A refugee who fled the war in Ukraine and will now take up a place to study chemistry at University College London says he is “incredibly grateful” for the help he has received since coming to the UK.
Grisha Sheldunov, 18, arrived in England in April and attended Brighton College in East Sussex.
He did not sit A-levels but had already started his first year of university in Ukraine, so with help and support from college staff he was able to accept a place to study chemistry at UCL.
Mr Sheldunov said he found his interest in the subject during his 10th year of education, and thanked Brighton College staff for their help in applying to university as the deadline for applications had already passed when he moved to England.
He will move to London on Saturday before starting his first year of university in September.
He said: “Lots of people wanted to help me, it was quite surprising as we didn’t have this sort of help available in Ukraine, the culture is different.
“I was surprised by how willing everyone is to help and everyone has been so friendly.
“A lot of people ask me what I want to do once I graduate, but it’s hard for me to know what I’ll be doing in a month.
“I can’t say what I’m hoping for in the next three or four years except that I want to continue doing things I like and I hope doing those things will help my country at some point – although I can’t think of how exactly I will do it, but it will be great to help people.”
Mr Sheldunov describes himself as an introvert, but says it was easier than he expected to adjust to life in the UK – and he hopes to return to Ukraine one day.
His father, grandparents and many of his friends are still in Ukraine, while he came to England with his mother and younger brother.
He said: “Changing what I was used to was hard, but if you don’t have a choice you don’t think about being introverted. It wasn’t that hard because a lot of people here are nice and wanted to help me, so that introverted part was easy to ignore.
“I’d wanted to go to England for some time so moving to London will be really exciting.
“As far as I know the educational system is quite different here to Ukraine so I’m excited to explore this new system and meet a lot of people who are interested in the same things as I am.
“I have friends and relatives in Ukraine and my home is there, so of course I would love to go back and I would love to help in rebuilding Ukraine when things are more normal again.
“I would love to use the things I learn here – that’s the beauty of education in different parts of the world, you can then help people in your home.”