6 JANUARY 2017
It is already one in the morning when I meet with Valeriya. The future lawyer has to study for one of her final exams and kindly asked if I could interview her while she revised. I obviously accepted her request.
As I walk into the ground floor (the place where we agreed to meet), I can’t help but notice the absolute silence. I open the door and I see her, sitting by herself. However, she doesn’t seem lonely as she’s surrounded by a tremendous amount of books. I greet her and ask how the study is going, to what she answers “it is going, and that’s what matters”, which is followed by some laughter.
Valeriya Yakovleva has always been a very positive and outgoing person, mostly because life taught her to be like that. Moving from Ukraine to Portugal when she was only 4 years old made her world torn apart. When I ask her how it was when she first arrived, she says it was “The worst time of my life. I would cry every single day. I hated everything and everyone. Not that I wanted to go back to Ukraine, don’t get me wrong, I liked Portugal, I just think I got a little bit in shock when I got face-to-face with my new reality.” But this didn’t stop the 18-year-old from trying to have a happy life. She now even confesses “I feel more Portuguese than Ukrainian, but I mean, once you go Slav you never go Chav, right?”
As we dig deeper into her past, Valeriya admits having wanted to be a singer, a doctor and then a writer. However, the rockstar lifestyle seemed to be her favourite. “Singing was and will always be a part of my life,” she says “but when I was younger I thought I was actually going to become one. I had one million dreams, but singing was my biggest one.”
Despite dreaming of tour vans and big venues, her life took a different route. When applying to university, she had to choose between her dreams and her goals. She sorted out her priorities and settled into the law life. Being a member of the European Youth Parliament helped her realise how giving her time to help others was for her, a bigger deal than giving a concert. She grew a passion for the English legal system and so decided that London would be her final destination, at least for now.
It is already 3.45 am when we both decide to end the conversation and go home. With that being, I ask her how it feels to follow a completely different path to what everyone (including herself) were expecting, to what she replies “It’s never easy for anyone, especially for us millennials. We are the generation who has been raised under the mantra of “follow your dreams” and constantly told we’re special. Things don’t always go according to plan and we have to deal with that. We have to learn to accept change.”