I am currently in my fourth year at Dnipropetrovsk State Medical Academy in Dnipro, Ukraine. I recently had to leave Ukraine as the tension with Russia made me and many of my batchmates, who are from India, worried. Though we were not given a clear picture of whether or not we are going to be able to return to Ukraine, our concerned parents calling us at least 15-20 times a day did make it hard for us to stay back.
Back in Ukraine, I saw a shift in how people went about their day. I heard stories of locals joining arms training, buying guns and keeping their gas tank full just in case a war broke out. I saw people carrying guns on the streets, which was not usually the case since I came here.
Many Ukrainians are stocking up on groceries, mainly food items as a survival strategy while at the same time paying high prices for gas as Russia restricted the export of gas to the country. I have always witnessed Ukraine as a country with a lot of hustle and bustle, but for the past few weeks, the country has descended into silence. By night, markets close down and people go back homes, which is unlike a country with a vibrant nightlife.
Our teachers have been encouraging us to leave the country as compared to the Deans and VCs of our universities who have been adamant about keeping offline classes for us and have been assuring us that nothing untoward will happen. About 10-15 of us students from Dnipro left for the Kiev International Airport on a Tuesday evening. The travel lasted for eight hours and when we reached the airport all we could see were reporters swarming the travellers, asking questions about reasons for leaving the country or the current situation. We saw multiple flights getting cancelled, some getting delayed.
After spending 10 hours at the airport due to the delayed schedule, I took the Air Arabia flight from Kiev to Sharjah and then from Sharjah to Delhi. I was extremely relieved and calm about the situation as I considered myself fortunate to get a flight back home. I landed in Delhi and hugged my father who was waiting at the airport to pick me up and we made our way to my hometown in Mathura.
Though I am not sure how things will pan out in the coming weeks, I hope sense prevails and we see an amicable solution soon. Until then, co-ordinating with the university officials to conduct online classes is the only resolution left with many students like me.
(Shreya Pal is a 4th year Medical student at Dnipropetrovsk State Medical Academy, Dnipro, Ukraine)