They are different and the same
It is quite difficult to adapt to life at university, especially for foreign students, because they need not only to get used to independence, but also get used to living in a strange country, new culture and mode of life.
At present, about 450 students coming from India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey and Hungary study at the faculties of medicine, dentistry and engineering of Uzhhorod National University. These are boys and girls practicing different denominations of Hinduism, Islam, Catholicism and other religions. Their decision to get the coveted profession in Ukraine, as noted by foreign guests, was based on the cost and quality of education ratio and positive feedback from friends.
Intolerant people are sometimes hostile towards representatives of distant countries because of non-typical for our region appearance and dress. In spite of this, one can often see international groups of friends or couples in the streets. Unfortunately, such relationships cause lots of debates and disapproval of society, therefore boys and girls tend not to advertise their friendship.
One of the reasons why Ukrainians are suspicious of the people from exotic countries is the belief that foreigners can transmit diseases peculiar to their region. This prejudice is disproved by the deputy dean of the medical faculty, Prof. Vasyl Kaliy: "Foreign students annually undergo three stages of medical examination: laboratory diagnostics, X-ray and objective clinical examination. Only then they are allowed to study and stay at university".
At the same time, there is a significant language barrier. In case of emergency foreign guests can not even inform the employees of government agencies because the latter do not speak English. Foreign students also wish to live in one place, because now some of them rent apartments and others live in hotel "Zakarpattya". The management of UzhNU promised to meet students’ wishes, in particular regarding the construction of a hostel for them. In addition, a special office for effective integration of foreigners in university activities has been opened by the student council. In order to deepen their knowledge, get help in writing scientific papers, some foreigners attend a special club functioning on the basis of the department of microbiology, virology and immunology with the course of infectious diseases. Activists are attracted to basketball section to prepare young people for participation in the university sports contest.
Foreign students are encouraged to take part in preparation for entertaining events. They dance and sing. In 2015 an Indian beauty Navrup Kaur Dillon won the contest Miss Medical Faculty and is now preparing for Miss UzhNU contest. She said that she liked the competitive atmosphere at the rehearsals. Her favourite leisure activities are cooking, painting, playing chess and badminton. Her favorite meal in Uzhhorod is chicken shish kebab. The girl says that her religion is Sikhism and she doesn’t forget about the festivals of her native land and celebrates them together with her friends. The official representative of foreign students in UzhNU Amrik Singh Dillon arranges parties to celebrate the greatest Indian festivals, such as Diwali, Holi and Pongal.
Navrup's countryfellow, a fourth-year student Jotkhi Vanan, is the initiator of providing computer services to students from India. According to the young man, opening such facility can help his compatriots, because local experts usually do not speak English. Jotkhi has already got one Ukrainian customer.
It’s not easy for foreign students to adapt to our climate. A citizen of Bangladesh Sumaya Surovi said: "There are different seasons in my country, but heat lasts the longest, so it was quite difficult for me to get used to low temperatures. My favorite place in Uzhhorod is the quay".
An African Gabriele Teknon shared his impressions: "I was born in Zimbabwe, there is almost no winter. Therefore, when it got very cold in Ukraine (I first lived in Lugansk, where winter temperatures declined to -350 C), it was difficult, but I got used to it. In my opinion, Uzhhorod is a beautiful town. The people here are friendly. I like that it is a Christian town like my native one. By the way, I'm from Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, which is better developed than a small and quiet regional center of Transcarpathia, but it’s better for me to study in such place. When we don’t have classes, me and my friend walk around Bozdosh park, play basketball, visit each other, prepare grilled meat. I am a musician; I dance, sing, read rap; I even recorded my own album here. My video will be released in summer".
Foreign students try to get used to new location, lifestyle, learn local traditions and experience Ukrainian national colour. Some people find it easy to get in touch with foreigners, and some, unfortunately, refuse to establish contacts with the representatives of other cultures. We shouldn’t be biased when treating people with exotic appearance, we should help them, for once we can be in their place!