Lviv has often been said to be a “miniature Paris,” a replica of what could arguably be the world’s cultural hub. While Lviv may not be the cultural center of Europe, the culture that thrives there speaks to the rich traditions of Eastern Europe and a unique blend of Western and Eastern society.

Staying at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and attending their summer school for Ukrainian language was enlightening in many ways. The people, food, classes, and excursions into the city and surrounding areas provided a way to experience Ukraine as a Ukrainian would want me to see it. The after-hours activities really shaped my experience in Ukraine, however. Spending time with other students from all different parts of the world—Australia, Ukraine, America, France and various other countries—and watching the Eurocup, climbing mountains, and drinking tea in the city center everyday were the experiences that showed me the kindest people, the thriving familial bonds stretching generations and continents, and, of course, let me experience the best food.

I am grateful for the Slavic department’s financial support, which helped make my summer experience possible. I went to Ukraine expecting to learn the language and perhaps get a glimpse into Ukrainian lifestyle, but instead I learned that language is so much more than simple words: it is a gateway into a culture, a family, and a friendship that will last decades and give experiences that last a lifetime.