Category Archives: Life In Russia | Ukraine

What Is a Russian or Ukrainian Wedding Like?

Russian / Ukraine Wedding

Russian and Ukrainian weddings are an amazing experience. I should know. I experienced my own Ukrainian wedding as the groom just a few years ago. If you've never been a part of one, I'd like to share some of the highlights with you here.

First, it should be noted that we got married a few months earlier, in an official ceremony in a government building known as ZAGS. It's a very brief “ceremony”, and it was actually just myself, Dasha and her father (as the witness) along with the government official. That part of the process was all about making it official and legal. In this photo, we're signing one of (the many) official documents.

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Popular Russian Foods


Have you ever heard of the Russian food called 'salo'? Neither had I, until I moved here. I was pretty shocked to find out what it was my hosts were asking me to eat, but I'll save the salo discussion for a bit later in the article. (I don't want to scare you off Russian and Ukrainian food! :-) ) Read More »

Tips on Buying an Apartment in Ukraine


I know many guys – Westerners, I mean – who’ve bought apartments in Ukraine. It’s a relatively easy and painless process. I was with my wife through the whole process when she bought our Sevastopol apartment, so I have a first hand account of all the details. First the question is: Should you even bother to buy? Or, Why should you consider buying an apartment in Ukraine or Russia? Well, if you travel there enough, it can certainly be worth it. I know guys who spend six months out of the year in Ukraine, and there’s no doubt it’s more ... Read More »

What Is Banking Like in Ukraine?


As with all things about living in Ukraine, there are pluses and minuses to their system. Here's the big plus: You can easily earn 20% on a deposit. Can you imagine that? In the U.S. my money earns 2% if I'm lucky. Read More »

Having A Baby In Ukraine


On August 1st, 2013 my Ukrainian wife delivered our son, Andrei in her hometown hospital, here in Lutsk Ukraine. As I write, I’m sitting beside his bassinet as he sleeps. In this moment of calm, I’d like to describe for you what it’s like to deliver a baby in Ukraine. Let me tell you: It’s a weird system over here. As a Ukrainian citizen, my wife’s health care is free. In fact, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, they pay women to have children: $4K for the first, $7K 2nd, etc. But that’s not the weird part I’m talking about. The weirdness ... Read More »

Russian Holidays


Living here in Ukraine, it sometimes feels like every third day is a holiday. They honestly seem to have a LOT of holidays here in Ukraine (and Russia). Without a doubt, the most important one is New Years Eve. This is when they give gifts, so it’s almost like Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years all rolled into one for them. If you can ever attend a “Novi God” (sounds like “NOH-vee gote”) celebration with a Russian or Ukrainian family, take advantage of the invite. It’s a special treat. To see how my Ukrainian wife and I celebrated a recent New ... Read More »

What Are Russian and Ukrainian Trains Like?

Although I have ridden on Russian trains, I have much more experience on Ukrainian trains, especially in the past few years. So, what are they like? Watch this video, first, to get a good feel… Sure, Ukrainian (and Russian) trains are fairly loud and rickety, and they can sometimes be stuffy…but they’re also a whole lot of fun. Personally, I love the relaxed pace of sitting in the “CB” (pronounced “ess-veh”) two-person VIP sleeper room. I bring a good book and just relax and enjoy the ride. The bumpy ride and noise bothered me on my very first ride, but ... Read More »

Life in Ukraine Q & A


I had an exchange on Facebook with Brandon Hayes who was asking about the advanced Russian Accelerator course, as well as what life is like in Ukraine. I thought this would be an interesting read for many of you, so I’m posting it here: Q & A with Brandon Hayes Brandon: Wow. you live in Ukraine…I didn’t know. Where in Ukraine do you live? What do you enjoy most about Ukraine? Mark’s response: Hi Brandon, For five years I lived in warm and sunny Sevastopol, Ukraine on the southern tip of the Crimean Peninsula. It’s a gorgeous Black Sea town. ... Read More »

Shashlik: Barbeque Russian Style


Stay long enough with your Russian friends during the summer, and they will eventually invite you to a Russian-style cookout called shashlik. Sure, on the surface, barbeque is barbeque wherever you go, but nonetheless the Russian experience is unique, and very worth doing. Here’s what will happen: Everyone packs into a car or two and drives out of the city to the woods. It might be to a designated area of sorts, with picnic tables, but just as often it’s simply to the woods themselves, perhaps by a lake. First tip: Bring OFF or some insect repelling equivalent. After finding ... Read More »

Think you know what a Russian dacha is?


Think you know what a Russian dacha is? In Russian, a ‘dacha’ is a simple – often primitive – home erected on a plot of farm land. The dacha owned by my Ukrainian wife’s parents, for example, is just over three acres. These are not intended as quaint, country homes for weekend getaways (as seems to be the perception among westerners.) These are places where Russian and Ukrainian people can go to grow their own food, and they are literally vital to their way of life. As you’ll see in the photos below from a recent visit to my wife’s ... Read More »