Odessa has been described as “Ukraine’s Most Mediterranean City”, despite the fact that it actually borders the Black Sea. However, as this nickname suggests, modern-day Odessa is arguably more like a European seaside city than a former Soviet outpost. As one of the busiest ports in world, Odessa is no stranger to expatriates, and it is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Near East. Its sandy beaches attract hoards of holiday makers every summer, and within Ukraine, Odessa has a bit of a reputation as a party town. During the holidays, young people from Ukraine, Russia and Eastern Europe flock here to party at the city’s numerous nightclubs. Expats living in Odessa will soon learn to avoid the noisier parts of town and make the most of its cultural charms. The National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet, for example, is the most famous edifice in Odessa, and hosts some incredible performances. Share your experiences of life in Odessa with other expatriates on the InterNations discussion boards and forums and get a few tips from other expats living in Odessa or other Ukrainian cities on what to expect from living in Ukraine.
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Before relocating to Odessa, try to avoid the temptation of watching Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 film ‘The Battleship Potemkin’. The Odessa Steps sequence has gone down in history as one of the most innovative early pieces of filmmaking, but it does not present the city in the kindest light. Eisenstein’s Odessa is the scene of tragedy, grief and murder, but in fact the massacre depicted in the film never took place. Of course, Ukraine has seen more than its fair share of bloodshed over the years, but 21st century Odessa has experienced relative peace and does not deserve its ‘Battleship Potemkin’ reputation. Having said this, a visit to the 142-meter-long Odessa Steps (now called the Potemkin Stairs), is an absolute necessity for every visitor or expatriate moving to Odessa.
Before moving to Odessa, read up on any changing employment or travel laws into Ukraine. It is also important to stay on top of current events in Ukraine – as with any young country, changes in governance are to be expected and may have an impact on expats working in Odessa or other Ukrainian cities. The majority of Odessa residents speak Ukrainian, and it is highly advisable to learn a few key phrases of the local language before entering the workplace. Due to its close links with Russia, there is a substantial Russian-speaking population in Odessa, too, while most European languages are spoken in expat communities in the city. For tips on how to pick up a new language quickly, speak to other expats in the InterNations forums, and share your experiences with would-be expatriates in Odessa on our discussion boards.