Diary of a Ukrainian refugee: “I fled the war, but the air show made me panic”


It’s been five months since I came to Ireland and I’m still really looking forward to learning more about this country.

It feels like Ireland has evolved at an incredible speed and open-mindedness over the past 20-30 years. That just doesn’t surprise me. It pays to go from a very deeply Catholic society to one that is very open and non-judgmental.

That gives me hope for Ukraine and the time we will have to go through after the war is over. A lot will have to change for us. To be honest, I can’t really bring myself to think about which Ukraine I’m going to return to – whenever that will be. Because even if my city isn’t attacked, I find that people have changed mentally and a lot of what and who I’ve known will never be the same.

Although I never actually experienced the war – we fled a few days before it began – I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover. There was an air show in Bray a few weeks ago and planes flew over our house for two days. When I first heard the sound, I was so panicked that I couldn’t calm myself for about an hour. As for the people who are still in Ukraine, waking up and going to sleep on the floor in the hall to the sounds of sirens – there is no way that will not change you.

Despite this, I mostly feel calm in Dublin. Having previously had mental health issues, I feel Dublin is good for me. I love it when it’s warm, everyone walks out like it’s their last day on earth. I love going out alone and people watching. Normally I would do this with my mother in Lviv, but when I do it alone it works a little differently. You see people, but you make some observations just for yourself. You can’t really discuss them, you just rely on your own thoughts.

Still, I find it very enjoyable to watch Irish people. I love how communities work and how everyone is accepted and included. For me, the most inspiring thing is to see how much older generations are still part of society.

Unfortunately, this is not so much the case in Ukraine. For many people, they are basically thrown away as they get older and retire.

Lucky for them if they have children or family members willing to take care of them, otherwise it’s a sad descent to death. Nice to see that there are alternatives to this. I hope that one day Ukraine will get on this path soon.

The other thing I learned from talking about the Irish is that they are afraid of being perceived as greedy or unwilling to share or keep their money. I don’t really know the right word for it, but I’ve heard it from more than one person I’ve spoken to. I think that speaks very much for you as a nation and in a way explains why many Ukrainians have such positive experiences with locals here in Ireland. It’s really amazing. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be here during this very uncertain time, both in the world and in my life.

In conversation with Katie Byrne Diary of a Ukrainian refugee: “I fled the war, but the air show made me panic”

Fry Electronics Team

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