TALES FROM CRIMEA
F Four years in Ukraine as a medical student has made me come to call this place “home”. I study in Simferopol which is the capital of Crimea-which is a state. Well, it is an autonomous republic in Ukraine. Now we have to call it Russia. That is a really long story.
I moved to Ukraine when I was 17. If you took a census of the citizens of Simferopol-where I stay, you would actually find out that most people are Pro-Russian. I am sure these particular people are happy with the latest development now that Crimea has officially joined Russia. This is, after the referendum that held some time ago. The curious thing about all that is not everybody is happy with what is going on. Well, obviously, where there is a majority, there is a minority. The minority group- the “Tartars”, are Pro E.U or Pro-Western. They too have their opinion that the territory and sovereignty of Ukraine should not be broken but I digress.
I have a couple of Nigerian and even other African friends here. Of course, most of us are Pro E.U. You see, the European Union is better for our certificates. We think that having Russia on our certificates would give us a lot of road blocks in the future, but we know we are powerless and helpless in the real big picture. the future, but we know we are powerless and helpless in the real big picture.
I scaled through all of that and finally made it to Dnipro. At the Dnipro airport, I had found out I had not prepared myself mentally yet. It ended up being another dramatic and traumatic experience. To get through the hassle was hell! I have 2 passports and an immigration card that have different passport photographs on them. So these people were not sure if I was the one. There was the whole issue with people travelling on stolen passports, so for like 30 minutes, I was interrogated like a war criminal.They asked me to clean off my make-up and pack up my hair. I had 5 people analysing my face from every corner looking for even a smidgen of something different. The questions started again. This time around, the grilling was thorough. The questions kept coming from nowhere and everywhere, all at the same time. “What city do you school in?” before I could answer that question, the next question had barraged out of another person’s mouth. “Are you sure you are the one in the picture?” “How come your eyes look different?” “How come your eye brow in this particular picture is this shape and is another shape now?”
Now, just to explain, in my first passport, I was 17. Now, I am 22 so you can imagine the difference between my first and second passport. My passport on my immigration card was taken 2 years ago. Though I would rather not admit it, I actually added a little teeny bit of weight so, of course, there was a difference. These people kept asking themselves, “are you sure she is the one? Look at her eyes, look at her eye brows”…It was terrible.
To crown it all up, after escaping that horrendous experience, I had a 22 hour stop-over in Istanbul. I was more than relieved to get to Nigeria after all the stress.
All that drama is over. I came for the wedding, and it was a lovely time.
When it was time to leave, they wanted to spoil my show. My flight was cancelled because Simferopol airport was still closed. So I had to fly in to another city, just the way I did when I was coming to Nigeria and take a 7 hour train to Simferopol. I decided to be a Nigerian and stay positive about it all. This Nigerian living in Ukraine will keep you updated.