The Wayfarer's Book

Why I Decided to Stay in Kiev

Two new coffee shops have opened up on my street in the last week. One is right down the block from a shop called Meat Loves Cheese, which I have yet to visit despite its tantalizing name. I make a mental note to put them all on my ‘to-do’ list, somewhere between the Kyiv breweries I need to hit up and the half dozen Ukrainian cities I still want to visit.

“Well, I guess that settles it,” I think as I walk by one of my favorite cafes, a converted London double-decker bus that I haven’t been able to visit in weeks. “I guess I’m going to have to stay in Kiev.”

Stay in Kiev _ Founders of Kyiv on Maidan

The founders of Kyiv keep an eye on things in Maidan.

Sometimes people ask me what expectations I had when I first decided to move to Kiev. And to be honest, I didn’t have any. I was following my then-boyfriend, who had work, and while I was vaguely concerned about the weather upon my arrival in February, I don’t remember having any other big expectations.

Despite a dismal March, this city snuggled its way into my heart and whispered the word “home” to me. And when my three months were up and I was on the train to Budapest, I had already made plans to move back to Kyiv to teach English in the fall.

Stay in Kiev _ In Odessa at the Potempkin Steps

The joy a film nerd feels when at the site of major (Soviet propaganda) film history.

But my return plan was always for one year only. I have a lot of world to see, and while I adore Kyiv, it’s not my forever home. And, to be honest, it hasn’t always been easy. I’m not just talking about slipping on the ice and having to wear an arm-length cast for two weeks or how the hot water tends to randomly shut off in the summer. I’m talking about teaching with depression, struggling with body issues as a result of constantly comparing myself to svelte Ukrainian women, waves of loneliness as friends continue to say goodbye and my social circle slowly shrinks.

But then suddenly, I had two months left. It was time to start planning for Life After Kyiv. My plan was to do the DELTA in Athens in October and November, then spend a long holiday at home before going… somewhere with a beach? Occasionally I’d mutter something about Vietnam when people pressed me about 2018, though that is a far stretch for me. I sent off my DELTA application but I started to fret. There was so much left to do here in Ukraine. The thought of only two more months sent me into a mild panic. And that’s when I realized—


So I’m not going to. I’m going to stay in Kiev through Christmas. And, to be honest, it was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made in an expat life that’s full of Big Decisions. I get to stay in my cozy and messy apartment that I love. I can continue to work with students and colleagues I respect. And I’ll be able to explore more of this beautiful and captivating country, including Ivano-Frankivsk, the Tunnel of Love, and getting back to Kharkiv. Not to mention all the brunches, cocktails, and cappuccinos I still have to try here in Kyiv.

There’s no perfect life, I am sure. But there are Good Decisions. And today, I think I’ve made one.

Stay in Kiev _ Exploring in Kamianets-Podilskyi

Six more months in Kyiv! Expect to see some posts here about horseback riding in the Carpathians, how to visit the Tunnel of Love, and what to do on your own trip to Ukraine. If you have any questions or anything you want to know about Ukraine, just leave me a note in the comments!

Heading to Ukraine? Check out more of my Ukraine travel tips!

And why can’t I seem to make up my mind about spelling it Kiev or Kyiv? It’s complicated. Basically, I spell it ‘Kyiv’ because that’s how the people who live there spell it and I want to respect that. I spell it ‘Kiev’ because that’s how people who don’t live there spell it and I need to show up in Google searches.

Why I've Decided to Stay in Ukraine

Thinking of moving to Kiev? Pin this post and all my articles about Ukraine to help make the move!

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7 thoughts on “Why I Decided to Stay in Kiev

  1. Katherine

    Privet Amy!! :)

    I don’t know how it took me until now to find your blog… now I have to go back and read every single post about Ukraine, haha. My husband and I lived in Kharkiv for 3 years (can’t wait to read your weekend guide about the city!) and completely loved it. I didn’t want to go either, so it’s exciting to hear that you’re staying on longer in Kyiv. I’ll have to live vicariously through your blog!

    May you have a wonderful summer with lots of blogging + minimal water shutdowns! :)

    1. Amy Post author

      Haha, funny you should mention water shutdowns… been two weeks without hot water, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed this is over soon.

      I absolutely loved Kharkiv! It’s my second favorite city in Ukraine. I remember reading up on your guys’ blog before I went last fall. I’m trying to go again now that the weather’s nice — hopefully in August or September. One thing I’m loving so much is visiting these lesser known cities and being surprised by how awesome they are. Ternopil? So cool. Ivano-Frankivsk? Heard it’s becoming hip! Kharkiv? Surprisingly green! I only wish it was easier for me to do more nature-y things, but not having a car makes it tricky.

      I’ll be happy to provide more vicarious living over the next several months! :)

  2. Katherine

    Ah, 2 weeks of cold water already? That sucks! I remember one time actually they turned the water flow off completely in the absolutely hottest part of July… I was totally losing it after 2 days, haha. Hang in there! Kharkiv is waiting for you to come back :) :) :)

    1. Amy Post author

      Oh man, I’ve only had the water shut off completely once, and it only lasted a day. Lesson learned — keep a couple gallons of water for washing in the closet, just in case! 😀

  3. CHRIS

    Hi Amy

    I was listening to the “travel like a boss podcast” the other day and I really enjoyed listening to the interview with you. You made (the) Ukraine sound very intriguing.

    I definitely want to come and explore it for myself (hopefully soon). I am well traveled (about 50+ countries) but apart from a short trip to St. Petersburg, I have never been to any other places which used to be the USSR.

    Here is a little tip for you:

    All the best


    1. Amy Post author

      Hey Chris,
      Thanks for dropping by! Ukraine is definitely a fascinating country — so diverse, from the hipster coffee shops to the gorgeous Carpathian Mountains to its ancient history. Even after a year of living here, my ‘to-do’ list is growing longer, not getting shorter! I hope you’ll get a chance to see it for yourself soon. :)

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