I come from a small city in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, and currently studying at Odessa National Medical University, Ukraine. What we are witnessing right now is unprecedented and day-by-day the situation is getting worse. We are waking up to the sounds of sirens in the city of Odessa. Between 5:00 AM-6:30 AM, the sounds of the sirens serve as alarm for us. The shellings and bombings in the city have also become a cause of concern and have left us traumatised to the core.
Though the Embassy has issued some advisories, we are not able to successfully contact them. The Romania and Hungary embassies have offered help to the Indian nationals stuck in Ukraine but it is difficult for us to reach the borders on the west, due to lack of public transport that has affected the city of Odesa.
While some in the city stay in hostels, flats, etc, others stay in communes. There are troops near the port, which is a few meters away from us; the situation is such that we can’t even differentiate between the Russian and Ukrainian forces present there. The night curfew announced by the government lasts from 11 PM to 6 AM but we are trying our best to not venture out unless we want to buy groceries or other essential products. Bread, rice, etc. are in severe shortages in the country as it has forced us to buy more water bottles instead.
In some cases when an alarm or siren rings in the city, we are not able to make out if they are trials or to warn about an airstrike. Due to language barriers, locals are prioritised for safety more as the authorities are not able to understand us.
Students who left the country early on made a good decision as the escalations would have severely affected them too, while others who remain here are now in front of the Indian Embassy pleading for evacuation. We are currently filling up forms provided to us by the Indian authorities in Romania and Hungary but even then only students living near the western border shared with Poland, Romania, etc., would be able to get themselves out.
The Odessa University also didn’t make it clear early on about their preferred mode of learning for the student. While online classes were administered to us, we didn’t have much clarity on whether or not it will continue after two weeks. This made the students worry about a possible expulsion if in case they don’t attend the in-person classes. Our plan now is to stay here until the Embassy takes a call.
My memories of Odessa, as a city with vibrant nightlife, will not fade away but the dark side of the city will be embedded in my memory forever.
(Adnan Azhar is a medical student at Odesa National Medical University, Ukraine)
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