Escaping the war in Ukraine - Elizaveta and Kateryna continue their studies at Aalto University
Earlier this year, Elizaveta was a second-year student of information technology at the Private European University of Kyiv and Kateryna, a first-year student of economic cybernetics at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Ukraine. Then, Russia attacked Ukraine, and everything changed.
Elizaveta and Kateryna now live in Finland and continue their studies at Aalto University, which grants a free study place to at least 40 university students from Ukraine who have fled the war. With the support from donors, Aalto has also given a grant to 17 students to help them cover their living costs during their studies at Aalto.
Elizaveta arrived in Finland with her mother and cats on 14 March. They were able to stay with her mother's friends in Porvoo. Elizaveta started her first courses at Aalto University in May when she moved to Helsinki and rented an apartment.
'When I left Ukraine, I had a change of clothes in the bag, not much more. I’ve received a bed, a chair, and a laptop as donations. I get basic provisions from the assistance centre, and I eat a lot of macaroni,' she says.
At the end of June, she receives the first Aalto University grant of 800 euros per month. It is essential,
‘I'm out of money. It's difficult to focus on studies when you have to worry about how to manage the next month. The rental period for my current apartment expires soon. With the help of the grant, I hope to be able to move to a student apartment in Espoo near the university.’
During the spring, Elizaveta completed her second year of studies at her home university remotely from Finland. She was already studying Finnish in Ukraine, and her language studies are now continuing in Finland. After the Aalto University summer courses, Elizaveta begins separate studies at the School of Electrical Engineering in autumn.
‘I have high expectations about my studies. It’s important to complete a degree. I’m happy that I’ve received a lot of help from Finns - they have been very kind. Many Ukrainians are having a difficult time now and there is a lot of sadness,’ says Elizaveta.
Joining the Aalto University community
When the war began, Kateryna lived with her family in Kyiv and studied at the university of her dreams.
‘When the war started, everything stopped. We were just at home, couldn't do anything, and everything felt so wrong. Finally, my mother and I decided to leave. It was difficult to leave the family and our home - we had no idea what was waiting for us here,’ Kateryna says.
Kateryna and her mother arrived in Finland in mid-March. After hearing about the possibility of completing separate studies at Aalto University, she immediately submitted her application.
‘When I arrived in Finland, everything was uncertain. It seemed crazy to think I should stop studying something I've always dreamed of. I’m very grateful that I can continue my studies at the Aalto University School of Business and become part of the university community here.’
During the spring, Kateryna studied Finnish diligently and, through distance learning, completed her first-year studies at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Ukraine. Aalto University's summer courses begin in July and studies at the School of Business in autumn.
'Aalto University study counsellors have been very nice; they’ve helped me prepare a study plan and make all other arrangements. Until now, I have lived with my mother in an apartment arranged by the Red Cross. Now I am waiting for an apartment in Espoo near the university.’
At the moment, it looks like Kateryna's studies in Finland will last a year. The future afterwards is uncertain.
‘Nobody knows how the situation in Ukraine will change. Right now, I'm adapting to my life in Finland and focusing on my studies. I look forward to getting to know other students and starting my studies in autumn,’ Kateryna says.
Text: Marjukka Puolakka
Your support is still needed
With the support from our donors, we have been able to give 17 students a grant that helps them cover their living costs during their studies at Aalto. The grant is worth EUR 800/month and provides vital financial support during the crisis. However, the need is still great as more university students from Ukraine are forced to flee their homes and arrive in Finland. Give today - help ensure as many students can continue their studies as possible.