Speaking to German news channel DW about his experience, British medical student Shinga Chikura said he thought his struggle to become a doctor was “over” when the war started.
“I tried to apply in many countries – even England, France, Germany – and they all said they could only allow me to join in my first year,” he recalled.
“I began to think that all my time in Ukraine was wasted.”
However, in southeastern Serbia, at the University of Niš, the institution began accepting credits from Ukrainian universities. The university has a medical course available to students in English at a cost of €5,500 per year – higher than some European destinations, but the price is offset by the low cost of living.
Chikuraa was one of approximately 170 medical students who first transferred to the University of Nishi.
One of its professors of gynecology and obstetrics, Milan Trenkic, said that students who have since transferred may have “brought something back” from their time in Ukraine.
“I thought my time in Ukraine was wasted”
“They really expect a lot from themselves – and from us too. Above all, they want our full attention,” he said.
Another student affected by the invasion was Saudi student Shireen Rahmani. Before she could flee Ukraine, she experienced the horrors of war itself.
“It was honestly a very scary, scary time of my life,” she said.
“Because even after the whole thing, when I got home I had PTSD for a few days. Even now, when I hear fireworks, the first thing on my mind is, ‘I hope it’s just fireworks, I hope it’s not a bombing,'” she explained.
She considered moving to Serbia before the war broke out, but the invasion decided her – and although she still has reservations about tensions between Serbia and its neighboring country Kosovo (a peace deal was tentatively agreed on 7 February), she said it was the one.
“They really helped me – not only with university matters, but also with finding accommodation and adjusting to life in Serbia. That did me a lot of good,” she said.
Chikura has now spent more than 10 months in Serbia and is relieved to have only lost a year of study, as opposed to the five he could have studied elsewhere.
The institution has reportedly seen a big jump in applications since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, and Trenkic said students have received the adjustment very well.
“If they don’t understand something linguistically, they immediately check their tablets. Fortunately, medical terms all over the world are in Latin,” added Trenkic.