15-year-old Arina moved to Cluj two years ago. After moving to her new city, she joined a local judo club, Bubble Gum, but then chose to prioritize her studies. She is from Odesa, Ukraine. Her family lives in Romania, but her brother remains in Ukraine. Arina has found a sense of belonging in her new city. Despite the challenges, her love for travel continues to be a source of joy and inspiration.

“ I feel like at home in Cluj, because I have my family next to me and I have made new friends. People were really kind and welcoming when I came here.”

“When the war started I couldn’t imagine I was leaving the country for years. I thought I’d leave only for a couple of weeks. So, when I arrived in Cluj, at first I didn’t want to get to know people, because I was angry. Luckily I got support from my new community and soon I realized,  that I needed to be strong.”

“My strength is that I’m stubborn in a good way. If I decide to achieve a  goal, I’ll definitely do it.”

“Family means people that are always there for you”

My idol is my mom. She is a strong woman. Family means people that are always there for you. They always support and care about me. They will also always be by my side if needed.”

“My mom, dad and sister are here in Cluj with me, but my brother went back to Ukraine. He is serving in the army. I’m really proud of him. He decided to stay [in Ukraine] and defend our family and country. I think that every Ukrainian became stronger because of the war, regardless whether they are in Ukraine or moved away. People who flee are strong because of the obstacles they have to overcome. But those who stayed in Ukraine, are even stronger. ”

Arina (on the right) and her friend Vika

They don’t understand, because they haven’t experienced war

“When I talk to my new friends about the war, they knod and say “Yeah, I understand”. But they don’t. Because they haven’t experienced war”

“In Odesa I had many friends. They left the city too. Many of them moved to other places, I’m glad I can still keep in touch with them. If I’m sad, I’ll look at pictures of my home city, Odesa. I loved Odesa, it was a beautiful city near the sea. I hope that it all will be over soon and everything goes back to normal.”

By Raisa Wuollet and Zili Jalabadze