“Once Erasmus, always Erasmus”, they say. Have you ever wondered what Erasmus is like in Kyiv? You are in the right place! Read personal stories of our current and former Erasmus students and make that decision of coming here final!
Today we are talking with Friedemann Krannich, a bachelor’s student from Dresden, Germany. Friedemann is doing a short-term Erasmus program in Kyiv for 2 months. Here he shares his personal experience of living and studying in Ukraine after already 5 weeks spent here.

Q: Why did you choose Ukraine for your Erasmus? What did you expect of your exchange before coming to Kyiv?

A: To be honest, I didn’t have any big expectations when I arrived in Kyiv. But definitely, I'm having an interesting experience here because Ukraine is not that popular choice among Germans. However, when I asked my university professor about our university exchange opportunities, he recommended coming here. 

Q: Did you try to learn Ukrainian or Russian language? What is the weirdest word in Ukrainian or Russian, in your opinion?

Yes, I’m trying to learn Russian to manage my life in Kyiv better! I’m attending a Russian course at the Institute of Philology of KNU. We speak there, we do some grammar, but also writing and reading. I would say that I really do learn something, this course is definitely useful. I can now read words and know how to ask some basic questions. The group I’m hanging around with is also from Europe. The one interesting fact is that with learning Russian, I can understand Croatian better because they seem similar to me.

The weirdest word is “молодец” (ed.: Eng. “well done”). In the Russian course, every time we do something, and the teacher says it. And why this word sounded funny to me is because I learned Latin for some time, and in Latin, the word “malus” means something bad. So, the first time I heard it, I was like “Oh! I’ve heard something wrong, it’s why this word sounds so funny for me”.

Q: How has your experience with food been in Kyiv so far? What is your favorite Ukrainian dish?

A: The problem for me is that I’m a vegetarian and because of this I can’t try more of Ukrainian food, for example, borscht. Of course, I tried varenyky. Most of the dishes here are cooked with meat. It’s definitely a bit harder to find vegetarian food here than in Germany, for example, but it’s doable (ed. check our article on vegetarian food). Probably, my favorite Ukrainian food is kompot.

Q: Do you have a favorite place in Kyiv? What else did you visit here?

A: My favorite place is the Arch of Friendships. Also, I visited the Opera twice for ballet and one time for The Snow Queen, it was pretty cool. People in the Opera speak good English so it’s easy to buy a ticket. Opera was great and it’s a place where I’ll come back for sure.

Kyiv has many nice museums. I’ve been to the Museum of the Motherland; their people also speak enough English. The Motherland Museum was really impressive. Also, the Orthodox churches are something worth seeing because they are very different from the Catholic ones.

Q: What is the one thing that you would like to bring home from Kyiv?

A: To be honest, I will probably bring something from the Georgian restaurant. I like Georgian food so much here! But if I should choose something from Ukraine, it will probably be varenyky.

Q: What are the pros and cons of living in Kyiv for you?

A: It’s definitely cheaper than in Germany. For example, food. I visit restaurants every day, and it’s not that I’m spending too much Erasmus money here. Transport here is also cheaper, the metro is just 40 cents. It’s the same about other transport, too, so you can travel through Ukraine easily.  Clothes, on the other hand, are a little bit expensive here so I wouldn’t recommend doing a big shopping here!

The thing I don’t like is that whenever I go to the Russian course, I should use the metro because, in Dresden, the dorm is right next to my university. Kyiv is huge!

The university accommodation for international students is a little too expensive but it’s still cheaper than renting an apartment. And anyway, the 21st dorm that I live in is one of the best ones here. It’s not great but it’s one of the best ones.

Q: What are the advantages of student life in Kyiv, in your opinion? What advice would you give to those coming for Erasmus here?

A: Probably, the best tip is if you have any problem, ask people for help. Most of the people I’ve met were very kind and helpful. For me, the biggest problem was the language so definitely do try and learn some Ukrainian or Russian because it can come in handy here. Also, be prepared that the dorms here are a bit different from what you’re used to but it’s still the best accommodation for students.  

Q: What is your general impression of Ukraine? Would you recommend coming here to other Erasmus students?

A: I would totally recommend coming here, be it for a long or a short exchange, or a holiday. I think Kyiv is a cool city and also the rest of the country that I’ve seen is very beautiful and interesting. Also, I would recommend it because it’s a country Germans know not so much about. People are very friendly here and it’s cheaper than in other European countries.

Interviewer: Yelyzaveta Makedon
Photos: Friedemann Krannich's personal archive