I often get asked when and how did I leave Ukraine. I told this story many times. But it was such a long time ago - almost 13 years from the moment I write this - that I get this question less and less and my memories are starting to change and I don’t remember it as crispy anymore.
So I will write it down. That is why writing is so great.
So the year is 2010. I am at my last year of my university program. I think it is sometime around the March or April. I have been working part time as software engineer for 2.5 years. I live in Kharkiv - which is east of Ukraine.
Few things are going through my mind in parallel. 2.5 years at my first job seems enough, I just finished one incredible project for Ukrainian Aerospace Agency. I feel ready for something new. Also the idea of living abroad and learning about new countries excited me a lot.
At the same time Viktor Yanukovich won Presidential election. I felt terrible. In the region where I lived most people I knew supported him and I felt isolated. I was 22 at the time. I was thinking back then that with such support he would probably be Ukrainian President for two terms - which is 10 years. My mind drawn very dark picture for me - not until I turn 32 there would start to be a progress in my home country. When you are 22 being 32 feels like an eternity away.
Obviously in retrospect I was wrong. I didn’t expect Revolution to happen in less than 4 years. This was mostly due to the fact that I didn’t have open minded and progressive people in my environment. There were plenty of them elsewhere - I just didn’t know about their existence. If I was asked to replay the thing I would probably just go to Kyiv or Lviv in 2010 and meet all the young people who had similar ideas and outlook.
Anyway. So it’s April 2010. I start thinking of going to live and work abroad. I think I've sent resume to one company in Denmark - I loved reading their blog and gave it a shot. At the same time I also decided to go on a short vacation abroad - one week trip to Montenegro in May. So the idea hit me - open LinkedIn and search for companies there. I probably found 5 companies and did send emails to all of them asking if they need software engineer. One company replied and we agreed that I will come for an interview in person while I am on my vacation.
So that is exactly what happened. I went to Montenegro to rest for a bit, took one day from my vacation and hopped on a bus to Podgorica - Montenegrin capital - where I had an interview.
I think they liked me immediately and send me a message that they want to hire me. I told them I need to come back to Kharkiv to finish my university and get my diploma. So I came back to Kharkiv, got my master diploma in June, finished with my job in July and on Aug 1 I came back to Montenegro ready to start a new chapter in my life.
That is it. It was very simple. Got an idea to work abroad and executed it in a very relaxed way in the background.
I also want to highlight - I didn't go to Montenegro for money or career development. I rarely optimize for those things in my life. In fact I earned 33% less money in Montenegro than in Kharkiv. Also in Kharkiv I had a clear career path and was promised many exciting things by my former company.
However the decision was very easy to made. I felt excitement. And whenever I feel that I try to follow and chase it.