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5 Souvenirs I'm Glad I Bought in Eastern Europe!

Posted by Lindsay Hall on 6/4/15 10:00 AM

ILP Ukraine

Save yourself some money and stick with buying these five souvenirs the next time you're volunteering in Eastern Europe! 

Ever make the mistake of buying souvenirs that you regret? Maybe it was something that you actually could live without. Maybe it was something that you can actually buy all over the world and isn't unique to Europe. Not great, right? 

Maybe you need to get yourself to Europe in the first place?

ILP is here to  help you overcome obstacles so you can hop on a plane and do some shopping in Europe.

No matter where you are set to spend a semester volunteering in Europe (after all, ILP has schools all over Europe), be sure to pick out the best souvenirs!  Take a look at this list that ILP volunteers love and pick out which ones you will just have to bring home: 

  • Matryoshka Dolls
  • Homemade Embroideries
  • Chocolate
  • Painted Eggs + Lacquer Boxes
  • Pictures

Matryoshka Dolls

Matryoshka dolls are everywhere around Eastern Europe and come in just about every character imaginable. These are those classic nesting dolls you may have seen before — these big dolls are hiding 5 or more little dolls inside, all painted with an intricate pattern and personality.

You can chose between the beautiful traditional and hand-painted dolls  or  funny dolls from your favorite TV show. Seriously, these dolls come in every shape and pretty much every character imaginable from Harry Potter, Star Wars, various forms of Santa Clause in the winter time, current and past presidents, etc. 

Most volunteers pick up at least one and love seeing it displayed back at home — remember: some souvenirs are a rad way to decorate your dorm room and these dolls in particular make a great souvenir to display at home.

You will find them all over Eastern Europe in souvenir markets, so it won't be hard to stumble on some you like. 


Homemade Embroideries

Handsewn embroideries are all over and don't disappoint. Grab a hand embroidered shirt, scarf, towel, throw, blanket, tablecloth, napkin set, skirt, dress, and more! 

You'll typically find the more authentic versions of embroidered clothes at little pop-up markets around town. Especially when the weather is warmer (the spring, summer, and beginning of fall), you'll find markets popping up all over your little city where you can typically find embroidered clothing. 

If you're lucky enough to volunteer in Ukraine for a semester, you'll find huge walls of embroidery to take pictures in front of!

ILP Europe


If you have never been to Europe, you've probably heard the tales of how they have the best chocolate ever. Let me tell you, it is true. Your family will love you if you bring some European chocolate home for them!

You will find tons of chocolate brands and flavor combinations you don't recognize from home. You might be able to find things like Snickers on your semester, but we highly, highly suggest eating the local European chocolate instead of things like Dove or Lindt. 

One of the biggest perks of living somewhere for an entire semester is the fact that you can peek around at local grocery stores to find which brands and flavors you like the best. One ILP group watched the sales and when their favorite chocolate went on a discount, they bought the entire supply. We're big fans of the chocolate you'll find on your semester abroad. 

Looking for ones to bring home? Here are some of our favorite chocolately treats

For those in Lithuania, be sure to eat these treats all semester long...and maybe pack some home for friends and family if you feel like sharing. 

ILP Ukraine

Painted Eggs

These may seem a little strange, but these hand painted eggs can be absolutely gorgeous. They are most commonly found in Ukraine and are a very unique souvenir that not many people will have. Another common souvenir, you'll find these at most souvenir markets.

Another things we love are lacquer boxes and bowls. Similar to the painted eggs, these gorgeous works of art make an iconic souvenir that will remind you of your time in Eastern Europe. 

Head's up — you might have trouble packing up eggs that are this big ... don't worry, you can get them in all sizes around town. 


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Last, but definitely not least...pictures! Pictures are the best souvenirs you will ever bring home.  While you will probably be shooting about a zillion pictures on your phone and on your camera, don't forget to print out some pictures when you get home, or shoot a few favorites on a polaroid.

You'll be reminded so much more often if you have a few of your favorites printed out and hung up in your room to remind you of your semester, rather than just keeping hundreds of photos on an album on your phone or computer. 

We're big fans of creating a collage wall of your memories: hang up some pictures along with any train or ballet tickets (and the wrappers of your favorite chocolate bar) in a cute and colorful collage to remind you of your semester!

ILP Russia

Ready to really see Europe? 

Click below and start your application so you can snag a spot in Europe and get these souvenirs for yourself. 

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Topics: Travel Tips, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Romania

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

ILP Semester Abroad

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