Hello! Libby here!
One of the greatest things about Luther is that we have Luther students and Alumni in every part of the world. I was able to visit a Luther alum in Kyiv, Ukraine the week after spring break. Since there is a lot of political history, Soviet Rule and more recently Euromaidan, so just prior to going to Ukraine I watched a documentary about the revolution that happened in Kyiv just a few years back. This revolution was fought against the government and the corrupt Prime Minister at the time, if you have two hours, the documentary is on Netflix called Winter on Fire. It’s a great documentary that was done well, and worth the watch.
I arrived at the Kyiv Airport at about 3 in the morning Ukraine time and then took an Uber to the B&B that I was going to be staying at. I got a couple hour of much needed sleep and then Betsy and I headed off to explore the city!
Betsy took me on a great tour of the city and we say so many great things, so I will talk about a few of my favorites! We walked through a couple little art playgrounds and then to a couple of the Churches in the area. The majority of the churches there were Easter Orthodox and quite beautiful. We got to visit St. Michael Golden Domed Monastery, the church that played a large role in the Revolution and was used as sanctuary for the revolutionaries. We also got to see the Maidan, which is the place where the revolution began in 2013. Betsy also took me to see a couple Soviet Statues such as the Motherland Statue. It was built during the soviet era, but survived past the decommunization of Kyiv.
Our next day we went to visit the home of Ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. He was the president that the people of Ukraine rebelled against in the 2013 revolution. His home, about a 25 minute drive from the city center, was a lavish mansion that included a personal golf course, a zoo, a couple lakes, a personal helipad for his helicopter, a large home, and acres upon acres of land. It was a beautiful area, but it has a dirty background. Up until recently, the places did not show up on google maps because it was kept secret from the people. We spent a majority of our day there, and then headed back into town to visit the tunnels of the Lavra, which is where many of the Eastern Orthodox’s religious leaders are buried. Since it was underground, we had to use candles to see underground. After walking around the Lavra a while, we went to a local restaurant to have a traditional Ukrainian Meal. We ordered a little bit of everything (including a chicken kiev, one of my favorites as a kid). The food was delicious and left me feeling very full! And unfortunately that pushed us towards the end of out adventure. We started walking towards the train station where I was leaving from to head to the airport, stopped at a candy shop along the way, said goodbye, and I was on my way back to the airport for my flight back to London.
I had a wonderful time in Kyiv and it was great to have someone show me around the area. Plus it was nice to have someone who spoke the local language. This was a great trip, especially as someone who studies political science. And for any Luther student who is in Europe over the next year, reach out to Betsy! You are sure to have an amazing time!