UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Artur Podsokha

Meet Artur from Ukraine. He's currently studying Politics, Sociology and East European Studies at UCL having completed the UPC.

Photograph of Artur stood in front of a wall

What’s your background?

I come from the second largest city in Ukraine — Kharkiv, where I lived until 2021. It is a beautiful city with unique modernist architecture and is considered to be the student capital of Ukraine because of the number of universities there.

My school was the best in my city, called Kharkiv University Lyceum, where we had teaching staff from V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University (KNU).

Even though all subjects were interesting, my heart belonged to three subjects:

  • Ukrainian History, which was taught by the head of the Department of History at KNU
  • Archeology, because my teacher was my headmaster and he worked as a head of archaeological expedition of Genoese city Cembalo in Crimea until 2014
  • German language, which I still do with my high school teacher, who is one of the leaders of Goethe-Institut programme called ‘Schools of the future’, which is funded and curated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

Why did you choose to study UPC at UCL?

I decided to join UPC because one of my aims, since I was a child, was to study in the United Kingdom, as it’s one of the best countries in the world for education and in general.

When I started researching entry requirements for university, I saw that Ukrainian High School Diploma is not enough to enrol directly for an undergraduate degree, so I needed to do A-Levels, IB or a foundation course. I knew that there weren’t any schools in my city that offered an IB course, so my parents and I decided that I would have to join a foundation year.

I chose UCL because I loved the atmosphere at the open days back in 2019, and obviously — UCL constantly has a place in the Top 10 Universities of the world (QS World University Rankings 2024), which is definitely a very attractive factor and proves that UCL is not only one of the best universities in London, but one of the best in the whole world.

What course do you study now and what is it like?

Currently, I study Politics, Sociology and East European Studies course at SSEES (the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies). It’s a wonderful course where you can learn many interesting things simultaneously.

What is more exciting for me is that all of our subjects are mainly based on Eastern Europe, the region where I am from. However, it might sometimes be challenging to cope with the workload, as you need to engage in each subject deeply and do many readings not just regarding your topics, but about the history of Eastern Europe in general. I have written a more detailed blog about my course and department.

How has the UPC helped you in your degree?

The UPC helped me with my degree incredibly.

First of all, the UPC improved my level of English by making it sound and look more academic, which is crucial during your undergraduate degree.

Secondly, it helped me understand how the university works from the inside, which is paramountly helpful for me, as before UPC, I had never studied abroad and had little idea about what are the requirements for students and what the teaching process is like.

And last but not least, my personal tutor helped me to adapt to life in London, as it’s a massive and exciting city, so he helped me in exploring it safely and without harm for my studies. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your time on the UPC and how did you overcome it?

I faced a few challenges during my wonderful time on the UPC. I think one of the major ones is meeting all the criteria and deadlines, as it is more complex than it may seem at first glance.

Another factor that was hard for me was mixing my studies with my social life. I really loved London when I visited as a tourist, and in the first months, it was hard to adapt here and realise that I was not a tourist anymore, but a student at one of the most prestigious universities, so it was quite hard to manage all the fun that London can offer with my studies.

Also, in the middle of the second term, Russia invaded Ukraine, and it brought me a significant amount of stress, so it was hard to focus on my studies at that time. However, all of these difficulties were overcome with the help of the UPC team, as programme administrators, course leaders and my personal tutors were very supportive and gave advice in any situation that occurred.

What advice would you give to future UPC students?

I would love to give a few pieces of advice to future UPC students.

The first one is you need to fully understand where you are going and what your aim is. The UPC is a demanding course, however, it is entirely manageable if you know why you are here, what your aim is regarding your future studies, and you are ready to study hard.

Secondly, I would advise you to read as much as possible for your optional subjects, as it will make your life easier on the course because you will come with some preparation already and the course will not seem alien to you.

And the last piece of advice is always to leave some place for fun — as I said earlier London is a place which offers so many activities for everyone, it’s totally inclusive and loves everyone, so you have to enjoy it, and leave at least one day a week when you will have rest from your studies and just enjoy your time here. 

What is it like to live and study in London?

Living in London, to be honest, is a dream. It was, it is, and it will always be one of the most major cities on our planet. It will definitely impress you with its greatness and beauty, even though there might be some minuses that you can easily avoid.

I’ve been to many cities in Europe and I can say that London is very different from them, it’s literally one of a kind, as it has everything from every culture; only here you may find a Ukrainian church, Japanese restaurant and an authentic British Pub on one street in the heart of Mayfair. For me, London is a place where you can fully express yourself and write your own history and remember where you came from at the same time. 

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

Despite the studies, UCL offers many exciting things to do. The first thing that I really loved was the poster sale that happens annually in the Main Quad, where you may find many great options for decorating your place.

Also, there were interesting traditions during holidays, such as the UPC Christmas Carol concert before Christmas, where tutors performed traditional British carols, and the ceremony of switching on the Christmas lights near the Main Building.

There is an amazing Students' Union where you may find a society about every possible thing. They even have Taylor Swift society for all Swifties, which hosts incredible parties where everyone sings hits such as Blank Space or Anti-Hero.

There are many nation-societies; for example, I joined Ukrainian society and visited many interesting lectures and traditional events. We even met the Ukrainian ambassador and talked through a video call with President Zelensky at UCL. I fell in love with Ukrainian society and became a Communications Manager for the Year 2022/23.

How is the UK education system different to your home country?

I strongly believe that the UK and Ukrainian education systems are entirely different.

In Ukraine, students have to learn many things at once. For example, I had 12 compulsory subjects in high school. Also, we had to learn many compulsory things, so there was little possibility to study something more than the programme of the course, and as I know from my friends, the situation in universities is pretty similar — they do not have much freedom regarding the choice of their studying material.

Here, in the United Kingdom and at UCL, you can study almost whatever you want, and take modules even from different departments, so you may find the best approach for you and do your degree in a way you feel most comfortable.

Where did you live during the UPC, and how was your experience?

During the UPC, I rented an apartment and lived alone. Some students may find that boring and choose to live in a student accommodation block or to share an apartment with friends. Still, as I really enjoy my privacy, an entirely private place of living is the best option for me. Living alone helps me to concentrate better on my studies and manage my time better because there are no distractions as parties or gatherings, that can last very long.

Of course, as a very socially active person, I attended many events, parties and hangouts with my friends, but my apartment is a place where I can relax and focus on my studies whenever I needed and wanted to.

Where is your favourite place on campus and why?

The UCL campus is incredibly huge, so there are a lot of places that I genuinely love. Hence, I would like to highlight two of them.

The first one, which might be a bit typical for a UCL student, is the Student Centre. I believe this is the best place to study with friends in a relaxed atmosphere and have enjoyable breaks on the terrace or in the café.

But, if I want to concentrate only on my studies, I always choose SSEES Library. It has a really interesting design, and in comparison to the Main Library, it’s pretty modern and relaxed, so whenever I study there, I feel like I study at home while listening to some of my favourite music.