A student's journey from war torn Ukraine to Bar Ilan University

1. Could you tell us about your experience and what happened in Ukraine?

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. This was a black day for all Ukrainians, which we will never forget. This day divided our lives into "before" and "after". Before the war I lived my usual life in Odessa, worked as an Attorney-at-law, had plans for the future. I heard from the news that Russia was planning an invasion of Ukraine, but neither I nor all my relatives and friends believed that this could be a reality, no one was ready for this.

On 24 February 2022 I was awakened at 7:00 in the morning with the words: “The War has begun; Russia has attacked us!”. Even at that moment, I didn't believe it was true. I started reading the news, called relatives and friends from different cities asking if everything was fine with them. I realized that the whole of Ukraine was under missile attacks, that there were no safe places in Ukraine anymore. During the next few hours, I was frustrated and sitting in my dining room with had no idea what to do. I had an obsessively terrible thought that the Russian military would occupy Odessa and start terrorizing the people and that I did not want to leave my city and country.

Later my close friend called and asked me to go with her to Moldova in her car. Her husband was abroad, and she was afraid for her 2-year old son. She wanted to go to a safe place, but it was dangerous to travel alone with a 2-year old child. I was nervous about it but I agreed to go with her. On the way to a petrol station in the center of Odessa, we heard a strong explosion very close to us. It was a Russian missile strike against warehouses in Odessa. Panic swept through the city that day. My neighbours and all the people on the streets were carrying luggage and they were in a hurry. There were long lines everywhere in shops, ATMs, and petrol stations.

We spent 8 hours at the border with a small child. Finally, in the middle of the night, exhausted, we crossed the border and drove to Chisinau, where one kind family agreed to host us for a few days. The trip was dangerous as we had to pass through Transnistria, officially the Transnistrian Moldavian Republic, an unrecognized self-proclaimed state occupied by the Russian army. Fortunately, it was the first day of the war, and we were able to safely pass through the checkpoints of the Russian army. Although, to be honest, we were very scared. The next day that border crossing point was officially closed by the Ukrainians.

The next two weeks spent in Chisinau were terrible. For almost a whole day, I read the news about how the Russian military in tanks occupied Ukrainian cities and I communicated with relatives from the already occupied territories. Ukraine's future was unknown at that moment. The only thing that gave faith was that Kyiv was bravely defended.

Since we found houses to rent near Chisinau, every day friends from Ukraine came to join us there. Almost every night my friends spent at the border from the Moldova side waiting for more people to come. We tried to help each other. My family refused to leave Ukraine. Traveling through Ukraine from one region to another became dangerous,  

Before the trip, in the first hours of the war, I planned to spend a few days in Moldova and return to Odessa. That is why I took with me only one small bag with the most necessary things for a couple of days. However, I did not know that my forced trip would be so long. It's been almost a year since I've been away from home and family. In Chisinau I realized that it is very dangerous to return to Ukraine. Every day the situation became worse and worse. Despite the fact that I was in a safe place my heart was full of worry for my relatives, friends and my lovely motherland, and the war is not over yet.

2. Why did you decide to move to Israel?

The mother-in-law of my friend, with whom I escaped the war, is living in Israel. My friend invited me to go with her to Israel and stay with her mother-in-law for a while. We believed that the war would end soon and it would be better to wait in Israel with the family of my friend. In such a difficult time, the best option is to be with someone and go through difficulties together.

3. How did you find the IMBA program?

Unfortunately, the war did not end in the spring or summer, as everyone expected. Now the war is still at its peak. In the summer I realized that I needed to use this time outside of my country to study and gain new knowledge. I reviewed the curriculum of the International MBA program and I think that this program can give me necessary knowledge in business practice with focus on leadership and global management. In addition, I chose to study at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, as twenty-five years ago Bar-Ilan became the first Israeli university to offer an MBA in English and I think that the University has accumulated the necessary experience in this area.

I believe that my legal experience, combined with knowledge of business administration, will be useful for my country especially given that Ukraine will be involved in a long process of recovery after the war and will require highly qualified managers with global networking skills. 

4. What has your experience been like so far in Israel and on the program?

When I had to escape the war in Ukraine I couldn't imagine that Israel and especially Bar Ilan University would give me the chance to use this most difficult time of my life away from my family to benefit my career prospects and help me to overcome such life difficulties.

The long days of the war made me react less emotionally to all events, but it is still impossible to remain indifferent. Studying helps to get a little distracted from the worries about Ukraine and return at least a little sense of the former normal life. I received a very warm welcome from the University community. I feel that the support from University staff and classmates gives me strength.

Last Updated Date : 22/02/2023