Going to Ukraine and not seeing Big Mama is something you’ll regret; she’s hard to miss, holds tons of history and is landmark everyone visiting this country should take time to visit.
Ukraine is a highlight of Eastern Europe and with all the golden domed cathedrals and fabulous food there, it should be on your bucket list. With so much to do in Ukraine and so many cities like Budapest and Prague nearby to vacation in, spending a semester abroad here wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. Those who volunteer in Ukraine with ILP love what this country has to offer, and they all say you can’t visit Ukraine and not see Big Mama. Kerry H. has volunteered with ILP in Ukraine 3 times (!) and this statue is one of her favorite places to take people when they visit.
What is it?
So, technically the statue isn’t officially named Big Mama, but the Rodina Mat is affectionately called the Motherland Statue and commemorates some of Ukraine’s most pivotal points of history. Quinn B. was an ILP volunteer living in Ukraine and recommends “going at the end of the semester after you’ve fallen in love with Ukraine and her people, because it will mean that much for to you.”
Big Mama is in a lush, green area of Kiev near the Dneiper River. You can usually see it on your drive to your school, from the airport, or from the metro around the city, but is worth a day trip. Kerry suggests taking a day trip to see Big Mama and the Kyiv Pechaersk Lavra, a gorgeous Christian Orthodox Monastery in the same afternoon.
Why Should You Go?
Ukraine’s history has been difficult at times; Quinn and Kerry talk about their own visits to the the museum underneath the statue. A well-put together museum for the Great Patriotic War (we know it as World War II) is under Big Mama and is very representative of Ukrainian culture. Quinn suggests taking your school's local coordinator to give more insight to some of the artifacts and displays you see there; Remember, ‘Ukraine’s experience [in WWII] was not a pleasant one, so keep that in mind but it is definitely one of the best museums I’ve ever been to!”.
How Do You Get There?
Kerry gives some pointers on how to best spend your day near the Dneiper River. Head to the Arsenalna Metro stop (which is one of Ukraine’s deepest stops!) and grab lunch at one of the food vendors as you exit- get your fill of shawarma and ice cream before walking left until you see a piano full of plants. The parking lot over to the bridge gives you a gorgeous view of the river and Kiev. Walk from the bridge through a park that holds the Eternal Flame and the Holodomor monument; this reverent monument commemorates a government created famine in the 1930’s, so be respectful. You will walk past the Lavra (take the time to go inside the 11th century monastery) and you’ll see the Rodina Mat!
Need more things to do while in Ukraine? Or curious to know what a day is like when volunteering here with ILP? International Language Programs sends volunteers to teach English part time in 8 different countries, including Ukraine! You’ll have plenty of time to make a difference, see this country and visit nearby cities during your semester abroad. Click the button below to learn more!