Fallout: Ukraine War

“In February of this year, I left behind my parents, an increasingly unstable economic infrastructure, and the only country I’ve ever called home, Belarus.”

I’m not from Ukraine or Russia, and I’m not politically active, but the war has affected me immensely. As sanctions in Ukraine piled on, it impacted me in Belarus, making it difficult to access the internet to do my job, and hindering my ability to put food on the table.

I love my job, but working remotely as a software developer for a U.S. based AAA video game studio, the internet is vital to my livelihood. Without it, I can’t access the necessary tools to do my job. So, I knew I’d have to make a move if I wanted to continue working in the gaming industry, as is my passion.

Map of Europe with Belarus highlighted in Red

But, I was unsure about leaving Belarus. Closing in on 40 years old, I’ve never lived anywhere else. I had thought I was settled, but all of a sudden everything was uprooted. If I wanted to continue to make a living I had to decide to leave everything familiar behind.

Life was chaotic, and when I visited Ukraine and witnessed cities being bombed, it was even more so. Because of this, leaving proved difficult. Making a tough situation even tougher, I was denied entry to many countries because of my country of origin.

My reporting manager helped guide me through this phase of my transition. First, we had to determine what countries were open to Belarusians and were relatively covid-friendly. The U.S. and Canada were closed to me. Western Europe was closed. For days I searched for flights out but it was like a game of whack-a-mole (every time I thought I found a flight it was either booked or the flight just disappeared). I couldn’t get on a single flight leaving Belarus. Flights were filling up at lightning speed – when something opened up, it was taken before I had the chance to finish booking it. Finally, after a long two days, I got lucky and booked a flight to Turkey. I packed a bag and my laptop and left for the airport.

Photo of travelers waiting in lines at European airport
Photo by Darcy Lawrey

I spent one night in Turkey before booking a flight to Cyprus, an island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea which I chose mainly because there were Russian and English-speaking communities.

For someone who needed to get work done, the accommodations weren’t right. I tried four different places until I finally found a suitable place, where I stayed for two months. In total, I was there for three months, the maximum amount of time I could stay without getting a long-term visa.

But I’ll be honest, Cyprus is an incredibly beautiful place.

Sharp rocks extend into turquoise sea
Photo by Pixabay

Actually, it was a paradise compared to where I came from. I could commute to the beach in ten minutes by bike and the food was great. It couldn’t compete with western European food, but it was still good. I splurged a few times and ate at nice restaurants that served fresh fish. Otherwise, my diet consisted of pizza, meat, rice, fish & chips, and other simple dishes.

During these times, I still often thought of home and called/face-timed my parents often. They never let on any current struggles and appeared to be very well so it made this journey easier knowing they were good.

After my three-month stay, it was time to head to my final destination. I chose to settle in Dublin, which I can already tell is an enchanting place even before exploring it. I’m still living in a suitcase, but I just signed a long-term lease and in two weeks I’ll be starting a new life there.

Photo by Steven Hylands

I’m not an adventurous person. I’m not young and I never expected that I would have to do this much travel living out of a backpack. Thankfully, in two weeks I’ll be settled in a new city, a new place to call home, for the foreseeable future.

“But I miss being at home, in Belarus. I miss my parents, the city where I grew up, and all the familiarity that comes with living in one place. But I won’t dwell on that. I’m looking forward to exploring Dublin and adding a new definition to the word ‘home.’”

– Fin.


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