“In a situation like this, you’re on your own. You’ve got to find the best way to find refuge for yourself,” said Percy Ohene-Yeboah, a Ghanian engineering student, who is one of the thousands trying to escape the war in Ukraine.

What was meant for immigrant students as a cost-effective alternative to studying in the United States or Western Europe has turned into a war zone as the Russian military launched the biggest European invasion of another nation since World War Two.

As the bombings occurred students had two options, run or find shelter, and for many of those students running wasn’t an option. With flights grounded, African governments are struggling to support their students. The students Reuters spoke to said they had had no help from home.

“It’s now that the reality is really hitting me,” said Ohene-Yeboah. “I think for me it’s a bit too late for evacuation and all those things.”

When the bombings began near the capital Kyiv on Thursday morning, a group of medical students from Kenya decided to flee. They have been in communication with officials of the Kenyan government, but they still must find their own way out of Ukraine.

The students rushed to Kyiv’s train station on Friday morning in the hope of boarding a train to Lviv. Then there, they must continue to Poland to finally get on a plane to return home. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, a spot onboard the train is not guaranteed.

“It is really, really bad. Everyone is fleeing the city,” said one of the medical students, who asked not to be named.

She and her colleagues brought nothing with them in the rush, only vital documents.

“We can’t carry luggage. Luggage will make us lag behind.”