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  • Writer's pictureJRS Romania

Igor, a teenager from Ukraine, shared the story of his journey to Romania as a refugee

Many of you already know Igor, the young man who greets you calmly at the JRS office. We asked him to share his story with us. His story is also the story of many other teenagers who arrived in Romania. Life changed him, he grew up and grew up suddenly. War changes us, but it also makes us stronger. ………………………………………. “I'm from Ukraine and I had a normal life like any student until the war started. In fact, I tried to have a normal life as much as possible during the war but, because of the danger, I fled to Romania. My name is Igor, and I am 18 years old. I turned 18 in July. When I arrived in Romania, I was just 17 years old.

In Ukraine, I lived with my father in the city of Poltava. Poltava is about 200 km from Kharkov. I lived with my father in an apartment, in a normal flat. I am a student at the Polytechnic University, and I also had a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant. Apart from studying, I was doing what any young person does in general: meeting friends, studying, having fun, and learning. The war started on February 24 in the morning. That morning, my mother called me to tell me that the war had started. I was asleep at that time. I somehow didn't react to this news. I am very calm in general and do not get impatient easily. I didn't worry too much and also, I couldn't believe the war started. So, I continued my day in a normal way. I had my breakfast and went to work. I don't watch the news. I don't like such information from the press and in Poltava in the beginning, the sirens didn't even sound. So, I didn't realize how serious the war was. And in general, everyone was trying to have their lives as before. People went to work, I went to work. But I didn't go to school anymore because it was closed. After work, I still managed to meet up with my friends and talk about what had happened, but until curfew, because it was declared a state of emergency. The streets had become much emptier in the meantime. There were police checks every night if they found you on the street. After the war started, my father made the decision to move and live in the medical clinic where he worked. The clinic was on the other side of the city, an area that was not important, a little further away from Kharkov, so, it was much safer. They also had a bunker in the clinic... I stayed in the clinic for four weeks. After that, my father made the decision for me to send me out of Ukraine because he said it was more and more dangerous. He was afraid that after the attack on Kharkov, Poltava would be attacked. I didn't panic then either. My father couldn't leave with me because he was a man, and my mother is a doctor and she wasn't allowed to leave either. I left for Romania with my father's sister, my aunt and Masha, my cousin. The journey took 2 days. I couldn't sleep at all. The train was very crowded. We crossed bombed areas. Everyone was panicking around me. But I was calm. Arriving directly in Bucharest, things were simple for us. Our grandmother had left before us and had already found an apartment for us to live in. All four of us lived in an apartment where we paid rent. Then we stopped paying rent because the 50/20 program started.

We had savings and often went to Romexpo for help. We didn't lack anything. But I was very disappointed. I didn't know what to do and had nothing to do all day. I just sat at home and looked at my phone. Talking every night with friends and family... that's it.

I'm passionate about music and I write rap music. And that's when I started to write some songs but I didn't have enough peace to finish them. My style of music has changed. The songs are more aggressive. It's my way of expressing myself. I'm waiting for the war to be over and then I'll publish my songs. One day, my grandmother and aunt found a humanitarian organization and came for assistance. Here I found other Ukrainian volunteers. As I had nothing to do at home, I signed up as a volunteer to help. Then, with time, I ended up working in this organization and I can support myself. Now I've moved into a studio flat by myself. I am continuing my studies online, at the faculty in Poltava. I wanted to go back home several times because I felt lonely. But my parents told me I had nothing to find at home. No jobs, no money... Besides, I can be taken into the army.

With the money I earn, I can help my parents. In Romania, I couldn't go to university. The language is difficult, it takes a long time to learn Romanian. For me, the only option was to study online. Unfortunately, online school is not good. I'm in my second year of university and it's difficult to learn online.

My father is proud of me for managing my life on my own and for helping him. I also miss my friends who could better understand me without me talking too much to them. Here, I made one Romanian friend, and we met through music. I have been here for almost 7 months. Although I can't say exactly what happiness is, although I am satisfied with little, I think that here I am happy, I am satisfied with what I have and how I am. Today I feel good, tomorrow I feel sad, and often I don't know for what reason. The only thing I want is to be like before again.

I want this war to end. When the war will be over, I don't know if I will return home. I already have a life here and I'm used to being independent. I want to continue my studies, work, and compose more music. I'm trying to have a normal life again.”

#lifestories #ukraine #teenagerslife

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