Anastasia Paraskevova recently returned to her home in Kharkiv for the first time since fleeing the city two months ago due to the war.
Paraskevova, who returned with her mother, said she was nervous about going back. Kharkiv, close to the Russian border in northeastern Ukraine, was one of the first cities to come under attack when Russia invaded in February.
It had been subjected to near-constant shelling until Russian forces began retreated in the region.
"I did not know for sure how I will feel when I see the city," she told CNN. "Most devastation was done when I was there, so I knew what to expect. I was seeing videos on my phone of pretty much everything that was destroyed. But seeing it live is entirely different."
Paraskevova said overall the experience was good. "The city was much more alive. People were walking the streets. And some shops were working. It felt like some life was back, much better than it was when I was here in March."
Paraskevova's father had left with the family but returned to Kharkiv before them. Video shows the family reuniting, with hugs and relieved smiles.
"It was really nice to see him after two months. We talked on the phone regularly, but it's the happiest I've heard his voice being in two months. And to see mom and dad reunite was also really special," she said.
I'm just glad to see everyone is okay and together again."
Although her home was spared from the shelling, Paraskevova said seeing her apartment for the first time was not the "feel-good moment" she expected.
"When I was leaving, it felt like a piece of me was left in that apartment. So, I was hoping that this piece will fit into place when I return, but for some reason, it didn't," she said.
"Maybe because I knew I will be going back to Moldova. Or maybe because it will not feel like home until the war ends. My fear is that this feeling of home and security will come back only when I truly know that the war is ended."