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I am from Kharkiv in Ukraine, which is mostly Russian speaking, as it is close to the border. The city centre was destroyed early in the conflict, so I moved to live with relatives in Dnipro. I have friends and family still in Ukraine, but fortunately they are all okay. My old school is still open, although it had to change location to keep everyone safe from attack.
Last year, I made the long journey to the UK with my mother. My father couldn’t come because of martial law, preventing men of a certain age from leaving the country. He has not been mobilized, but I know many people who have fought, including the geography teacher at my old school.
When we arrived in the UK, we stayed with a host family, and they had connections with Christ’s Hospital. They told us about its ethos and the scholarship opportunities it offered. I applied and took an exam, and fortunately was accepted, joining in the Third Form. My school in Ukraine was good, but nothing like as big as CH. Education is different in many ways. In Ukraine, pupils stay in one room and teachers come to us, and they don’t teach subjects like chemistry and physics until children are older, so catching up has been a challenge. Also, English is my third language, after Ukrainian and Russian, although I have picked it up quite well, with lots of support from people at the school.
I thought about joining as a day pupil, but decided there were more opportunities as a boarder. The school community has been very welcoming, and people want to talk to me about Ukraine. I go home every weekend to see my mum, who is working as a lecturer. We have our own place in Horsham, which is a cosy place to live, with lots of shops, cafés and restaurants.
The uniform was very strange at first! It’s nice in winter as it keeps you warm, but it can be very hot in summer. Some of the sports are new to me too, as we don’t play rugby and cricket in Ukraine. I do my best, although football is still my favourite. I also love music. My mum wanted me to learn an instrument, but I noticed everyone seemed to choose the same things, like piano and guitar. Then I saw a bassoon in Chapel, and it was so big! I knew straight away it was the instrument for me!