Student Spotlight

Valeriya Schastlivenko, 39 is a Marketing Manager and businesswoman from Kiev, Ukraine.

Valeriya is currently living in the UK with her daughter Sophie, 14 and her son Rostik, 11 at Queens Park.

Valeriya Schastlivenko.

Valeriya has lots of experience of visiting the UK in the past and attending short summer courses in English and visiting Sophia, who has been attending a boarding school in Ashford, Kent for the last four years.

However, now living in the UK full time and studying Business English at Malvern London has given Valeriya a deeper appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of the English language. Especially when it comes to understanding and using British humour and irony 😊.

Valeriya wants to eventually set up her own business in the UK but doesn’t currently know which sector she will enter. Valeriya feels:

“Bureaucracy was created in the UK. It’s surprising how many forms have to be completed to start anything. The systems are organised and there is purpose behind the paperwork but it sometimes drives me crazy to fill out so many forms.

Compared to my home country I feel that sometimes things are over planned and life is too organised and predictable. However, I have a manager’s soul – and am relishing the challenge of becoming somewhat British in going through all the bureaucracy and processes.

When I first came to the UK I lived in Kent and received a very British experience. Hence, I appreciate the differences in pace of life and accents between Kent and London.

I believe my current circumstances are a catalyst for me to change. My philosophy

Is to be proactive and just do things. I don’t wait for someone to help me or be shy about asking for support. I take everything as a n opportunity for personal development – even if it is not an ideal role for me.

I do not believe language should be a limitation or hold you back. People in London are citizens of the world and do not judge others by their fluency in English. So I feel we should be proactive and just do the best we can – it’s the fastest way to learn how the country is organised, appreciate the culture and  peoples behaviours and attitudes. I find the majority of people here are helpful. If you ask and are willing to learn they will go out of their way to teach and enable you.

I also don’t seek people who only speak Ukrainian but people who are interesting and who can help me develop and grow in both my professional and personal life. As London is so cosmopolitan, I have also learned to see beyond the surface and understand now that all people are the same underneath, and the differences are superficial. No country is perfect – there is good and bad everywhere. So people just need to find a country and culture that on the whole that they mostly like.

I love that the UK is a very tolerant society that has welcomed many different populations. It feels comforting and reassuring to know that people who have suffered elsewhere in the world live in the UK,  empathise with us and are willing to share experiences.

A recent example is the initiative to make Borscht soup at my daughter’s school with grannies (both Russian and Ukrainian) giving advice on the ingredients and recipe. The Borscht soup was then eaten in a roundtable with students and staff of all nationalities. Being a part of this experience made me think this is how the UN should do roundtables between Russia and Ukraine too!

I am looking forward to new challenges, experiences and opportunities and am curious to how I and my children will change in future.”