Her hometown was bombed. In recent days and weeks, Kyiv has been going through hell. Her male relatives had to stay in Ukraine and enlist in the army. Seventeen-year-old Ukrainian Maria-Victoria and her mother managed to escape. Comenius University offered them shelter.

26. 04. 2022 10.12 hod.
Od: Naša univerzita magazine

The Congress Centre in Modra – Harmónia is situated in a scenic and laid-back area of the Little Carpathians mountain range, only 25 km (15.5 mi) from both Bratislava and Trnava. Now it became a temporary home to a number of refugees from Ukraine. Maria-Victoria is one of them.

She and her mother fled to Slovakia, but her father and uncle couldn’t. At the moment, no one in her family is serving in the armed forces of Ukraine, but her cousin Konstantin helps the army as a civilian. She knows many people who also fled the country and ended up in cities all around Europe. Most of her friends and relatives, however, remained in Ukraine – staying in towns which are safer than Kyiv, like Lviv, Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil or Uzhhorod. She and her mom are the only ones who left Ukraine.

„My two grandmothers stayed in Kyiv, as did other members of my family. My two grandmothers are very old, one of them can't even stand up anymore. My cousin Anastasia and aunt Anna are taking care of them and don't want to leave," she explains. At the time of our interview, she and her mother had only been in Slovakia for thirteen days. What does it feel like to be suddenly in a foreign country? „It is hard. You leave the country where you spent your life, where you have work, family and friends, and it ́s so hard to go somewhere else and end up in a place where you suddenly don ́t have anything. I am here, my family is in Kyiv, and it is so scary that I cannot see them. We text each morning and they tell me that they are ok. We support each other and we know that everyone is fine."

A Future Journalist?

Her difficult fate notwithstanding, Maria-Victoria remains incredibly positive and always has a smile on her face. Her plan is to study at Comenius University. She can study in English but she also wants to learn Slovak. „I want to stay here and attend the university, so I will try and learn the language. My mum is trying to find a job in Slovakia, but she speaks neither English, nor Slovak. We don ́t know how long the war in our country will last, but we hope to go home once the war is over." 

Maria-Victoria wants to study journalism and work as a PR manager or just work in communication or advertising in general. Her dream job is to work for a PR agency. She is fluent in Russian and English in addition to her native Ukrainian. „In Ukraine I attended the National Aviation University in Kyiv and studied journalism and PR communication in the first year. I don ́t know whatʼs going on there now," continues Maria-Victoria.

Humble despite the hardship

Although her life is extremely difficult at the moment, Maria Victoria tries to stay positive despite the hardship. She still hopes that everything will be fine and that she can return home to reunite with her family when the war ends. During our conversation, she smiles constantly. Smile never leaves her lips, even as my own eyes well with tears.

When I ask her how we can help the Ukrainians affected by the war, she answers humbly: „I think that right now I have everything I need. Your support matters a lot. We just need to know that you are here for us. In Bratislava, I saw many Ukrainian flags and banners with 'Glory to Ukraine' written on them. I have already made friends in Modra, it ́s great to laugh with them and talk about our situation. This is also a form of help and I think you are doing a lot," concludes Maria-Victoria.

Radka Rosenbergová