The following is a quick overview to some of those services and products that students often need in the course of a semester or summer abroad. This covers everything from haircuts to pharmacies and gyms to computer repair. Students should generally expect to need to speak at least some Russian when seeking out these experiences – that’s part of study abroad!
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- 7 Things I’ve Learned from Living in Kyiv, Ukraine
- LGBTQ+: Study Abroad in Kyiv, Ukraine
1. A Practical Introduction to Kyiv
Kyiv is lively and bustling without being hectic. Music from street musicians and snippets of conversation, in Ukrainian and Russian, echo through the streets. These mingle with the smells of an incredible, diverse, and affordable array of cafes. Kyiv is a city meant to be strolled, explored, and enjoyed.
For students interested in language, identity or conflict, Kyiv is a fascinating case study. Despite the recent conflict that still simmers, Russian and Ukrainian live quite peacefully side-by-side in Kyiv. Kyiv is also a transport hub with easy access to Moldova and the Caucasus, which offer similar fascinating case studies of their own.
Like many post-Soviet spaces, Kyiv is a mix of ornate historic buildings and grey blocks. However, it’s also very green, with rolling green hills along its wide riverfront. There are lovely large parks along the Dnieper and Kyiv outskirts that have ample room for running.
Kyiv has a milder continental climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and rainy but usually do not go above 70 degrees. An umbrella and good, waterproof hiking boots or shoes will always come in handy. Winters can drop just below zero for long periods. Having a snow jacket and snow boots is recommended for January-March.
Kyiv’s long history and recent push towards Europe have given it a unique feel. Its population is diverse and generally friendly. Lost strangers shouldn’t hesitate to ask for directions, and people are generally patient and kind with foreigners. Americans are somewhat of a rarity in Kyiv, so people are often excited to meet SRAS students!
2. Eating Out
The following list is a quick list of recommendations based on SRAS’ long history in Kyiv. It is meant to supplement the broader range of reviews on this site for various Kyiv eateries.
Vegetarian/Vegan: Honey Cafe is down the road from NovaMova and offers some vegan and vegetarian options and are quite allergy friendly. ShoSho Vegan is another recommended vegan establishment. The Blue Cup is a bit pricier but has many delicious vegetarian and vegan options. Many restaurants also offer vegetarian business lunch options that may not be advertised but are available upon request. Being a vegetarian certainly won’t prevent you from finding something tasty to eat at the majority of Kyiv restaurants.
Guten Free: There are not many places that list a specific gluten free menu, but we found at least one with at Vesuvio Pizza – it’s very good and close to NovaMova. Zavod Burgers is a good burger place that offers a burger in a lettuce wrap rather than a bun. For most places you will simply need to be aware of what contains gluten and avoid it.
For the Homesick: T-Bone Prime Beef is a BBQ restaurant in Pozniaky with really good brisket and burgers that are slightly on the pricy end, but worth it. Meatbusters is another BBQ restaurant with amazing brisket that the owners apparently learned to cook from YouTube videos. It is definitely amazing.
Coffee: Aroma Kava is the most common coffee chain in Ukraine and has a location very close to NovaMova. If you want to get away from the big chains check out Vidensʹki Bulochky. Druzi Cafe is an atmospheric, cozy cafe right down the road from NovaMova.
Fast Food: You can find western fastfood standards in Kyiv, but if you want a healthier option, try MIRA Café right down the road from NovaMova. They have premade meals you can heat up at the school.
Asian Cuisine: Kytaysʹkyy Pryvit is the best Chinese food you will find in Kyiv and only a short walk from NovaMova. It is cheap and quick! Also check out HANH Café & Market if you’re looking for great Vietnamese Pho and spring rolls.
Bars: Barman Dictat is a cozy bar with nice couches, great cocktails, and live music. They are popular, so might want to call ahead to reserve a table. Pink Freud has slightly pricier cocktails, but is very good. Palata №6. This bar is themed after hospital number 6, the hospital that treated the firefighters from the Chernobyl Accident. It is known especially for its helmet experience where the bartender will put a helmet on your head and light it on fire.
Chocolate: Lviv Handmade Chocolate has all sorts of amazing desserts and their chocolate and ice cream are delicious!
Groceries: Silpo is a large supermarket with a good assortment. There is one in the Pyramid Mall in Pozniaky. ATB has the essentials and stocks some harder-to-find brands familiar to Americans. For cosmetics and personal hygiene supplies one can usually go to Kosmo. There is one located between NovaMova and Zoloti Vorota. Notebooks and stationary can be found either at supermarkets or, for a premium, at more specialty stores.
Gluten Free Groceries: If you are looking for gluten free flour, pasta, and other products I recommend checking out Ashan. It is a big grocery store almost like a Costco. They have more grocery options than the smaller Silpo.
Water/Water filters: The water in Kyiv is safe for showers, bathing, and brushing your teeth. For drinking, either filter and boil the water first or, as most locals do, stick to bottled water. Bottled water can be purchased for 30-60 UAH ($1-3) for 1.5 liters.
Rynok: Coming soon
Shopping Malls: Shopping malls are very popular in Ukraine. Globus in the center of the city has many clothing stores, a food court, and electronics stores. Across the river is brand new mall called River Mall. It has a lot of American stores such as H&M and GAP. Malls are plentiful in Kyiv, and essentially any mall will contain a grocery store and cosmetics store.
Souvenirs, Antiques, and Local Crafts: Near St. Andrew’s Church, at the top of Andriivs’kyi Descent, the long, steep road is usually lined with vendors selling all the souvenirs you could ever want. Just remember to never take the first price. Always haggle with them, they are usually flexible.
Phones and Electronics: Mobile phones, headphones, power adapters, and the like can be found at ALLO, in most major malls.
Eyeglasses and Contacts: Coming soon.
Pharmacies: Bring a supply of needed medications with you. However, if you need something, look for the bright green crosses which usually mark pharmacies. Note that most things are available over the counter, but usually known under different names and sold under different brands than you are used to. Try looking up your medication on Wikipedia and then switching languages to find out what it is called in Ukrainian or Russian.
Books: Knigarnya has books in Ukrainian, Russian, and English as well as a good selection of bilingual books and books for language learners.
Sports: Coming soon.
Arts and Crafts: Coming soon.
Cell Phone and Internet: For more on cellphone service, see our Guide to Kyiv Budgets.
Public Transport: NovaMova will provide you with a metro card if you are studying there in Kyiv. The metro is the main form of transportation and you’ll find that most places in the center are within fairly easy walking distance from a metro station. Most places can be reached by metro/walking in around 30-45 minutes. You can check out a map of the metro system here.
Google Maps is definitely your friend here. Addresses can be a bit confusing at first so we would recommend marking the location of your homestay in your favorites on Google, to always know how to get back home. Note that Kyiv also has an extensive system of underground malls, which adds to the complexity of finding addresses.
Private Transport: Only uses taxis hailed from apps. They are generally cheaper and much safer. Uber works in Kyiv.
Medical Services: Call your insurance before seeing a doctor. Often, there are certain doctors they want you to see. American Medical Center is commonly used in Kyiv by international insurance companies.
Gyms and Fitness: There are many sports clubs in Kyiv, the most popular is Sports Life with several locations all over the city. Another good option is Kolizey – it has good facilities and is geless expensive than Sports Life.
Haircuts: “Luxury haircuts” such as those at TAJ Barbershop can be closer to $20. You are more likely to find a barber that speaks English for that cost. This is about the top tier of most barbershop pricing in Kyiv, but they give a good haircut.
Computer Repair: Coming soon.
Dry Cleaners: Coming soon.
Laundry: Novomova homestays will have laundry facilities.
Manicure/pedicures: Coming soon.
Charitable Giving: If you feel like you want to volunteer your time while studying abroad, Community of Sant’egidio opens an opportunity for you to do that. They accept donations of clothing and other essentials as well.
Post: Coming soon.
5. Religious Services
- Russian Orthodox: Pechersk Lavra
- Jewish: Brodsky Synagogue
- Islam: Ar-Rahma Mosque
- Catholic: St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Cathedral
- Lutheran: German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Catherine
- Ukrainian Orthodox: St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery
- Mormon: Kyiv Ukraine Temple
- The Ukrainian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War
- St. Sophia’s Cathedral
- National Art Museum of Ukraine
- National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine
- Mezhyhirya Residence
- Holodomor Genocide Museum
- Pechersk Lavra
7. Day Trips
The SRAS programs in Kyiv do not usually include a trip to Chernobyl. However, many students have booked them independently through Chernobyl Tour. It is about $120 for a one-day tour. Another day trip would be to the Museum of Strategic Rocket Forces. This is an abandoned nuclear base in Ukraine that has left over weapons and machinery from the Cold War. There is even a simulated nuclear launch!