August 20, 2017

Communication

Although itís not on par with the West, communication in Ukraine has been greatly affected by the technological revolution. Many people use cell phones (called mobile phones or mobilka locally) and almost everyone under 30 checks email and social networking site regularly. The missionary and UEC communities rely heavily on email. For most Ukrainians, though, the telephone is still the best way to communicate.

Email and internet
E-mail and Internet access are available in Kyiv through several service providers and Internet cafes. An hour of internet usage at an Internet cafe is around $1 or less an hour. At these cafes, you can also pay for use of the printer. Even though dialup connection is still widely used in rural areas, most Kyivites and other city dwellers have broadband Internet in their homes - in some cases a special modem or touter has to be purchased or rented to connect to internet. Usually you would pay around $10 a month for a fairly good amount of traffic, though this amount can change depending on your needs. If you are bringing a laptop and just need Internet occassionally, you can use of the free WIFI hotspots offered by many cafes and restaurants in Kyiv, especially in downtown area - they are marked by special "WIFI-zone" signs.

If you are in a rural area and have to use dialup, the connection can be rather slow and may break entirely at times, which is one reason to avoid a web-only email account. In Internet cafes, though, the connection is more reliable and normally faster. This slowness can be very frustrating at first. Donít expect to download large files or huge pictures. The Ukrainian Education Center offers free Internet in our computer center as well as WIFI access to its guests.

Telephone
If you want to call outside Ukraine, it's best to buy a prepaid calling card. Two popular cards are ALLO and Extreme. It costs about $0.40 a minute to call the US. Calling the US through regular phone lines is about $0.35 a minute. Sometimes, though, there is a bad echo or you may lose the connection. It is best, and cheapest, for people to call you from the US. To Kyiv from the U.S. dial 011-380-44, and then the seven-digit number of the person you want to call. To call the UEC for instance, you would dial: 011-38-044-490-7618. To call from Kyiv to the USA, dial 8 then wait for a dial tone. Follow that by the country code, area code and phone number. To call Lipscomb University for example, dial 8 (wait) 101-615-269-1000. You can dial 1-800 numbers but the cost to you is the same. Skype can be used to call 1-800 numbers in the US free of charge. After October 14, 2009 "8" will no longer be used as an access number for long-distance - it will be replaced by "0", which was already part of the area code anyway. So dial long-distance in Ukraine from landline, you will need to dial "0" followed by the 2-4 digit area code (without "0") and then the number you are trying to reach. For international access, you would have to dial "0-0" before the country code and the number, just like in most European countries.

Depending on the apartment you rent or stay in, you may be charged per minute of talk time even for local calls. Internet surfing is also considered talk time. The fee is about 5 kopecks ($0.005) per minute. More and more people now just get cell phones. If you bring your cell phone from home, your provider might not let you use a different SIM card - so you will have to purchase a very basic (though good) phone for about $40-50. Unlike in the US and many other countires, in Ukraine you can just purchase a SIM-card for your phone and start using a cell phone in minutes. Most phone providers offer free or virtually free minutes in their network, so you might want to find out what operator the majority of your contacts in Ukraine are using. There is also an option of getting a plan to call all numbers in Ukraine at a fixed rate - the lowest good quality provider Life currently charges $0.05 per minute. You can also check MTS or Kyivstar - who offer best quality connection, but charge a bit more.

ďSnailĒ Mail/Post Office
It is rather expensive to mail items to Ukraine from the USA. A cheaper option for mailing printed material (books, magazines, etc.) is to ship the items via M-bags (now sent by air-mail) available from the U.S. Postal Service. For more info on M-bags visit the U.S. Postal service website here. To protect your items from damage, pack them in a cardboard box and tape the box before placing them in the M-bag. A maximum of 66 pounds can be shipped in an M-bag; the post office charges $1 per pound. On the customs form, declare that the items are gifts and have a value under $50. Otherwise, a large customs fee in Ukraine will be imposed.

Most airlines allow you to check an extra bag (50 pounds) for a fee of a little more than $100. Call your airline to find out exact details. FedEx, DHL, and UPS all work in Ukraine but are very expensive.

The Ukrainian mail system is becoming more reliable. A letter (about the same cost as international mail from the USA) from Ukraine usually takes about 10-14 days to reach the USA, and sometimes letters from the States arrive in about a week. Packages including videos sent by normal USPS airmail usually arrive intact though we recommend you never send anything very valuable through regular mail. At some post offices there may be problems with theft, so try one package before sending others. Itís also best if the person can address the envelope in both Russian or Ukrainian and English. If you get a package, the post office usually sends you a small note indicating the weight of the package and the date it arrived. Normally, you will need to present your passport to get the package from the post office.

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