“Feeling like home”

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from: Katrin Rosendorff

Twin brothers Andrii (right) and Dmytro Turchyna turned 18 in June. © ROLF OESER

Twin brothers Andrius and Dmytro Turchyna together with their mother were able to escape from their native Kiev. But only because they were only 17 years old. They are now 18 years old and have come to Frankfurt in their lifetime.

It’s just a great feeling to wake up in your own apartment,” says Andrii Turchyn, beaming. In Germany, in his new home, everyone just calls him Andi. His twin brother Dmytro, nicknamed Dima, points out: “It feels like home and peaceful here.” He opens the sunroof and looks out. The Ukrainian twins have been living with their mother in an apartment in Kalbach, a rural part of Frankfurt, since July. “It’s like the countryside,” Andi says, laughing.

He already knows German well, but sometimes he mixes it up with English words. The brothers like it here. They have been in Frankfurt since March, they could only leave the country because they were 17 years old at the time. At the end of February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered all men between the ages of 18 and 60 not to leave the country, but to stay to defend their country. Andi and Dimai turned 18 in June.

Looks like the twin brothers have arrived. They are much happier and more relaxed than when they were first interviewed in April, when the memories of the war and the flight from their hometown of Kiev were still fresh. They did not yet know how their life in Frankfurt would continue. “Many of our initial problems, such as applying for welfare and finding an apartment, are now resolved,” says Andi.

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Initially, a host family in Riedberg took the family into their home, and in between lived briefly with the family in Sachsenhausen. On this summer’s day, Andi wears a white t-shirt, sandals, shorts, his brother wears a black Los Flamingos shirt, all clothing donation. The two sit at a white table decorated with dried flowers in the living room, which serves as their mother’s bedroom at night. Each boy has his own room. The furniture is partly from the previous tenant, partly from the owner. They are allowed to live here for an initial period of two years. “The refrigerator broke down, the landlady fixed it especially for us,” Dima happily walks around the new house.

Finding an apartment in Frankfurt was difficult: “When we looked at apartments, the landlords asked about our creditworthiness,” says Andi. But then they were very lucky and found an apartment in Kalbach through a friend. The landlady met them with the rent paid by the social welfare office.

“She wanted to help us because we had to flee from Ukraine,” says Dima and emphasizes: “These stereotypes we knew about Germans, that they are emotionally quite cold and only think about work, were completely untrue. On the contrary: all the people we meet are very hospitable.” His twin brother adds: “Our first host family, to whom we were strangers at first, simply let us live in their house, giving us a pressed house key. Our second host father opened the door for us and greeted us with cups of coffee in hand. It was almost too beautiful.”

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In Kiev, the twins were already students, unlike their mother, they speak English. Andi has already secured a place on a German language course, which means she commutes from Kalbach to TU Darmstadt five times a week. “I just wrote my A2 exam this week,” he says. Meanwhile, his brother and her mother, Nadia Turchyna, 56, are teaching each other German with the help of YouTube. Her integration courses only start in November.

How did you actually celebrate your 18th birthday? “Our family from Riedberg arranged a surprise for us. We also had friends who fled Ukraine, like us,” says Dima. Her Sachsenhausen family invited her to a fine Italian restaurant for pasta. “It was very nice,” says Andi.

IT studies as a goal

He and his brother would like to study IT in Germany in the future. “Because you can do the work from anywhere in the world,” says Dima. At the moment, only Andi has a laptop, which he financed from his job in Kiev. Dima hopes to get a job soon so he can buy his own computer. Both seem more mature, more responsible than normal 18-year-olds.

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