A Ukrainian student has thanked Ryukoku University for providing her with the opportunity to study Japanese as an international student at the school in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward after she was evacuated from her war-torn homeland.

"I am grateful for the help I have received in this difficult time," Roksolana Oleksyuk, a fourth-year student at Kyiv University, said during a visit to Ryukoku University on May 13. "I want to lead a normal life in Kyoto where I can laugh freely and have fun with my friends."

The 22-year-old from Ternopil, western Ukraine, lived in a student dormitory at Kyiv University and was studying Japanese, but she was forced to move to a relative's house in western Poland in late February when Russia invaded.

Students holding Ukrainian national flags welcome Roksolana Oleksyuk's arrival at Ryukoku University's Fukakusa campus in Kyoto on May 13, 2022

Although unfamiliar with the Polish language, Oleksyuk said that while there, she volunteered to help children who had also been evacuated from Ukraine. Oleksyuk enrolled as an exchange student at Ryukoku University in 2021 but was unable to come to Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She was finally able to come to Kyoto on May 5 after receiving an offer from the university. She lives in an international student dormitory and will study Japanese while also attending online classes at Kyiv University. Oleksyuk said her future goal is to be a translator and she wants to help "develop cultural relations between Japan and Ukraine."

Ukrainian evacuee Roksolana Oleksyuk is pictured at Ryukoku University's Fukakusa campus in Kyoto on May 13, 2022.

She revealed, however, that she was of two minds about leaving her parents. Worried about the danger to her mother and father and friends, she said she messages them every day.

"I want the war to be over soon and be able to go back to Ukraine," she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

Oleksyuk's study period here is one year, but it can be extended. Ryukoku University will exempt tuition and rent and provide a monthly scholarship of 80,000 yen. A support network created by Kyoto and private organizations has provided her with 100,000 yen for living costs. As of May 13 there were 15 evacuees from Ukraine staying in Kyoto, according to the city.

The Kyoto Shimbun

Related coverage:

Japan's Kyoto University to host Ukrainian students affected by war

Clone of a legendary plum tree in Kyoto blossoms after years of tissue-culture efforts

Works from Thailand, China, Israel among manga displayed at Kyoto museum