Mrs Biljana Zdrale is the wife of Milomir Zdrale, sales director of the Bavaria Woltex Ukrayina, a branch of the Bavaria Woltex Company, (Munich, Germany) in Ukraine. Once, she phoned the office of Welcome to Ukraine Magazine to say “Thank you.” In the interview she has given to Olexandr Horobets, editor in chief of Welcome to Ukraine, Mrs Zdrale has explained:
Zdrale: You see, to a large extent, I’m here now, in Ukraine, thanks to your magazine, Welcome to Ukraine. When over a year ago, my husband and I were offered to go to work in Ukraine, I wanted to find out something about your country of which I knew very little. So, I asked someone to find some good magazines, published in Ukraine. I think looking through such magazines is the best way of learning a lot about a country you want to visit or live in for some time. You can get the spirit, so to say, of the country, its intellectual potential. Among the magazines brought to me, I found several issues of Welcome to Ukraine. I looked them through, read articles, and said to my husband: “All right, let’s go.” He was surprised I had arrived at this decision so fast. I explained I was fascinated with what I saw in Welcome to Ukraine. It’s an excellently printed magazine, interesting articles, beautiful pictures and photographs. And bingo – here we are, in Ukraine!
Horobets: How long have you been staying in Ukraine?
Zdrale: A whole year now.
Horobets: It’s long enough to come to know the country well. Have you been disappointed?
Zdrale: No, absolutely not! I can tell you this. I’m a psychologist and I know for a fact that it’s those who are dissatisfied with themselves get disappointed. We’ve lived in several countries and so we’ve had enough experience of living abroad. I love it here. We used to live in Germany, for example, and I can tell you I would not be able to stay there for long. Kyiv is a very beautiful place, with wide streets, excellent parks. And very clean too. I was impressed with it on my very first day here. A lot of beautiful people, especially women. Easy to socialize with. It’s something that you can’t help noticing right away.
Horobets: What about men?
Zdrale: Men? (laughs). Oh, probably men are all right too, but you see, I have my husband and I don’t care to look at any other men. In general, men here seem to be clever and nice but still less attractive than women.
Horobets: Have you been to any other towns of Ukraine?
Zdrale: Yes, we’ve been to Yalta in the Crimea, a very nice place too, but it’s a place just to visit. Kyiv is special, it’s nice to live in it. I was told there’ve been a lot of changes in the past ten years. From what I see around these changes must have been very positive. The country appears to be developing fast.
Horobets: What about your everyday life here? Any problems? With buying food, for example?
Zdrale: Oh, no problems at all with that. There’s enough in supermarkets of everything but I prefer to buy things at a peasant market. The quality is excellent and prices are low. Sour cream, eggs, lard, for example, are priced ridiculously low, you can’t find such low prices anywhere else. I wonder why people care to buy imported food products at all! Local things are much better. Well, yes, there are certain products that are not grown in Ukraine, or grown but little, then, naturally you have to pay higher prices, in some cases, unreasonably high, I’d say. We have meals at restaurants too, some of the restaurants are very good, but unfortunately the prices are too high. I don’t care for American-type restaurants. I like those that serve food of Ukrainian cuisine. It’s so much better!
Horobets: During the year that you’ve lived here you’ve probably seen enough to pass a judgement on cultural life. Do you find Ukraine to be a sort of a European province?
Zdrale: First of all, I do not think it’s right to speak of one cultural centre in Europe. Each country has its own culture and within each country there’s its own cultural centre. From what I’ve seen and learnt you’ve got enough culture to consider yourself a major European cultural centre.
Horobets: Are you a theatregoer?
Zdrale: I love theatre, concerts but unfortunately I don’t get to go to see them often enough. But I’ve got my favourites already. My husband and I, we often go to see exhibitions, particularly the ones that are shown in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery. For some time we lived in an apartment that was decorated by a Ukrainian painter… Oh, I’m so sorry I can’t remember his name! When I remember I’ll call and tell you. All the walls were hung up with his paintings. All those who came to see us, were so impressed. They said they had never seen anything like it.
Horobets: All that you say is very nice to hear. But is there anything that you have found you don’t like here?
Zdrale: Well, yes, there are certain things that I think need improvement, like parking lots, for example. Also, I think in Ukraine you have a problem with drinking. People seem to drink too much. It’s particularly bad if it involves young people. It’s a bit worrying that people consume so much alcohol with so little regard for their health or job responsibilities.
Horobets: Thank you for your comments and for your appreciation of our magazine.
Zdrale: Thank you, too. And keep on publishing it! I’m sure there must be a lot of people who’ve come to learn a lot about Ukraine thanks to your magazine.