"Right now I'm sure that I need to continue to live my life and follow my dreams."
Irene was my first contact in the Ukraine story. She came to Istanbul as a tourist before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But she couldn't go back. His mother lived in Mariupol, which was most devastated by the war. When I asked her how she was doing, she couldn't hold back her tears. But in our last communication, she learned that her mother was alive through her friend, who had left the city. We had an interview while we were wandering around Istanbul together. Later, I learned that she started her education with a scholarship he found in Germany. This was the best possible solution for her.
"I came on 9th of February. I was planing to stay in Istanbul until 5th of March and then have a trip on Aegean region. After that I planned to come back to Kyiv due to work. I couldn't return to my country because of the war. I had to stay here in Istanbul, because it's safer. First week was awful, I didn't do anything at all. My friends was trying to entertain me, but even if we go out, I still was checking the news all the time. Daily meetings with other Ukrainians were quite supportive. But after a while it got exhausting especially because a long way I need to make for these meetings. Now, when shock passed I'm trying to follow few rules: have proper food, go out. If I feel good enough I can do yoga, read a book and write. These things supports me in daily life. I'm living in my friend's house. She left to another city for a job for 6 month and let me stay here. So far I'm not paying my part of rent, only bills. But I hope I can pay for myself soon. My partner in Kyiv at the moment safe and has enough of food and water. We are in touch and I'm quite calm.
My mother lives in Mariupol and I didn't here from her anything since 2d of March. I don't know if she alive, if Russians took her by force to Russia, is she has any water and food. Right now I'm sure that I need to continue to live my life and follow my dreams. Finish a book, write another one, continue my academic career. I never saw myself as someone who lives at the same country for all life. I think it will be heartbreaking to see my homeland in ruins, but I'll definitely will come back, because I belong to that land. But still it's important to travel and live in other countries. Before war I wanted to travel because I wanted to see other cultures. But now I think it's also important to represent Ukraine."
Our last meeting was electronically. Because she left Istanbul and went to Germany for her education.
"After the war started I lost the source of my income and staying in Istanbul became quite expensive for me. I had no idea what to do and how to find a job. I wanted to find a job in NGO in Turkey. But I was aware of the crisis and I didn't expect to find it soon. Meanwhile, my colleagues started to send me different options for researchers. I applied for two opportunities. In Germany and in Israel. Since applying to accept my proposal it took less than one month. Both universities were ready to welcome me with a scholarship. I chose Germany, just because it feels safer. My university is in a small town, it's not overloaded with refugees compared with big cities like Berlin or Munich. But still, we have here a few thousands of fled Ukrainians. People at the university are very hospitable and open. They helped me to find accommodation for a very reasonable price, they help me with documents and domestic issues. Even though I don't have friends here and still feel quite lonely, these people help me to feel support. I can come back to my job, have a proper house, and don't worry about money. And support from the government is also strong. A Few days ago I got a message from my mom. Her friend left Mariupol. She sent me a message that my mother is alive and the house is still preserved. She gets humanitarian help. I don't know anything else. Still, they can't charge their phones and call because there is neither electricity nor connection. On the one hand, I am happy that she survived. From another hand, the situation is getting worse every day in Mariupol. And it hurts that I can't help her."