Max from Ukraine has found love, but he's still searching for his Shanghai

Although Max from Ukraine has only been here for a year, he has experienced lots, including meeting an old friend by chance and finding a girlfriend. 

Holin’s words:

When Angie, Max’s girlfriend, was shooting a video for her future self, saying that she really wanted to marry the guy who looked like Ryan Gosling, Max was standing just behind the camera.

At that time I was also standing there, just beside Max, so I couldn't catch his facial expression. But I reckon he would have kept cool and calm.

One thing is for sure, though: this moment will be an important memory in their hearts, and I'm so happy I was there to help them record it.

Max initially came to Shanghai Daily's office with Angie to make a guest appearance in one of our Guide Battle videos. After that, they decided to interview separately. 

If you want to watch the couple working together and their interactions, click HERE.

Max from Ukraine has found love, but he's still searching for his Shanghai
Holin Wang / SHINE

Name: Maxim Ivanchenko

Nationality: Ukraine

Job: Purchase Manager

Year in Shanghai: 1

Holin: Do you have some interesting stories that took place in Shanghai?

Max: One of the stories is, there is only one Muslim takeaway store. I’m not Muslim, but people there never speak any English. They probably don’t know English. I’d been going there at that point for a couple of months already.

Then the other day I heard someone calling my name, like ‘Max, Max, Max!’, and I was really confused because no one there speaks English, and no one there knew my name. And I looked around, and I see this Chinese girl calling my name and looking at me. So, I said ‘Hi’ and she asked, ‘Do you remember me?’ and I said, ‘Of course!’, but I didn’t remember.

So, she told me she remembered me from when I was doing French classes in France, and she told me she was a really good friend of one of my classmates.

Why is this story interesting for me? It’s because the world can sometimes be a little bit tiny, and you can meet, in such a huge city as Shanghai, somebody who you have met before.

Holin: Wow! So how do you spend your weekends in Shanghai? 

Max: Since I’ve been living in Shanghai for only a year now, I’m still finding the best ways to spend my weekends here. I would say it’s a combination of some sports and active leisure, coupled with spending the evenings with friends and people you want to be with. I just recently started playing football with my friends, so we play on Sundays in the evening. I want to try to play some tennis — that would be nice. And hanging out with friends in the evenings, sometimes for drinks! 

Holin: Which place in Shanghai do you like best, and why?

Max: In Shanghai I like sometimes those little quiet streets with lots of trees — maybe in the former French Concession and that kind of place. They make me feel really comfortable and at home. When it comes to going out, well I don’t really want to give any free advertisements for any businesses in particular! 

Holin: Fair enough! Which road do you like best? 

Max: Wuding Road is alive, very alive, cosmopolitan, nice atmosphere; people are friendly. People like to chill there, and it’s a good place to spend your evening. 

Holin: What do you love about Shanghai?

Max: I’m still finding my Shanghai. I’m still discovering the places which I like, but what I like about this city is that there are a lot of people from very different countries and very different backgrounds, so this can be quite interesting. And for me, I would say, it makes this place more interesting.

Also, I like that sometimes Chinese people in Shanghai become more interested in other cultures and countries, which is very good. I appreciate that. I like to learn about other cultures, and I like history, so for me, when I meet someone from a different culture, I always tend to ask something about where they come from.

Holin: And what do you dislike about Shanghai?

Max: What I don’t like about Shanghai is the pollution, but after living here for a year, it’s not the worst part of it. The city is quite densely populated, and since it’s quite capital driven, people just tend to be very much in their own world and their own bubble, and they don’t really notice other people around them. I wouldn’t say they are aggressive, but maybe a bit careless, or inconsiderate.

So, for me, China needs to work a bit more on developing a civil society in their culture. For example, you see a person just lying on the street, and no one would even come to ask if they need help.

Holin: Compared to your country, is there anything lacking in Shanghai? 

Max: So much difference that even I cannot compare. What I could say is that, you know, in my country we have a lot more parks and green areas. You can go to a park at any time in the day and you can walk on the grass and sit on the benches, if you want to enjoy nature. But in Shanghai you cannot do that, for example sometimes if you go to a park you can’t even stay on the grass. Some areas are restricted, so you cannot walk, like on the grass. In my country we very rarely have this, in most places you can just sit down and spend your time. 

Holin: Any impressive memory during your life?

Max: I’ll tell you a recent story from when I went with my girlfriend to Sanya.

On the second or third day, we met a shaokao laoban (an owner of a barbecue store) — well, he just started talking with Angie and saying she speaks good Chinese, and also he was speaking Cantonese, so they could communicate.

Then he was looking for somebody to translate his menu into Russian, and he asked if we could help with it so she put it on me, because I’m Ukrainian but I’m a native Russian speaker, so I kindly agreed to translate his menu for him. It wasn’t a very difficult job, but we helped him with it and we did maybe a bit extra on top of that, just to make it look nice and more adaptable towards Russian speaking people.

The next day he invited us for dinner, and he brought us a lot of food and seafood and wine. This continued for a few days but, interestingly, he would never join us for dinner, even though he would bring so much food and he would give us a bottle of wine. We wanted to talk in the end, and have a drink together.

So, finally on the day we were leaving he joined us, and we had finished the bottle of wine so immediately be brought over some beer, maybe six or seven bottles and we were just drinking and ganbei (cheers), and in the end we were quite drunk.

The way sometimes he just gave the name of the dish, which for Chinese people in understandable, but for me I have no idea what’s in the dish, so I’d translate it into the manner which I’m used to. I would think from the customer’s point of view, and I’d want to know what’s inside, so I was thinking about what the ingredients are and which sauces are used.

It’s not a life changing story but, what was interesting is that some people speak Russian in Sanya. He and I couldn’t speak, but we could still kind of understand each other.

What does Max want to say to his future self? Have a look! Max is sending a message to his future self to watch ten years from now!

Filmed by Holin Wang and Joan Zheng. Edited by Zhong Youyang. Special thanks to Andy Boreham.

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