This is an old version of the site. We have moved to Click here to read Minsk and Belarus latest news

17 Sept 2012

“People of Minsk can be very rude”

Politeness is not a very popular thing in Belarus, Olga Laryvonenka, a successful American photomodel, says. Born in Minsk she moved to the USA and first settled in Boston. Then she went to Miami and since then she enjoys there a wonderful lifestyle full of sun, sea and parties.  Now when she is in her native Minsk she shares her impressions about the both cities: Minsk and Miami.

Let’s start from you. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?  What do you do in Belarus? And what do you do in Miami?

OK. My name is Olga. I live in Miami. I am a model there. My main work there is just lay down on the beach :) . Here I am visiting my mom, because I was born here.

How do you find life in Miami? Definitely, very exciting, I am sure?

Well, life in Miami is very different from all of the US. It’s a city of parties you could say. It’s the very bright city. Always good weather. You’ll never gonna get bored there because there always will be someone calling you: “Let’s go to the beach, let’s go to the party”. There is a restaurant party here. There is Kim Kardashyan there, there is Jim Kerry there. Here is Madonna partying. So, it’s definitely very exciting.

It is very easy when you are in Miami to meet celebrities. They are just right there, without security, just walking.  They are visiting the same clubs and also there are a lot of rich people like millionaires.  Such as Thomas Kremer, a German, who has developed the whole Star Island. And Jeniffer Loper lives there, who else?  P.Diddi, Gloria Estefan lives there. Actually, I was at her house. Her husband flies on a helicopter.


The fun thing about Miami is that doors of those mansions are always open for everybody.  When they straw the party they just phoned to their friends. You have to be on a guest list, of course, but, normally, if you know someone who is already there it is easy to get in.

It’s open bar. It’s amazing. We just came to the mansion which has five levels. Every level has different kinds of food.  Like sushi, for example, on first level. Second level is for French food. Open bar and they hired dancers. Crazy stuff!

Sounds really great!

It does! That’s why I chose this city :) This life is I would say for my personality because I am bored, for example, with Boston where I lived before.  New York is better, but Boston is really pretty boring.

Compare Miami and Minsk. Both cities start with M. What they have in common and what are the differences?

They are very different.

I do not even mention climate. You said, people are very open there.

Yes, they are. As you know a lot of Miami population comes from Latin America. They have Cuban, Colombian or other background but they are all americanized. The more you go to north, to New England the more reserved people become. The more you go down the more they open.
Here I see that people are reserved and I would say, rude.

Being in Minsk for a month or so what is the main difference you started feeling from the very beginning. 

It was very gloomy weather. It was rain. And people are not that happy. For some reason. I can understand why. And they all talk about ... Even in America if you hear conversation people are normally talking about sport. They don’t really talk about work, actually, or, like, prices or crisis. They talked about sport, how they went out last night, how they went to the beach. But here people talk about crisis and prices and so on.  Very depressed. I mean I could understand why but anyway.

Yes, life can be very difficult sometimes and we shouldn’t waist so much time to discuss it.  It won’t help anyway. By the way, what was your impression about the airport?

It’s empty for some reason. I mean it’s not that bad. It’s clean. Actually, Minsk is very clean, cleaner than Miami, trust me. 6 o’clock in the morning and cleaners are on  the streets. Really great! But very few people in the airport! I guess not many planes are flying to Minsk. In comparison, in the USA airport are busy all the time, 24/7

How do you travel here? Do you drive or use public transport?

No, I do not drive here. I have only a US driving license here. I don’t think I would drive here because it’s different.  I don’t even know the signs here. It’s completely different from the United States where they says everything: Stop, Go, whatever. Here it’s just pictures which I don’t know.

Are they really difficult for you? As far as I know there must be kind of international standards for road signs.

I mean in Europe is like this. Like in Belarus. In the whole Europe it’s signs. In the US we don’t do this.  I am pretty sure that I would figure if I would have to drive. But I don’t have to drive. I live in the center. Pretty much in the center.

What do you thing about public transport in Minsk then?

The public transportation is good, I like it. In Miami public transportation is absolutely unbearable.  First, it stops on every corner. And people have to pay to the driver, actually, before they get in there. It takes too long. So, from destination A to destination B can take three hours.  For example, here it will be fifteen minutes. There it will be three hours. So, it’s impossible ... I mean everybody has a car.  I think only tourists travel by transport because they have to. Here it’s easy.  And taxis here are good too. They are cheap. Like I can take a taxi if I need to. City is clean, public transport is good.

What else do you like in Minsk?

I like the food. I think food is organic here. Not like there where everything with preservatives and staff.  It’s organic and I don’t know I just like the food here.

And it is cheap here. Really cheap. I don’t know how it is comparing with average Belarusian salaries. But comparing with America food is cheap. The difference is that there a pound that is half a kilo.  For strawberries we pay 5 dollars per pound in Miami and here they are for 3 dollars per kilo.

What are your bad impressions? What do you hate most here?

People, maybe. They don’t very polite, they do not say “Exuse me” or “Sorry” or whatever, especially in the public transport.  When somebody touches you, pushes you.

I can tell you a funny story if you want. Don’t’ know whether you would like to put it on the web.

OK, go ahead.

We were at the market. And there was a woman who was trying to stay in front of us. I said: “OK, don’t’ worry. I am not in a rush”. And there were only four people in the line. I said: “I am not going to argue with you. Just go ahead and get it. Get you line”. And she got mad at me and she wished me: “I hope you never gonna get married, ever!” She said to me that’s the Belarusian wish. I was laughing ( Olga is already married – YD).  But I told her like in a good way: “You know I am not going to argue with you”. And she thought… I don’t know what she thought

What are also strange here are neighbors. Really, they are different.  People are very noisy here.  In America people are just saying: “Hi, how are you?” and nobody is guessing in somebody’s life.  But people here are so curious and it’s so funny. They stop you and ask you constantly. Some think like:  “Do you have kids already?”

Do you reckon it’s rude?

Well, yes. If some just arrived I would ask first: “Hi, How are you?  How was your flight?” But not like :  “Do you have kids?” straight away.

Yes, but you can say “Leave me alone”.

No. I actually do not mind such questions but why they are asking them all the time?

What do you think about shopping in Minsk? I know it’s a big problem here but probably, somehow did you manage to find anything interesting for you? Do you buy anything in Minsk?

No.  I don’t think so. It’s very expensive for cheap awful stuff.  I can tell you that flip-flop in the US costs around 2 USD but here they costs about 100 000 rubles, more than 10 dollars (even after devaluation – YD).  And they are not of good quality and out of fashion. Completely. If you go in some private stores like Levi’s  you will find out that they bring them from America, so they are very expensive.  If you go to Belarusian CUM or GUM stores they are horrible.  I don’t know who buy clothes there, actually.

Have you traveled to the countryside or you normally stay in Minsk all the time?

When I was at school here, like on 5th grade I went to Mir and Nesvizh. That’s all I remember. I don’t know how they are right now. Then  it was good though.

I have to ask a professional in show business. How about night life in Minsk? Are you going out often?  Clubs, discos?

I mean clubs in Minsk and Miami is a big difference. I don’t know who wants to go to the clubs here. We go to the restaurants like where is a show or a band playing or something. I think food is not that good here and they don’t cook very well.  And the service is not good. Because as we know in Europe and America is a tip service so, of course, they try hard. Here they don’t work for the tips so they just don’t care. I like to go to my friend’s places better because they cook good. A good home meal.  But as for  the restaurants I went to  I don’t know what to tell. I tried Cuban food here – it was a disaster.  You know that restaurant “Varadero”. It was not good, I wouldn’t recommend to go there.  And I was at TGI Friday which is an American restaurant. My friend wanted to try a stake but it smelled like a dead cow. So, I’d rather go to my friends’ place and have fun and good food there :)

And also I don’t see people communicating in the places. They talk to themselves, console their own families.

Your friends, by the way, they are all form school, aren’t they? How are they? How do you communicate with them?

Facebook, normally. My friends are really cool

Do you visit Belarus often? 

Once a year. Actually, it’s my second time here for the ten years.

Is Belarus changing?

It is changing. I think when I left there was practically no places to go. Right now it is changing, developing. The Minsk city is becoming better. But the attitude of the people stays the same.  But here are a lot of good people. For example, my friends :) .

Once I asked a Holland guy who has been living here about night life. He asked what he has noticed that people here prefer to buy beer and drink it sitting on a bench or in the park. They do not go out much. And I agree with him.

I don’t think people go out so much. Especially, with their families. Which is really sad. For example, if you have a family in America it’s not an obstacle to go out with your friends. It’s normal. We get together and we just go out.  Here it’s like all about family. They think you can’t go anywhere.

Maybe, you are right. Food is cheaper here, utility bills, accommodation. 

But clothes are more expensive.

That’s reason a lot of people from Belarus goes to Lithuania, for example, or Moscow for shopping.

I don’t understand that. They go to some cities only to buy something?  But isn’t it more expensive to spend on gas? In America people are always counting called “gas money”: “If I go from place A to Place B it will cost me “gas money”.

Maybe, it is indeed cheaper for them to do this

I guess so. Are you doing this too?

Normally, yes. I buy my clothes when I am in London. 

I think most of the people here buy dress somewhere else.

What do you think about architecture of Minsk? Any interesting buildings?

It’s pretty much similar. I mean I like the old part of the city. It’s too bad that it was destroyed during the war. If it weren’t destroyed we would have the same city center as in many other European cities.  But  as for the other parts of the city?  I was amazed because they build the same building with the same structure everywhere.

What’s you favorite area in Minsk? City center, as you said?

Troitskoye predmestye. That’s my favorite.  What else? Karl Marx street.  And I actually like a restaurant there called Grunwald.  And there are a lot of green areas too like parks and stuff.

Is Miami greener than Minsk?

Miami is really flat. Here… I was amazed. I thought Minsk is flat but it’s not.  I think it’s greener here bit not many flowers like in Miami.

How do you normally spend time here?

Watching TV, going to markets, sometimes going swimming.  As for TV I watch only American TV  here: MTV, National Geographic. I like more entertaining programs like E! Entertaining and I like reality shows which is very popular in America. I don’t like watch news that much.

As a model do you do TV shows?

Yes, I have been working a lot for Latin America TV stations. Also I do some series in America.  But, mostly, I do modeling.  TV, I think, it’s more organized.

Do you visit your relatives: cousins, for example? How are they? 

They are alright. They are in their 20s, studying.

Are they different from American youth?

There is a big difference. In the USA people want to party and they want enjoy life.  From their 20s till, I would say, their 40s.  But here the main problem is that all want to get married first.  And then cook :) And clean :)  How boring!  I do not friends here who are married. They are boring. Only one girls. But she is not married, she just got a child.

When you’ll be back to Miami will you miss anything about Minsk?

I will miss my mom. And good food. Made by my mom :).


  1. Sys Visas consultant provide consultancy for visit and student visas and scholarships program for Belarus, China, Canada and Australia, and also we deal in Visa refusals and Appeal cases.
    belarus scholarships for international students

  2. If you want to celebrate some really wonderful moments with your partner, you should choose a place that is cozy and romantic. phoenix pizza restaurant

  3. The employing office will be in charge of any expenses related with any of the parts of the background check process. (Schools or central command may choose to subsidize the cost of related expenses.)background check best services