Attorneys at law “Bachynskyy and partners” provide legal assistance and consulting to foreigners from almost 85 countries of the world. Lawyers do not only provide their service professionally, but are interested in the lives of their clients, as well. Because they can tell a lot about their countries and its inhabitants – their traditions, rules of business, politics and laws. In addition, it’s always interesting to find out why successful businessmen and employees from other areas move to work and live to Ukraine. That’s why AL “Bachynskyy and partners” decided to create a video blog “Expats in LVIV blog” and to communicate on these topics with guests of our city from other countries.
The third guest of our blog is an Australian programmer Brody McKee. He has come to Ukraine to work and to change the environment he used to live in. He even has made a private life here. Iryna Shumska, the Head of Immigration Law Practice at Attorneys at law ‘Bachynskyy & partners’, has a conversation with him and found out his first impression from Lviv, about difficulties he faced in the perception of Ukrainian culture and customs. Also, it was interesting to hear his opinion on the changing what is needed in the bureaucratic system of our country.
I.S.: I believe you will agree that the number of foreigners who come to Lviv is constantly growing and they stay here for quite a while or even for good. Each of them has their reasons to stay. For instance, it can be a business matter or other personal reasons. No doubt, Lviv is becoming more investment attractive. Well-known companies open their offices here, a lot of international conferences and meetings often take place in our city and tourist are lured into Lviv by its architecture and festivals.
Today, we, Attorney at law “Bachynskyy and partners”, are pleased to welcome our longstanding client, Brody McKee who has arrived in Ukraine from Australia. In L’viv Brody is the lead software engineer at the IT Company “TechMagic”.
I.S.: Hi, Brody. It is nice to see you!
B.M.: Nice to see you as well!
I.S.: I think everyone would like to know why foreigners choose Ukraine? What kind of difficulties do they face in Ukraine? I would be very grateful if you helped us answer these questions.
B.M.: So, firstly, I think, a lot of foreigners are very interested in visiting a place like Ukraine, because it is Europe, especially L’viv. It is still a very beautiful European city. It is also culturally more different than a lot of other European countries, such as The UK, Germany. Those countries are far closer to home. So, it is somewhat an adventure, because it is something new and different.
On top of that, obviously, Ukraine has great food, lots of interesting beautiful places to see, a really nice nature. I think, for a western tourist it is also quite affordable.
As someone who moved here – I moved to Ukraine mostly for an adventure – trying something very different, learning a new language, being in the environment that is far more different from that I am used to.
I.S.: How long have you been in Ukraine?
B.M.: I’ve been in Ukraine now since May 2017. So, it is about a year and a half.
I.S.: Can you recall your first impression of Ukraine in general and L’viv in particular?
B.M.: So, my first impression of Ukraine was that it is very similar to home in some ways, and very different in other ways. Immediately you see architecture, the way people are talking and interact with each other – which are very different -, but at the same time, you see brands, food, and things like that, you know from home, for example, McDonald’s. It is both familiar and different.
Culturally, like a lot of westerners, I find it a little bit hard initially to understand that you should not walk around smiling at everybody in the street, because it can be seen as something an insane person would do. But then you also quickly learn that if someone does not smile at you, it does not mean they don’t like you. It is a normal thing to do.
I think, also, little things can be challenging sometimes. Like, it is not cultural here to hand someone cash when you are buying something. You should put it down on the table, whereas in my country that would be considered rude.
So, there are lots of things that can be challenging to begin with, but then you just get used to them. On the other side, there are some really great things here. I think, it is fun for me to watch how families interact in Ukraine. Families are a lot closer than in our culture.
You know, sometimes my colleagues will get called from their mothers during the day at work, which is a very foreign idea for me. I also really enjoy the difference in food and drink.
I.S.: Actually, we can say that Ukraine is your second home now, right? What do you like the most about Ukraine?
B.M.: Personally, I love the food. There really is some good food here! I love the culture of Ukraine and particularly, L’viv. L’viv has a lot of really beautiful, interesting buildings to see and great events happening all the time. It is the city where you always feel there is something to do and something to see.
Ukraine as a country is exciting, because it’s growing quickly economically and in terms of IT sector. So, for me, it is cool to see a lot of IT companies popping up. A lot of really interesting things are happening here.
There are a lot of really interesting people who are really passionate about their work. They really want to change the industry, and in a way, change the country.
I.S.: You know sometimes in Ukraine it takes a while to overcome all bureaucratic obstacles in order to get some certificates or permits. How does it look like in your native country?
B.M.: Yes, there is a lot more bureaucracy here. It is a lot more challenging, because in Australia things are very well documented in English, so I can read them, obviously, as well. It is a little bit easier to find the information you need; it is a little bit easier to get the help you need.
I think the government is generally quite helpful to businesses in term of trying to lay things out and make sure that people understand what they should do.
I think, in Ukraine this stuff is a little bit harder to find. Which is, I think, why it is important to get legal advice on these sort of things. It is really hard to work this stuff out by yourself. Even if you speak Ukrainian, it is a challenge to understand what you can and can’t do, in terms of permits and other things.
I.S.: In your opinion what should be changed in the first place in Ukraine?
B.M.: For me, in terms of, like, permits and business, and this sort of stuff, I think, I would like to see Ukraine doing more to help small businesses. Maybe, the government could invest more money into building websites and servers that provide information to help people to jump over these hurdles. So, instead of people having to try to read through the legislation, they have someone they can go and ask.
You know, some government advisers, who can say to them : Hey, look, this organization here is to help small businesses grow and prosper, – and to get through this red tape. I think, that would really help, because from my experience, a lot of businesses in Ukraine suffer from this.
I.S.: What piece of advice would you like to give to foreigners who come to reside in Ukraine on a permanent basis?
B.M.: Firstly, if you have never been to Ukraine before, or other countries of the former Soviet Union, there are some cultural things they need to be aware of. Like I said, sometimes some things might seem, kind of, challenging to begin with, but mostly you will get used to it pretty quickly.
Most of the things that first strike you as shocking, like, maybe, people don’t seem as friendly when you walk past them in the street, but you quickly understand that it is not necessarily that way at all. Do not judge a book by its cover, as we would say in English. Give yourself some time to understand what’s really happening, learn the culture.
I think learning Ukrainian is really important. I have been studying Ukrainian for a while now. I am not very good at studying Ukrainian, because I am very busy with work often, but I take classes and it helps a lot. Even just knowing how to say numbers, food etc., is very useful, because in the center it is not hard to find English-speaking people, but outside of the center of big cities you can run into many people who do not speak English. It is something that you definitely should focus on if you are a foreigner coming to Ukraine.
I.S.: Finally, why did you choose our firm?
B.M.: I looked around. I got some advice from some friends and colleagues. I also read reviews online as well. This firm comes up very strong across everyone and everything that I saw.
I.S.: Will you recommend us to your friends?
B.M.: Yes, definitely! I actually really have recommended you to my friend.
B.M.: Yes, I have! I will definitely recommend you to my friends.
I.S.: Thank you for our conversation and for your trust! It is a big pleasure to work with you!
B.M.: It has been really helpful to work with you as well! I couldn’t have done any of this without your help.
I.S.: Thank you!