I’m in Kiev, Ukraine now – and it’s drastically different than Poland.
Not just from a modern infrastructure perspective, but from the way that *I* am treated in this country versus Poland.
My “dark” skin — which is a sort of brownish-yellow. While I’m actually half Asian, half white, here in Ukraine they just don’t seem to like dark skin in general.
Because Turkish men have a very bad reputation here. And anyone who resembles a shade darker than cocaine seems to automatically be classified as a Turk.
It means I’m not treated as kindly or warmly in restaurants, or the grocery store.
It means that guys give me funny looks sometime.
It means that girls both during the day and at night are not as receptive to me. It’s still doable, but I have to clear that hurdle.
It means I don’t get as many matches on Tinder – because let’s face it, everyone is shallow.
Shallow + slightly racist = bad news for me.
Overall, it means that life is just not as easy for me as it was in Poland. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still doing fine. I’m obviously not starving to death, I’ve got plenty of dates, and I’ve made some friends.
However, it’s drastically different than in Poland where I was “shiny”, so to speak. Where people would come up to me and ask where I was from. Where a girl once stopped me on the street to ask me my ethnicity. Where sometimes, people stare at me.
It was almost like being a celebrity at times.
It’s all gone, to be replaced by looks of disdain.
Which leads me to this.
THE COUNTRY CHEMISTRY
I was talking with my friend last night, who has extensive travel experience around the entire world.
He doesn’t like Poland at all.
But he loves Ukraine. He loves Moscow. He loves the FSU as a whole.
He just “clicks” with those countries. I know we usually reserve the world “chemistry” for talking about people, but it absolutely holds true for traveling as well.
There are always going to be countries you get along well with, and countries that you just don’t seem to be able to crack no matter how hard you try.
Often times, you will have less control of this outcome you think. Much how sometimes you think a girl is fantastic at first, but you just don’t mesh well together, sometimes travel is the same thing. There will be countries that you just don’t go well with.
I’ve had far worse country chemistry than Ukraine (I’m looking at you, Spain), but as of now Ukraine is sliding more towards that end of the spectrum versus being a place I could see myself falling in love with.
I’ve got a few more weeks in the capital city, Kiev. I will continue to give the place an honest-to-God chance to win me over. And in some ways, it has. It’s a quirky place. It’s exciting. It has a good energy.
Sadly, that energy sometimes feels to me like a black hole of hatred towards me.
And there’s little I can do to change that.
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