Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology
Olena also arrived to Lund directly from the war in Ukraine. Of course, her first weeks in Sweden were strongly characterised by this.
What is your name and your home university?
My name is Olena Orlova and I am a student from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
Please tell us a bit about your home town.
Irpin is located in the Kyiv region, 25 km from it. Before the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine, Irpin was a city with a large number of new buildings and private buildings, often called “City of Parks”. It was a very cozy, quiet city with a bunch of young people, young families. After the full-scale invasion, the city was given the Ukrainian Honorary title, which was assigned for outstanding heroism during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
When did you arrive to Lund? For how long will you be staying?
I arrived in Lund on the 7th of April 2023, if I am nor mistaken. I will definitely be staying until the end of May because I am going to defend my thesis here. After that – I don’t know what the plan is yet.
What are you doing at Lund University?
I am a student of the double degree master’s program in Gender Studies. The Faculty of Sociology from my university has a partnership with Lund University, and before the war, one student from the stream went to Lund on an exchange for one semester. In connection with the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine, the former guarantor of our program organised an emergency trip for the entire academic group. And instead of one semester, we are studying here for the third semester.
How did you experience the first weeks in Sweden?
Of course, everything was like in a fog, decisions were made very quickly about the future, because my hometown was occupied and was under airstrikes and bombardment, so the option to go to Sweden – where you can continue to study according to your own program and have the opportunity to live and receive a scholarship – was the best option. For this, I am very grateful to my teacher Babenko Svitlana for organising the entire process, supporting me in making decisions, and I am grateful to Lund University for providing such an opportunity and to the Swedish government for providing shelter. So the first weeks were very intense, many events, many meetings and acquaintances. For me, such an intensive period was very appropriate because it distracted me from the horror that was happening inside me and the realisation that I might never see my hometown, house, family and friends that I left in Ukraine. All processes related to education, accommodation, scholarships, communication with the Migration Office – everything was organised and clear. I would like to note that great support was also received from my classmates and some teachers. That is, the problems and issues that arose during adaptation were solved collectively and with people who were in the context of the political situation. It was an extraordinary support and understanding.
What are your impressions of Lund as a university city?
My impression is that it is a calm student town. It was spring when I arrived and the city was very green, full of peace, boiling of academic life, and many young people. The hometown was a little reminiscent.
For sure, you would have needed special support in various ways, when coming to Sweden. As regards living and studying in Lund; did you receive a mentor of some kind at Lund University?
We had our own academic adviser. She helped and continues to help in solving certain academic issues. On the housing side, our academic adviser referred us to LU Accommodation, who helped with the housing issue. Everything was well organised and the plan of action was clear. Since we arrived when the semester had already started, we missed all the mentoring activities for “incoming students”. But for the autumn semester we were registered as incoming students and we were involved in all activities. Most of them were unnecessary for me, because I already knew most of the information at that time.
What has been most positive about coming to Lund?
That it is a safe place to stay, I have time to think what to do next in my life. Also the possibility and the understanding that I can finish my studies, and my program.