Ukrainian exchange student in shock about war in his homeland


Vladyslav Surovyi is one of the nine Ukrainian exchange students currently studying Management & Organisation and Marketing in the Digital Age in year three at Hogeschool Inholland Alkmaar. Marieke van Beurden is a teacher and coordinator of the international exchange students at the Business Studies department in Alkmaar. Marieke asked Vladyslav in an interview to tell us about his personal situation and the situation in Ukraine. 

Vladyslav Surovyi arrived at the end of January 2022 as a Ukrainian exchange student to study Management & Organisation at the Department of Business Studies at Inholland, Alkmaar. He was born in the city of Ternopil in Ukraine where he has lived all his life and where his university is also located. He is an International Management student at the West Ukranian University. Wiep and Jostan, parents of Business Studies teacher Bert de Jong, have been so kind to offer Vladyslav and another Ukrainian student a place to stay. They have been providing housing to Ukrainian students for years now for which Hogeschool Inholland is grateful. Vladyslav emphasises that they have also been of tremendous support. 

Contact with family 
It is extremely hard to focus on his studies since Vladyslav woke up to a bitter reality early Thursday morning on 24 February in Alkmaar when he heard about the Russian invasion in his home country, Ukraine. He was in disbelief and quickly checked social media and found out about the missile attacks in several cities, one of which was close to his home city, Ternopil. Vladyslav: “I hastily grabbed the phone to ring my mother and grandmother living in Ternopil. Their panic and crying made me realise that the unexpected and the incredible had indeed happened. I tried to calm them down and advised them to take their most important belongings and flee to a safer village.” 

Feelings of sadness, anger and powerlessness have gripped me ever since being so far apart from my loved ones, unable to help, support and comfort them.

Extraordinarily strong 
Vladyslav is of the opinion that his country is extraordinarily strong. He mentions that many of his compatriots believe that history is like a circle and that it repeats every time. “Last century we lost this war but now we understand how much it costs us and this time we will fight until the end.” 

Support charities 
He hopes Dutch teachers and students are willing to do whatever is in their power to help the suffering Ukrainian people. Some examples: Donate supplies or money (Giro 555 or other Dutch or Ukranian charity or relief organisations) and spread information concerning this tragic event. If you would like to know more about local initiatives, check out your municipalities' website. Municipal information for Alkmaar can be found on the following website: Alkmaar helpt Oekraïne - Gemeente Alkmaar. Also keep an eye on cultural charity events being organised for Ukraine, (e.g., locations like ‘Hal 25’ in Alkmaar). 

Moral support and talks 
Moreover, the students at the Student Succes Centrum (SSC) at location Alkmaar have indicated they are also willing to help in any way they can. Students can write a supportive card at the SCC that will be delivered to our international exchange students that are affected by this war. Moral support is very much appreciated by them. Vladyslav very much encourages Dutch and international students who would like to know more about the situation to simply come up to and talk to him and the other Ukrainian students. They are eager to explain and answer questions. 

Peace, freedom and democracy come first 
Together with a fellow Ukrainian exchange student, Vladyslav joined one of the anti-war protests in Amsterdam. He comments that peace, freedom and democracy are very important to many Ukrainians and that, in a sense, they are also protecting these values for Western countries like the Netherlands since these values are also essential for and cherished by our society. Vladyslav likes the Dutch lifestyle, and he praises his Dutch teachers for being so open to new ideas. 

If you would like to support our Ukranian students in Alkmaar, please contact Marieke.vanBeurden@inholland.nl