A love of medicine that is stronger than war

January 16, 2024

In winter 2021, Valeriia Andrieieva found out that her long-held dream of studying medicine at LMU would at last come true in the next summer semester. Amid the chaos of war, not even her parents were able to help her – understandably. At her university in Ukraine, Valeriia also headed the Standing Committee on Medical Education, which is part of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations. Since her parents’ plans to support her financially have been thwarted by the war, Valeriia has to pay her own way in a foreign country. She cannot yet say whether she will return to Ukraine when the war one day comes to an end.

The line between joy and sadness is sometimes a slender one. In winter 2021, Valeriia Andrieieva found out that her long-held dream of studying medicine at LMU would at last come true in the next summer semester. Then Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine broke out in February 2022. At the time, the now-24-year-old was living in Kharkiv, close to the Russian border, so she and her family had to flee the bombs and take refuge in the west of the country. “At least I already knew that I had a place in Munich where I could continue to lead my life,” she says. Notwithstanding, Valeriia had naturally always imagined beginning her studies under completely different circumstances. Now she had to deal with shock at the onslaught, fears for the people back home and countless bureaucratic obstacles as the authorities found themselves inundated with refugees from war. Amid the chaos of war, not even her parents were able to help her – understandably. “Normally, they would have come to visit me at this time,” the young student says. But neither has she been able to go home for a visit in the meantime. “It is simply too dangerous.”

Is it even possible for her to concentrate on her studies under such circumstances? That, the LMU student insists, is no problem. “I love medicine too much,” she smiles. There are quite simply so many fascinating topics she wants to learn about. Obviously, there are times – such as when the Kakhovka Dam was destroyed and caused severe flooding – when she is so upset by the dreadful news that she is simply unable to learn. “But it is easier if you love what you are doing,” she says with a resolute voice.

Medicine has always been Valeriia’s passion. No sooner had she earned her entrance qualification to higher education than she signed up at the National University of Medicine in Kharkiv. From that time on, dreaming of being able to study in Germany because of the excellent medical tuition provided, she began to learn the language. She opted for LMU not just because it leads the field in terms of research and resources, but also because of the quality of the lecturers. “I want to become a good doctor,” she explains, “so it is only logical that I want to learn from the best.”

Her burning desire is to help people. During her studies in Ukraine, she therefore volunteered as Vice President of the local Rotaract Club, the youth arm of the Rotary Club. The club’s members look after young cancer patients in hospital, for example, when work commitments mean that their parents are unable to do so. At her university in Ukraine, Valeriia also headed the Standing Committee on Medical Education, which is part of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations. In this capacity, she devoted herself to issues such as advocating better medical training during and after courses of study – for example by organizing a project to improve the English language skills of budding doctors.

Despite such adversity circumstances, Valeriia continues to help people from her home country even here in Munich: providing translations, writing official letters and helping with visits to doctors, for example. “Everything is so complicated if you don’t understand what is going on,” she stresses. At the same time, she remains in regular contact with the organizations in Kharkiv, writing e-mails or calling the people who are still there. Last year, she even attended a Rotary event in Vienna, where a variety of aid projects for Ukraine were drafted.

Since her parents’ plans to support her financially have been thwarted by the war, Valeriia has to pay her own way in a foreign country. She is therefore hugely grateful for the support provided at LMU by her Germany Scholarship. Thanks to this funding, she does not have to cut corners on either her studies or her social commitments. “It is also helping to make me a better doctor,” she adds. She cannot yet say whether she will return to Ukraine when the war one day comes to an end. Nothing is certain: “No one knows what tomorrow will bring.”