Ukrainians and Slovenes: so different, but so similar



It’s us again, Masha and Misha — Ukrainian ESC volunteers in No Excuse. We have been in Slovenia for half a year already and would like to share our insights on the similarities and differences between Ukrainians and Slovenes. Just to be clear, the article you’re about to read is not any kind of official, scientific report – it is totally based on our own adventures in Slovenia.


Slovenia and Ukraine have a long-standing history and a rich culture. Despite being located in different parts of Eastern Europe, we have several similarities in terms of mentality, traditions, and values.


First of all, it is worth mentioning the language. It certainly differs from Ukrainian, but as far as both are Slavic languages, they share some similarities in vocabulary and grammar. Аnd the most exciting thing is when during a conversation with a Slovenian in English, one of us forgets a word, they can say it in their native language and the other will understand! It’s always amusing!


Secondly, we share some similarities in mentality. Both of us have a strong sense of community and are known for their hospitality. We are truly touched by the support of the Slovenes we’ve met. As in Ukraine, here guests are welcomed with open arms and people have traditional family values. This is the main reason why we feel at home here.


Another factor that brings us together is deep respect for cultural heritage and making efforts to preserve these traditions for future generations. We are especially impressed by celebrating Pust in Slovenia! And also we were pleased to find out that we have a similar tradition — eating sweet pastry before the Lenten Fast. Slovenes eat their traditional “krofi”, while Ukrainians eat “blini” — thin pancakes. 


As Ukrainians, we can say that the Ukrainian mentality somehow differs from the Slovene one. Ukrainians are usually more expressive, emotional and inclined towards criticism, and skepticism, while Slovenes are more optimistic and positive. Moreover, Slovenes are more progressive and open to new ideas, while Ukrainians are more conservative. 


Another difference between us is the love for early mornings. As we have already noticed, Slovenians are early birds and even on weekends they wake up early, which can’t be said about Ukrainians. The standard working day in Ukraine starts later than here – at 9 am and ends at 5-6 pm, but on weekends Ukrainians can sleep in even until 11 am and go to bed much later than midnight.

Regarding work, Ukrainians tend to do it to the point of exhaustion, often juggling a side job alongside their main work, leaving very little time for family. In contrast, Slovenians are better at balancing work and personal life.


Slovenes have a reputation for being enthusiastic about sports, such as hiking, winter sports, and the winter season in general. During the last six months, we have discovered that this is absolutely true! In contrast, Ukrainians tend to be less active in this regard and prefer summer and beach vacations. Of course, it’s just a general tendency, but overall, Slovenes are more active and energetic than us. For example, we have never been skiing, even though there is a ski resort in Ukraine as well. By the way, we’ve already tried sledding here – sankanje na Krvavcu, to be more precise:D !


To sum up, we are both similar and different at the same time and that doesn’t make our friendship any less strong. It can be confidently said that Ukrainians and Slovenes are exactly the people who are ready to help each other in difficult times, ready to work together and to achieve common goals. 


And if we can’t be called brothers, we can definitely be called cousins!


Maša and Miša

Our ESC experience in No Excuse: beginning

Nice to meet you, No Excuse!

So here we are. In the cozy office in the center of charming Ljubljana. Hard to believe it’s been two months since we began our journey as volunteers from the European Solidarity Corps in No Excuse.

About us

We are Maria and Mykhailo, but as Ukrainians are used to, everyone shortens our names as Maša and Miša. We are a young married couple from Kyiv finding ourselves in this great adventure of life.

Miša: For the last 4 years I have lived in Greece, as I studied at the Faculty of Theology there. I have always been eager to learn something new and I’m considering the ESC volunteering as the first step towards a new life.

Maša: Last year I received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and social communication but I’m not really into it, however communication is my pleasure. In addition, my little passion is photography – I’ve been working as a freelance photographer in Ukraine for a couple of years.

Why are we here?

We have always been obsessed with traveling and have heard a lot about Slovenia and its culture but have never been here. Slovenia has the sea and the mountains – in the spring, you can go skiing in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon! You can also travel from Slovenia for a day to another neighboring country and it will take no more than one hour. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

The war that continues in our country was a huge eye-opener that taught us not to wait for a “right” time for anything – just do it now and it will be the best choice. That’s why we started to look for an ESC volunteering offer and the most desirable was to find one in Slovenia.

We are very pleased to be a part of No Excuse especially because we share the values of the organization, and we are really interested in all topics of work they do. So, it’s going to be a wonderful and productive experience!

How is it going?

Our goals for this nine months of volunteering are quite simple but fascinating! Firstly, it’s important to get more competences about sustainable development, especially the third goal of it – good health and wellbeing. Also we are eager to gain experience in the development of skills, methods and tools for working with youth and working in a team. We want to learn new things and skills and keep the knowledge with us for life, improving it.

Actually, our first impressions are positive! We are getting involved in the organization’s work, joining some creative processes, researching the field of sustainable development and improving skills in the communication area. We’ve met a lot of new people with different experiences and a lot of knowledge in topics that we are interested in, so that we are happy to work with them.

In our free time we explore Slovenia – the nature here is jaw-dropping and we are impressed with the hospitality and cheerfulness of Slovenians, therefore we feel at home and fell in love with this country!

Trying to become a little bit Slovenian and really expect the next seven months to be very enjoyable 🙂


P.S. Hope to see you somewhere around, as far as until the end of May, we will be a part of local life in Ljubljana!

Maša and Miša