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Mariia

Ukraine
27
My favorite memories are food, nature, being with my family doing road trips. It sounds amazing, of course, there were a lot of struggles and economical issues but I feel as soon as I left my home country I appreciated more what I had.

In 2014, the revolution started in Ukraine and at that time I was working in a political party as a prosecutor for the opposition party. I was very confident and convinced that I could help to change the future, change my country for the better like to be in the European Union. Unfortunately, it did not work well. It was a difficult time so when I finished my university, and my work at a political party I decided to leave the country for good. I found a European project that could economically help. Then, I did the application process, and it last 6 months until one Spanish organization selected me as a volunteer. After that, I applied for a Visa to come to Spain. In 2015 July, I arrived to participate in that project which was related to Erasmus.

 

My favorite memories are food, nature, being with my family doing road trips.
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My experience moving to Spain was no easy, I was young, only 21 years old. It was the first time in an airplane so I felt extremely lost. I did not how this worked like I had no clue about how to close the belt, get out of the plane, or how to pick up my luggage. I felt annoyed and useless. My flight was from Kiev to Barcelona, after that I took a 15 hours bus to Valladolid. In Valladolid, I stayed for two years and a half. I was working as a volunteer with people with mental illness in a healthcare center. After that experience, I moved to Mallorca with my ex-partner. It was super different than Valladolid. In Mallorca, I spent two years and a half, at that point, I was living for 5 years in Spain. Nowadays, I am in my 8th year, time flies fast.

The life I am having in Spain is completely different from the one I had in Ukraine. I was raised in a small village, in the countryside. My life was pretty calm and chilled, it was even like that in the city where I studied for the university, this city it was not too big and close to the capital. About my childhood, I can say that I love traveling, this is how I remember my childhood. Surrounded by nature and in  a family ambiance. We were two siblings, my older brother and I and we used to play with the village guys so, mainly were boys and me. We did lots of sports and lots of stuff in an abandoned building because my father built a house, and we lived in an area where new houses were built. Basically, there were lot of outdoor activities, I remember myself biking 5km to visit my grandparents or building tents outside and going to rivers and lakes.

About my parents, I should say they are hard workers. Since I was 6 I remember my parents working while my brother and I went to school. Now, reflecting on my childhood and the background I had, That’s why I am so strong, I feel that also that gave me adaptability, that’s the reason why I  am very easy going and also why I think we could be happy with so little. So, about my life in Ukraine, I can say my favorite memories are food, nature, and being with my family doing road trips. It sounds amazing, of course, there were a lot of struggles and economical issues but I feel as soon as I left my home country I appreciated more what I had.

When I came to the EU I needed to overcome many challenges, but the biggest obstacle was my visa. I lived on a student visa for 3 years and hoping to get my modification, and it was not so smooth. I took me a lot of time and process to change it. Finally,I received my official documents after 4 years, so it was very hard. The language barrier was also difficult but in six months I could already speak Spanish. I think because I lived in Valladolid which is in the center of Spain and nobody spoke English. I was in a challenging position but I learned really fast.

I am currently living in Barcelona, Spain. I work for an organization that is dedicated to working on social inclusion on migrants, refugees and basically, we worked towards awareness of the local community, and with a super international team. I’m a project manager and I do a lot of everything. The best part of my work is the freedom, diversity, opportunities, trips, travels, people’s experiences when they moved to Spain. I will never regret it. I would really like to get more involved in social projects, I feel like this is what I am supposed to do. I love project management and sometimes when I am getting tired, I feel I need someone to tell me what to do. I feel very grateful, and I know that many people are not getting paid for what I do. Maybe I’d like to change the angle of my objective and what I am doing but I still like to stay in Barcelona and develop my life here.

I do have dreams to accomplish, ideas, plans. Currently, it’s very difficult to plan in advance, but I do my best. So, basically for this year, I have still travel plans, and I know due to Covid, I might not travel to countries I really want to go to, but I will go anywhere. My dream idea is to work enough to maintain myself and have enough time for my own project.

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Photographer
Joana Serrat