Talking to German news outlet DW about his experience, British medical student Shinga Chikura said he thought his plight to become a doctor was “over” when the war started.
“I tried to apply in many countries — even in England, France, Germany — and they all said that they could only allow me to start in first year,” he recalled.
“I began to think that all my time in Ukraine had been wasted.”
However, in southeastern Serbia at the University of Nis, the institution had begun to accept credits from Ukrainian universities. The university has a medical course in English available to the students at the cost of 5,500 euros a year – higher than some European destinations, but the price is offset by the low cost of living.
Chikuraa was one of around 170 medical students to first make the transfer to the University of Nis.
One of its professors in gynaecology and obstetrics, Milan Trenkic, said that the students who have since transferred have perhaps “brought something with them” from their time in Ukraine.
“I thought… my time in Ukraine had been wasted”
“They really expect a lot of themselves – and of us, too. Above all, they want our full attention,” he said.
Another student who was affected by the invasion was Saudi Arabian student Shireen Rahmani. Before being able to flee Ukraine, she experienced the horrors of the war itself.
“It was honestly a very frightening, scary period of my life,” she said.
“Because even after the whole situation when I came home, for days I had PTSD. Even now when I hear fireworks, the first thing on my mind is, ‘I hope it’s just fireworks, I hope it’s not bombardment’,” she explained.
She had been reviewing a move to Serbia before the war broke out, but the invasion made the decision for her – and while she still has reservations about tensions between Serbia and its neighbour country Kosovo (a peace deal was tentatively agreed on February 7), she maintained it was the right one.
“They really helped me – and not just with university matters, but also finding accommodation and adjusting to life in Serbia. That did me a lot of good,” she said.
Chikura has now spent over 10 months in Serbia, and was relieved to have only lost a year of his course, as opposed to the five he could have studying somewhere else.
The institution has reportedly seen a big jump in the number of applications since war broke out in Ukraine and Trenkic said that the students have taken extremely well to the adjustment.
“If they don’t understand something linguistically, they immediately check on their tablets. Luckily, medical terms the world over are in Latin,” Trenkic added.