Yurko Turskiy, a frontend developer working for Advisable sat down with Trevor Murray to talk about leaving his home country of Ukraine, starting a new life with his girlfriend on the west coast of Ireland, and what it means to have arrived in Galway in the midst of trouble in his homeland…
For Yurko, who originally hails from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, it was important that he got a job working with an international team where he could speak English – and Advisable gave him that opportunity, having helped him submit a work permit visa that allows him to live and work in Ireland. Yurko has a background in graphic design but ultimately decided to get involved in development. He also explains that he “loves” working for Advisable, and is keen to contribute everything he can to develop a seamless and attractive website for their users.
Advisable is a business that aims to help companies complete diverse tasks and projects. Led by their CEO Peter O’ Malley, they essentially make it easier for their clients to discover the talent and community base needed to complete all sorts of workstreams. They also facilitate the process whereby freelancers can get their work noticed by the right people.
Currently based in the PorterShed where he works as part of a collaborative team, Yurko is now living with his girlfriend Kate in Galway. Kate herself is a PhD Chemistry student who is now doing her studies remotely, continuing to deliver lectures and work in the early hours of the morning. Kate is also studying Python and hopes to become a data scientist in the near future.
While Yurko and Kate have done their utmost to keep up some semblance of a normal life, doing so has certainly been an unprecedented challenge, to say the very least. In fact, Yurko arrived in Galway just a few days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine escalated. It had always been his plan to move to another country – but Ireland was an unexpected eventual destination.
“Eventually, I arrived here on the 13th of February, and 11 days later the full-scale war started with Russia. I’m saying full-scale war because we were in the war for eight years – that was a slow war, but now we have a full-scale war,” Yurko explained.
Uprooting to begin again has been a decision millions of people have made throughout history for a myriad of reasons, and Yurko now counts himself as one of those people. The opportunity provided by Advisable was a big enticement to come to Ireland for a new adventure, but the outbreak of a full war made Yurko’s relocation more problematic – and dramatic. Moving was not a decision Yurko took lightly either. Yurko’s girlfriend Kate was still in Ukraine at the time his work permit came through, moving briefly to Poland for temporary shelter because of the war. Initially, Kate’s plan was to move to the States, but they decided that being together in Ireland was the best idea. Yurko had to wait for his other half to join, and the wait for both was an anxious one.
“The whole situation was horrible. The feeling of war was in the air. It was very scary, to be honest.
“It was really stressful. For the first week, the muscles in my neck were in tension. I had headaches, though headaches are not [usually] my problem. I wasn’t able to eat. I had to force myself to eat once per day. I lost some weight even though I’m skinny. It was hard to smile and communicate with people – especially with Irish people because they are all the time friendly and they smile!”
Yurko had to force himself to learn how to adjust to leaving behind the life he had before and jump into the new one he is now creating. After weeks of intolerable anxiety and worry, he’s now socializing, smiling, and getting to know the people around Galway. Indeed, the safety net of his new home has helped and Yurko’s impression of Galway – and Ireland – is a positive one.
“It’s an amazing place. I like it.
“For me it was a sign that the western world understands those risks. The whole world understands. That we got the full support of everyone, it was really amazing. On the first day of the full-scale invasion, I found news that Ireland waived visas, and it was really impressive that Ireland were aware of what they needed to do and how to support.
“I feel supported a lot,” he says, adding that Kate feels the same way owing to the many Ukrainians they see being helped in Ireland.
Back home, Yurko still has family, friends, and loved ones that he regularly stays in touch with, and although he has moved to Galway, he remains tethered to his homeland.
“I call them on Telegram.
“Most of my family are in Kyiv – my mom, my brother, my sister, my sister’s husband. My sister has three small kids. They decided to stay there because they were not sure if it was safe to go west.
“My grandma is living between Kyiv region and Zhytomyr region; it was really dangerous there, so I was really worrying about the situation with her, but she’s fine now.”
For Yurko, the current situation in Ukraine is something he is looking to alleviate as much as he can from his base in Ireland. He’s sending as much support and aid as he can to comfort those back home – and he’s constantly in touch with them when he’s not working. And while the present is unfortunately negative beyond much compare, Yurko tells me that he believes Ukraine will come through this dark time – and his people will return.
“When Ukraine wins, hopefully, I could come back to visit my family and friends,” he says.
After all, Yurko knows that there is so much more that he can achieve for his country from Ireland.
“I had a really big desire to go there in the first days. I was almost ready to drop everything and fly back, but my relatives and my family they told me not to do that, because I am completely useless there!
“My possibilities here are much bigger, and I can do much more being here than there.”
By Trevor Murray