The night before the Russian invasion, my boyfriend told me not to worry yet and that we have to wait for big news. Well, I woke up to the information about the attack on Ukraine and the fact that I expected it does not make anything less terrifying.
With my family and friends living in the Eastern Poland, Russia attacking a bordering country is scary. My worries are nothing compared to Ukrainian students and staff, and I hope to avoid putting myself first. Nevertheless, the whole weekend after hearing the news I wanted to spend in my bed, having absolutely no energy for neither work nor socialising. However, with an assessment due in less than 2 weeks I couldn’t allow myself a longer break despite feeling off and struggling to focus.
I’m using past tense here but the truth is that even though I’m doing better now, I’m still anxious and terrified, expecting bad news any time. I know the advice to check news at specific times a day, instead of scrolling phone all the time, but it is surprisingly difficult to resist the urge when you’re imagining the worst. Sometimes I manage to feel comfy but after chatting to my worried parents, I feel scared again. It is so weird to be safe, living in a country that isn’t significantly impacted by the war so far, when my family and friends are not far from the warfare. This whole experience makes me miss home as much as I only did in the first weeks in England and video calls don’t make it easier.
One of the aspects I struggle the most with is the contrast between the attitude towards war in Poland and England. I’m not saying that English people don’t care – I see supportive posts on social media, people around me checking news, my flatmates asking how I feel. Rather it is the way how people perceive reality. For Poles, it is a question of: “how can I continue my life, my normality, when people across the border are being killed and we can be next?.” For many of them, everyday help became a reality. They prepare hundreds of sandwiches a day for refugees, volunteer in the donation points and drive to Ukraine to help with the rescue. I’m not a hero, I don’t think I would find the energy to make lots of food, time to spend whole days sorting products and definitely not enough bravery to cross the Ukrainian border, but nevertheless, here I feel useless. I guess donating money helps but it is difficult to overcome the feeling that I’m not doing enough, especially since I’m in the privileged position of safety.