Ukrainian Diary: A Beer Abroad – Culture

Our trip to Romania on Tuesday afternoon turns out differently than expected. The university driver does not have a biometric passport and cannot enter Romania without a visa. A few days ago he had entered and left the country again, that was possible once, as with refugees who were admitted to Romania without a passport and would return at any time. Only our W. is not a refugee who stays in Romania or continues to the west, he is urgently needed here – as our reliable, thoughtful and helpful driver of the small van.

Because there is a state of war in Ukraine, there is a solution for him without a visa: the “protecţie temporară”, a document that can be issued on the basis of the “Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 of March 4, 2022 to determine the Existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine within the meaning of Article 5 of Directive 2001/55/EC and imposing temporary protection”. The document would be valid for a year and can be issued at the nearest police station, which for us is Siret over the border. We’re again met with great willingness to help, but there’s a technical problem: the electronic system is stuck, we have to be patient.

We drive to the next Lidl and have a snack in the parking lot

We ask the driver from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, who has meanwhile arrived in Suceava, where the transhipment was planned, to come to Siret. He’s not happy about that, but it’s a better solution than an uncertain wait in Suceava. The reloading is done quickly, the system is still stuck, we drive to the nearest Lidl to shop and have a snack in the parking lot. Back at the police station, we learn that the technology is still on strike nationwide, which has now been confirmed from the capital.

Maybe Russian hackers are at work. If we want the driver’s document, we have to stay in Romania until the next day, otherwise W. would be banned from entering the country when we left the country. And we are not allowed to move around Ukraine at any time because of the curfew. S. calls the Prorector in Suceava to ask about accommodation. At some point, he jokes, the pro-rector will simply have the Ukrainian numbers blocked if managing the crisis in Ukraine becomes too much for him. The cooperation with the University of Suceava is one of the oldest and the exchange has been very intensive for decades. We can now take advantage of the hospitality and sleep in the new, recently completed university hotel. We invite the pro-rector for a beer. An unexpectedly relaxed evening abroad, for the first time since the beginning of the war. At home, everything is settled so far: My sister will take care of the mother, our two dogs and three cats will be taken care of by my guests.

The next morning, our Romanian-speaking colleague K. and the driver go to the police station at opening time, the matter is quickly settled, we drive to the Selgros wholesaler, where three pallets of groceries ordered by the pro-rector are waiting. One still has to be paid, in my mind I thank the donor from Berlin DK, whose donation has now landed on my bank card, and so pasta, rice and wheat can also go on the trip. Towards Wednesday evening we are in the student village, where the relief supplies are being unloaded. They are sorted the next day by voluntary student helpers, and Easter packages are made for the residents of the halls of residence. In the majority Orthodox Ukraine, Easter is celebrated on April 24th.

Air alert: a good moment to finally eat something

Thursday is also a full and exciting day. After class, I interpret for a German journalist at an appointment with the mayor. Then we go to the university and talk about our activities in the International Office, then we quickly stop by the student village, where some of the packages are now ready. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for dinner with the journalist and his Romanian companion, at 7 p.m. there is still an online event for students with a German author, which my guest M. initiated.

I gratefully accept the friendly offer to drive me home in her car; On the way, the question arises as to whether a conversation with one of my guests would not be possible. R. is still on the way, but her mother I. is already at home and ready to speak. Communication is possible in Russian, so I let I. talk to both men in the kitchen about their terrible experiences in occupied Mariupol and go to my bathroom, which has now been converted into a study. The online event is perfectly timed: while the fourth question in the discussion round is being answered after the author’s presentation, the air raid alarm goes off. We’re closing the event, after all we’ve done everything. Because no bombs or rockets have hit our region so far, we no longer go down into the basement, but go into the kitchen. “Wouldn’t it be a good time to finally eat something now,” says M. I see it the same way.

Read more episodes of this column here.

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