Blog: How Ukrainian youth study law in times of war
March 23, 2023

Blog: How Ukrainian youth study law in times of war

On 24 February 2023, Ukraine marked the anniversary of its fight for freedom and resistance against an unprovoked russian full-scale military invasion. It was a year, which has completely changed the lives of millions of Ukrainians and forced them to adjust to the present conditions. To show how young people deal with some of the war-related difficulties, this article will focus on the education of the youth in times of war. Young European Ambassadors from Ukraine, Iryna Osmirko and Yaroslav Morozov will share their stories of studying law since 24 February 2022 and how it impacted their life.

Both Iryna and Yaroslav are students of Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, which is located in Kharkiv, a city that has been under fierce bomb attacks by the russian army for more than a year now. Their stories, however, are different, and each of them is special in its own way: Iryna was forced to escape the constant bomb attacks and move abroad where she started Erasmus+ academic mobility international exchange program at Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic), and Yaroslav continued studying law in Ukraine and managed to succeed despite the ongoing missile attacks and electricity blackouts.

Iryna Osmirko, Young European Ambassador in Ukraine

From Kharkiv to Brno: how Erasmus+ helped me to continue studying law

Iryna Osmirko, Young European Ambassador in Ukraine:

After facing the war at home on 24 February 2022, I entered a completely new stage of my life, which also affected such a sphere as studying. I was forced to go abroad due to the missile and air attacks. My immediate thoughts abroad were about finding opportunities to continue studying and working.

With only a year left to complete my Bachelor’s degree in International Law at Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, I started reaching out to universities worldwide. 

After some time, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University announced a grant competition for the Erasmus+ ICM program at Masaryk University with a tuition fee exemption and scholarship, which fully covered the cost of living. I applied for the grant and was selected for the program, the language of teaching was English, but I took free Czech courses as well for integration. 

Starting my studies at Masaryk University, I was both excited and anxious, because the educational system was different from the Ukrainian one. It was necessary to choose the disciplines, properly arrange the schedule, get the necessary number of credits, and draw up learning agreements, taking into account the academic differences. I attended two courses online at my Ukrainian university and five at Masaryk University on the spot, with a focus on human rights. I also tried a new field of international investment law, which was not a subject of my curriculum in Ukraine. The studies had no seminars, just interactive lectures and such a format was much easier and more interesting. We worked on interesting assignments, reviewed case law, played Moot Court, and voted for the “court decisions” by majority like in a Chamber of 7 judges of the European Court of Human Rights. The professors provided us with up-to-date and exclusive materials before the classes that were very useful for our studies. All the topics and the issues that were raised for discussion were relevant in the current times, we studied the most relevant case law. 

Iryna Osmirko, Young European Ambassador in Ukraine

In addition to the quality approach to teaching, the Erasmus program gives the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, broaden horizons, learn a lot more about foreign jurisdictions and legislation, and just help to make friends around the world. My groupmates were from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, and other countries. I received valuable support from people from different parts of the world, each of whom expressed their concerns and asked if they can help me or Ukrainians in general, which made me understand that the whole world supports Ukraine. 

In conclusion, the Erasmus Program at Masaryk University gave me an opportunity to continue my studies despite the difficulties. I improved my English, made friends, and gained valuable knowledge and support. In turn, I showed that the Ukrainian youth are strong, motivated, educated, and determined in spite of the difficulties. I am grateful that such opportunities are absolutely achievable. This program has given me a chance not to stand still, but to develop further.

Yaroslav Morozov, Young European Ambassador in Ukraine

Studying law in Ukraine: how to stay focused during missile attacks and electricity blackouts

Yaroslav Morozov, Young European Ambassador in Ukraine:

After the launch of the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine a year ago, it was difficult for me, as well as for all my peers, to concentrate on studying and continue this process properly. My first priority was providing volunteer assistance to people in need by fundraising and distributing humanitarian aid supplies, reaching out to my friends and colleagues from foreign universities to raise their awareness about military attacks against peaceful Ukrainian cities. 

After a while, despite the ongoing hostilities, the studying process was renewed at my university in the online format. Although it was still challenging to focus on education, I was mesmerized by the courage of my university professors and staff who demonstrated their strong mental resilience during classes and continued teaching us in such extraordinary conditions. I realised that by receiving a high-quality education here in Ukraine, I am becoming a part of the future of my country, especially during the rebuilding stage that will be needed after the victory. Moreover, after my country was granted EU candidate status in June 2022, I became even more motivated to study and improve my knowledge in various fields of law since it would be essential to contribute to the European integration processes.

However, the full-scale invasion caused more challenges for the lives of ordinary Ukrainians since russia started to attack civilian infrastructure all over Ukraine. During autumn-winter of 2022, massive missile strikes and drone attacks deprived Ukrainians of electricity, heat and water supplies for days or even weeks. Everyone had to adjust to these extreme conditions as it was a cold period of time already. The work process was forcefully interrupted for lots of people because of the power outages caused by the attacks and the studying process became complicated too.

If you are a student, you would hardly imagine a situation where your wi-fi is not working, your laptop’s battery is off and can’t be recharged because of an electricity blackout at your house. This became a reality for all Ukrainian students and at some point, we started to treat it as an ordinary thing that you have to deal with. Very often, I had to run around Kyiv in search of free spots in coffee shops or supermarkets in order to charge my phone and laptop and catch some internet to complete university assignments on time (in fact, each place was full of students with laptops who were studying). At these moments, you start to understand that current difficulties are not an obstacle to education and self-development. On the contrary, this is a moment when you catch your focus and motivation knowing that with such a mental approach, Ukraine will prevail. This mental attitude helped me not only to succeed during my studies but also to continue my civic engagement activities and contribute to the development of my community.

In summary, it should be said that all Ukrainian students, either in Ukraine or abroad, are facing challenging times because of the war against Ukraine. Despite the various difficulties, they continue to study and prepare themselves to work for the future of their country. A big tribute in this regard should be paid to international partner universities that hosted students who were forced to leave Ukraine and especially to all Ukrainian teachers and professors who continue to prepare the younger generation for the bright future of the country.

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