating in a research project and I would like to introduce you to my country, not as a part of this turning point in history but a beautiful place. Ukraine is a delightful and diverse country. A country you may fall in love with. Hence, I would like to show you the allure of Ukraine, to offer an imaginary journey.
I would start a trip from my native city Kharkiv. Dynamic and young. My dearest native city. Innumerable parks and fountains, constructivist monsters in the old city and impressive Stalin Empire buildings, countless coffee shops and 1,5 million of rushing-somewhere people. I know every corner of it, every path. I would like to share it with you.
Our next stop is Kyiv. Everything is a matter of perception, isn’t it? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Being a Kharkiv citizen, I don’t really like Kyiv. Perhaps, I am a little jealous of capital status that was taken from my city in favour of Kyiv. Nevertheless, it’s worth visiting for sure! 839 km2 full of life! 1500 years of history and stories. Golden domes, chestnuts in blossom. The place Christianity moved east. Just imagine the whole nation being baptised at once at these riversides more than 1000 years ago. Let’s try not to get lost in space and time.
This one is without rush, but with feeling. Lion’s city. Lviv. The streets are always full with coffee aroma. Polish and Ukrainian languages are mixed. Strangers greet you. It’s all about hills. Perhaps, it happens if there is no water. Going up and going down. One may be waiting for the meal for an hour, but make new friends over one night. No contradictions, it’s just the way it is. I fell for it many years ago and still I am in love.
Now, probably, we need some rest. So we are heading to the Carpathian mountains. Whatever happens mountains can cure it. These mountains are alive. They are inhabited with spirits.
Kamianets-Podilskiy. So tiny, so cosy, so familiar. No one believes it is a Ukrainian city, it doesn’t look like it. And it is its charm. Enjoying the spectacular views at the castle and old legends. Everything is charming here.
We’ve seen mountains, so it’s a high time to go to the sea. Welcome to Odessa. I am a person of cities, so Odesa is a good compromise. “Watch your belongings” is always said at the railway station as a joke and as a warning. This city is about humour, it’s about the hair smelling of the sea, walking up enormous stairs, eating just seafood and laughing.
Pink waters, pink lakes in the South. It’s such a joy to walk this water, to see a sunset, to feel the water pushing you out and, of course, leave your shoes somewhere, because no shoes may survive this salty pink water.
I hope this small tour will encourage you to look at Ukraine from a different perspective and motivate you to learn more about my country.
— Mariia Orobinska is an associate professor in Russian as a second language from Kharkiv National Automobile and Highway University in Ukraine. She joined the KFG “Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations” as a Ukraine Fellow in May 2022. In the KFG she works on her project “Cult constructions in Ukrainian and British literatures”.