A sad birthday

On Sunday I celebrated Easter with my sister and my mother.

We don't go to church, but we ate Kulich (similar to a muffin) and painted eggs.

It's a tradition with us.

Eva sleeper

Editor in the "Life" department of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

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Yesterday was my birthday.

But it was a sad one.

I could only see most of my friends via video call.

When they congratulated me, I cried because I miss them very much.

Every day.

Just like my homeland: I don't just miss the people, I miss the tomatoes, cucumbers and apples from the Ukraine.

Here in Europe, in the Netherlands, everything tastes like plastic to me.

Also in Germany.

A friend of mine told me a few days ago how she rode the German train.

In the second class everything was completely overcrowded.

Then she went to first grade.

It was empty, and yet an inspector wanted money from her.

If second grade is full, why not let people into first grade?

It reminds me a lot of Ukraine and Western Europe.

Many of us are only allowed in because we're supposed to fill second grade, not first.

I sound really cynical.

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood today because I couldn't see my friends on my birthday.

At least I have my mother and my sister with me.

You are currently looking for a job.

I want to work too.

However, this is not so easy in Enschede without language skills. 

Margareta, 23 years old, Enschede

I will study in Giessen

The last two weeks since coming back to Kyiv have been bizarre, fast paced and full of hope.

A month ago I applied for a semester abroad in Germany.

The acceptance at the University of Giessen, where I studied political science for a semester last year, was lightning fast and unbureaucratic.

I would like to thank the university administration for that!

But it took a lot of time and nerves to collect the relevant documents and get them signed by the war authorities.

I am very pleased that despite the war and several restrictions, Ukraine is proving to be student-friendly and allowing us to study abroad.

The exit procedure was explained by the supreme commander of the Ukrainian army himself.

I feel all the more obliged to later invest the knowledge in the development of Ukraine.

My parents disagree, tell me I should root myself in Germany.

They say there is nothing more for me to look for in the Ukraine.

I understand your fears, as well as your disappointment.

They wish me a better life, without danger, middle-class and satisfied.

The things that people of my generation actually find ridiculous or found before the war broke out.

But I feel so connected to my city of Kyiv that sooner or later I would like to live there again.

Again Ukraine became the center of the “world spirit”.

In a certain sense, this is where the future of Europe will be decided.

I definitely want to be part of this development.

And active.

I don't want to always hide in Western Europe.

But now I'm taking a step in this direction by going to Germany to study.

It starts immediately.

Vlad, 20 years old, Kyiv

we want to stay

I have the second week of my German course behind me.

I find the pronunciation difficult, but my impression is that German is a logical language.

It is important to me and my sons that we learn German.

Shortly after the war started, I thought that as soon as possible we would travel on to my sister in Canada.

But we feel so comfortable in Dusseldorf, Germany that we decided as a family to stay here. 

In my younger son's theater project this week, a Ukrainian was a guest who has been living here for a long time.

She photographed the children and asked them how it was for them to leave the Ukraine, what they like about Düsseldorf, how they imagine their future.

She wants to do an exhibition.

My older son, who is 16 years old, now has an answer to the question about his future: His dream is to finish school in Düsseldorf and then go to university, preferably something to do with economics.

My husband, with whom we talk on the phone every day, sometimes even morning and evening, says that we have to make the best decisions for our children.

I think that he could easily find a job as a programmer in Germany.

But as long as the whole situation is so uncertain, it's difficult for both of us to talk about whether we might one day live together in Germany.

We three miss him very much.

Sometimes when the boys aren't behaving the way I want them to behave, I call him and he has to talk them into their consciences.

What we do know for sure: On May 12th we have to leave the hotel where we have been for five weeks.

Since it doesn't look like there will be an apartment for us so far, we expect to come to an emergency shelter. 

Elena, 43 years old, Dusseldorf