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‘I feel in love with this country from the first day’ says Ukrainian student

A UKRAINIAN medical student spending a semester at Swansea as part of a new partnership with her home university has said she fell in love with this country from her first day and thanked both universities for making the visit possible.

Mariia Hryhorian is from Mykolaiv, a port city of around 470,000 people in southern Ukraine which has been under frequent attack since Russian forces invaded the country in February 2022.

Her home university is Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University (PMBSNU) in Mykolaiv, which has recently signed a partnership agreement with Swansea University. The agreement will lead to joint research, as well as opportunities for staff and students from PMBSNU to spend time in Swansea. Mariia is amongst the first group of students to benefit from the new partnership.

Mariia studies medicine in Ukraine, including gynecology, surgery, paediatrics and infectious diseases. During her time at Swansea University she is following courses in the Medical School, including: pharmacology; pharmacogenomics, genes and drugs; and communications for medical scientists.

Currently in her sixth year of studies, Mariia has a particular interest in reproductive medicine and hopes to be a gynecologist, specializing in areas such as IVF, which she describes as “the future of medicine.”

Asked about her impressions since starting her studies at Swansea, Mariia Hryhorian said:

“I am very surprised how big the University is and what a friendly team they are. I like the education system at Swansea University. I enjoy the fact that the University has modern equipment – I think it is important for future doctors for their work.

I also enjoy that everything is done for the convenience of students, no matter where you are. I am pleasantly surprised by the relationship between teachers and students. They are like one big team. The students can ask for any help and the University will help. I also like how social clubs and trips from the University are organized. I will tell all my friends and advise them to come here to study.”

The new partnership between Swansea University and PMBSNU was signed by the heads of both universities in a coordinated ceremony that took place in Swansea and Mykolaiv. It is the latest example of how Swansea University, in the words of Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle, “stands with the people of Ukraine in defence of their sovereignty, independence, and democratic freedoms.”

Describing the new partnership as “very important”, Mariia said:

“It is a great honour to exchange experience in work and study. I want to thank my university PMBSNU for this opportunity. I also want to thank the Swansea University team for such a warm welcome. I am very pleased that Swansea University supports Ukraine in such a difficult time for us.”

Mariia also revealed the ways in which her Swansea experience – her first visit to the UK – is benefiting her:

“Time spent abroad as part of an exchange student program is a tremendous experience that gives me courage and self-confidence.

This is my first time in Britain and in Wales but I fell in love with this country from the first day. The people are very kind and friendly. Wales has beautiful nature every time you want to travel to learn about the culture. I really like that I live near the sea.

I met very cool doctors and now I have friends from different parts of the world. I also started writing medical articles with doctors from Swansea University.

I enjoy every day I’m here. I am honoured to have the opportunity to live, study and develop in Swansea.”

Professor Lisa Wallace from Swansea University Medical School added:

“We are honoured to be twinned with PMBSNU and are delighted to host Mariia and her fellow students from Ukraine. They are outstanding ambassadors for their country and University.

Colleagues and students from Ukraine have shown incredible resilience and Swansea University is pleased to play a small part in supporting them. We look forward to collaborating with PMBSNU in student mobility and joint academic research, in a partnership that endures beyond the war.”

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