If you come to the cafeteria at the KDI School, then you’ve probably already met – and wondered about – the Vyshnevskyi Family, built by Iegor, a PhD Student, his wife Vira, and their beautiful daughter, Emiliia.
The history of this Ukrainian family goes back to Kyiv, specifically to the Bank of Ukraine where Iegor was working as a government expert. Indeed, it was here that he first met Vira, unbeknownst to him that years later she would become his wife. Yet, it wasn’t love at first sight and they just became firm friends. However, Vira soon wowed him with her culinary skills, preparing delicious dishes. So that sowed the seeds of their relationship which began properly approximately three months before Igor received the call from KDI School to start studying for his master’s degree.
It was a struggle to maintain a long-distance relationship, but love always finds a way. They managed to stay together and their relationship flourished. Sometime later baby Emiliia came into their lives. Now she is a cute three year old little girl, contented and smart, who naturally draws attention wherever she goes with her blond hair, intensely colored eyes and her joyous energy. Other children automatically gravitate towards her, wanting to play with her in the playground.
Iegor has now lived in Korea for almost two and a half years. “His girls” (as he calls them) joined him in Korea about a year ago. The decision to move to Korea was not easy one as they had to leave behind many of the familiar comforts from their home country,
Vira: It was very difficult to say goodbye to our friends, to leave all our home comforts, our jobs, our family”, but despite everything, Vira has never wavered in her support of her husband to pursue his dream.
Iegor: I really appreciate the fact that Vira is right beside me, supporting me to realize my goals; stepping outside one’s comfort zone is never an easy thing to do. Having a family to support is definitely a bigger responsibility but, together, we make a great team. Ultimately, this is what has allowed me to get to where I am today.
The road has not been an easy one to travel though. They both agree that coming to a country where neither of them speak Korean as a first language, with little Emiliia, living on a tighter family budget, totally changing their lifestyle, in the middle of a pandemic has been a big challenge all round. They liken it to a roller coaster of emotions. In addition to that, the lack of detailed information about what they were stepping into also worked against them, since they didn’t have a clear picture of the difficulties that they would be facing when they arrived here. However, during this adventure they have met many people who have lifted them up and tried to be there to help the family adapt to this new way of being. They told us that oftentimes when they have just met someone for the first time, that the next day they receive an invitation to have dinner at their homes. It’s thanks to these warm, welcoming people that they have learned more about Korean culture, and are now busy creating new memories with their new found friends.
Vira: We have been fortunate to meet great people who have helped us settle in. On top of that, people have been open to welcoming us into their lives. Also many Koreans, when they see me with Emiliia, very kindly approach me and offer their help. On one occasion, there was a light drizzle and I was walking outside with Emiliia, a car stopped (we didn’t know the people in it) and a woman got out to offer me an umbrella. It seemed like such a very kind gesture on her part and there are many more stories like this, about people who have been really kind to us.
Another factor that they find hard about being in Korea is the limited time that they have to spend together as a family. Iegor tells us that studying for a PhD is very demanding, but they always try to make quality time together and they treasure these moments.
On many occasions, Vira comes to the school with Emiliia to have lunch with Iegor, so that they can have some family time. The most extraordinary thing of all is the time that Emiliia has with Iegor. Father and daughter practice Hapkido together, a Korean martial art. It’s abundantly clear that Emiliia is already Iegor’s Grandmaster!
As a final note, the Vyshnevskyi family adds that, if someone aspires to improve themselves and follow their dreams of studying abroad, they should be in no doubt that it will be a challenging experience. Equally, however, they add that you must keep an open mind towards everything. It will be an exciting adventure that will unite you more than ever as a family, a shared experience that you can all be proud of and that you will look back on and remember forever.
Iegor: Despite all the many challenges, I’m so happy to have this experience with my wife and daughter beside me, and to have the opportunity to follow my dreams, our dreams.