Language course for refugees from Ukraine: A ticket to the future

25 Apr 2022

Many Ukrainian refugees have had to abandon their studies because of the war. A first language course for prospective new LMU students has now begun at the university — financed by an LMU fundraising campaign.


The small group of students stands silently, their gaze directed upward to the dome of the atrium, as Susanne Döring-Buchmann from LMU’s International Office tells the story of Sophie and Hans Scholl. They pull cell phones out of their pockets time and again to record what they are seeing.

They are here for the first time today — these students are getting to know their new university, as many freshmen do — with one difference: they have had to leave their homeland because there is a war going on in Ukraine.

One of them is Viktor Kharchenko from Kharkiv. He wants to study veterinary medicine, to become a vet, to save dogs and other animals. The 18-year-old had already started a degree in his hometown, had plans to switch from biology to veterinary medicine, and then the war came. Alina Barabash, who was enrolled in the National Aviation University’s Faculty of Environmental Safety in Kyiv, feels similarly. “I want to study at LMU to continue my degree,” the 21-year-old says, “not necessarily in the field I was in, but maybe biochemistry or immunology.” LMU is a way for her to get closer to graduating. “Plus,” she says, “LMU’s history is moving and it is special.”

The new students are learning more about this history from Susanne Döring-Buchmann and Monique-Claudine Esnouf, who have now organized German lessons at LMU. Financed by the fundraiser for students and academics from Ukraine, the lessons are intended to prepare the Ukrainian refugees for their studies at LMU. The future of the students is very close to their hearts: “We just wanted to support the refugees as quickly as possible so that they can continue their studies,” reports Esnouf. “Many were also just about to embark on a degree — and that’s not possible at the moment either. Since German is essential for most degree courses, we have now started a language course for them.”

For Alina, learning the new language is particularly important; she wants to reach at least C1 level to be able to study in German, and for now she is looking around for courses held in English. Asked if she is excited or anxious about the challenges, her answer is: “Both. Because it’s hard and yet exciting to be here and to start this whole process.” She’s excited, but she’s also a bit anxious about the first coursework deadlines. And Viktor? “I’m very excited. I’ve seen how others study here and I want to see it with my own eyes, not just on the Internet.”

Now the new semester is upon us — a time for new opportunities and challenges at LMU. “But,” says Viktor, “above all, it’s a ticket to the future.”

What are you looking for?