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TNMU Mentor Project Helps International Students to Better Adjust to a New Way of Life

Mentoring programs are available in all European universities to help freshmen adjust to the learning process and harmoniously integrate into the student family. They take special care of international students. For example, in German universities there are volunteer projects Buddy Programm (“buddy” means “a friend”). Any student can become a mentor from the third year of study. The mentor helps to adjust to the new place, understand how the university works, and quickly get used to the new environment. Mentors help with finding housing, filling out questionnaires, mastering the language of their country, accompany newcomers to various authorities.

For every European university, a mentoring program is a matter of prestige. The quality and level of organization of such projects is assessed by the International Student Barometer rating. This is an independent study aimed at finding out how satisfied international students are with the university they study at. More than 200 universities around the world have these programs. Universities that support mentoring programs, as a rule, are the first in this rating. For their part, universities support and stimulate students’ desire to be mentors. For example, the best ones get certificates of specialists in intercultural communication, recommendations from the management of the university etc.

The mentoring program in Ternopil National Medical University was launched three years ago. During this time, it has been successfully implemented and performs the intended tasks. Freshmen adjust more harmoniously into the educational process, and international students – to life in Ukraine.

Mohammad Sajjad Khan (Group 441), a student of the International Students Faculty, shared his mentoring experience.

– Why did you decide to become a mentor for freshmen?

– I was a first-year student a few years ago and I know how important it is to have support to better adjust. I wanted to share my experience that I have gained at the university and Ukraine for four years of studies. I was sure that it would help others avoid many of my mistakes. If all this is useful, I will willingly be a mentor until the end of my studies at TNMU.

– What experience did you manage to share?

– In my communication with younger students, I focused on the peculiar features of studying at our university, the code of conduct, the importance of respect for university professors and other employees. I also told them about the Ukrainians’ mentality, the traditions of the city of Ternopil and people living there, the climate and the main laws of Ukraine, which they must abide.

– What problems do first-year students face?

– In my opinion, the main problems for every foreigner who comes to another country for the first time are always the following:

1) How to adapt to a different climate? Basic life skills in the climatic conditions of Ukraine, what clothes you need to wear, what food they can consume, how to move around the city, what transport to use.

2) Since their main goal is learning, students want to get recommendations on how best to organize their study schedule, from what sources to get the necessary information, what are the additional courses for self-development.

3) For those who live in dormitories, it is important to adjust to the new way of life in such apartments and be able to solve all their problems independently and timely.

All students come here alone and are left out of the comfort of their families, they expect some emotional support and motivation that can make their lives easier in a new environment. I believe that sincere support is very important for all freshmen.

– What are your expectations for the mentoring project?

– I hope that my time will be useful for those who really need it, so I always try to spread the positive, self-belief and motivation to people around me.

– How do you keep in touch with your group?

– Usually, we meet together and have a conversation. It is much easier and better for me to understand their needs. In addition, I created a group in WhatsApp, so we are in contact all the time.

– What would you advice to all project participants?

– I believe that even small efforts can make a deal. All mentors should have good intentions, dedication and honesty.

TNMU spokeswoman Yanina Chaikivska

Photos by Mohammed Sajjat Khan