What, in general, do people in Ukraine think of Americans and our culture?

My son is engaged to a girl from Ukraine and is in the process of obtaining a fiance visa for her. She is a little unsure of herself as far as her English but seems to understand the language well. This being as it is, and the fact that she is very quiet make it hard to get to know her. I wish I knew more about her country, their customs and culture etc. Can anyone give me any insight into what it must be like for her to be planning on a move away from Ukraine to come live here?

By | 2013-08-26T21:19:03+00:00 August 26th, 2013|Mortgages Home Loans Interest Rate|4 Comments

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  1. Kevin August 26, 2013 at 10:18 PM - Reply

    My wife still struggles with the cultural issues of a move from Ukraine to the US, and the best advice I can give you is to be patient and never judge what she says. Many Americans incorrectly judge things, without understanding the cultural differences.

    For example, many people will tell you that Ukrainians are ‘rude and unfriendly’. They are very direct and to the point, and this is often seen by Americans as rude.

    I will also guess, since you say she understands English well, that she studied English in University. My wife is a university teacher of English in Ukraine, and when we first met, she was very suprised that I knew the color “orange” and that I knew how to use a knife. The textbooks they learn about America from are dated in the late 40’s and early 50’s, so the view is quite tainted. They really know little about America except the bad press that their news services give us (and this press is worse in Eastern Ukraine).

    They are a very superstitious people – even if they say they are not. Their culture is steeped in folklore and home remedies – and I find that often their ideas are very valid on health. They prefer natural foods, and your daughter-in-law will have a hard time with the bland taste of American vegetables. They also rely on public transportation, so travel by car will be an experience and she will have a hard time getting used to getting around on her own.

    I can not begin to tell you about their culture here, but be patient and ask lots of questions. Read as much as you can. Here are a few links:

    http://www.ukrainepostalexpress.com/culture.htm
    http://www.infoukes.com/culture/

    If you have specific questions, feel free to email me. My wife and I would be happy to help you acclimate to her cultural ideas, or explain anything you experience that you do not understand.

  2. tanuxa2002 August 26, 2013 at 9:47 PM - Reply

    I very much agree with Brandon’s answer. It very much depends on what the girl is like and what type of life she had in Ukraine (city she lived in, people hung out with….). Also remember since she is with your son there is probably much in common that they share which might mean she is the type of person who is already closer to your type of people.
    As a Ukrainian myself it is always nice to hear when people know stuff about Ukraine. make sure you don’t mix Uschenko and Yanukovich (its like evil and good, though people’s preferences differ), anyways if u read a bit about Ukraine, and remember names of biggest cities, few important names may be dates – it will make her feel more “human” in terms that she’s not from 3rd world country and that even on this side of the world people know about the place she is from.
    Moving might be an adventure though in any case it would be great if her “new” family would be ready to be as much supportive as possible, and even more then that. While i lived in US i had troubles even with finding way out of supermarket and would enter through exit doors (but that was loong ago, they do have supermarkets here now) but all of this little things, that are sort of in your blood, might be completely new. Care, attention, support – will be the best gift any “newcomer” could get.
    Good luck with exploring Ukraine 🙂

  3. Brendon August 26, 2013 at 9:46 PM - Reply

    Much of her perspective will depend on her own experiences with traveling and her own, individual impressions of the U.S.–and whether she’s been to the U.S. before, or not. I’d say it’s a safe bet that Ukrainians know more about the U.S., on average, than Americans know about Ukraine. She’s probably got some understandable fears about the move–it’s a big step. She’s moving away from everything she knows… her family, friends, culture, language, and all the places she knew growing up, for a foreign language and culture. I might suggest she get in touch and make a few friends amongst the Ukrainian-American community; there are quite a few Ukrainians living in the U.S., after all. To make the transition a little easier for her, embrace her and her culture–figuratively, of course, not literally. Do some reading about Ukraine’s long and interesting history, and its culture, and where it stands now in the world. I’ve have a few Ukrainian friends, and my newest Ukrainian friend was amazed that I’d even heard of or knew of the Orange Revolution, as an American… which is surprising, since the Orange Revolution was one of the few international stories the American press bothered to report about. Some of the fears she’s probably experiencing, beyond merely the move to a foreign language and culture, are probably also around the visa proceedings–the U.S. has been making it harder and harder for people to immigrate legitimately, which is ironic considering how easy it is for people to immigrate illegally. She’s probably worried about what jobs she’ll be able to get with that visa, with her schooling, and with her background. She’s probably worried about where she’ll be living and about making friends… again, going and finding a few Ukrainian friends to mix in with her new American friends isn’t a bad idea, even if it just gives her the chance to relax and revert to her mother tongue for a while. If she’s still in the process of learning or becoming more comfortable with English, be patient with her and speak a little more clearly and slowly to help her pick up the words; if she’s interested, take her to a bookstore to the section where English grammar workbooks and reference materials might be found–they’re invaluable to someone who wants to strengthen their English skills. Be there for her… the more support she has, especially from her new family, the more comfortable this huge change her life will be for her.

    EDIT: Tanuxa’s answer also makes some great points, too. Ukrainians are great people, and they’re not so different as many people might think–simply put yourself in her situation, even without knowing much about her culture or background, and you’ll already get an idea of what’s probably running through her mind at the moment.

  4. Heinz M August 26, 2013 at 9:28 PM - Reply

    They know very little about the USA. Coming over will be a big step for her. ~

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