When Ukraine is able to recover “like a phoenix”, two students hope to bring skills learned in Scotland back to their homeland.

Sofia Kyrychenko, 21, and Dmytro Nguien, 24, have continued their drama studies at Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) after the Russian invasion brought their learning to a premature halt.

The duo were both in their third year at Karpenko-Karyi Theatre, Cinema and Television University in Kyiv, but have now embraced an opportunity to learn the art of acting in a new way.

Exactly one year on from the start of the conflict, the two students shared their hopes of a bright future for Ukraine, guided by skills gained by youth who have been forced to embrace lives abroad.

“We are thinking optimistically that, maybe some time soon, we will have a chance to see the rebuild or repairing of Ukraine,” Mr Nguien said.

“I think there will be a time when the young generation will come back and put in everything they have learned abroad.

“It’s a very important thing because when the country will be rising again like a phoenix, I think a lot of people will take interest in working with Ukraine and coming to Ukraine.”

He added: “It’s a very good picture in our head – that all the good work we can do here, and that RCS helps with, that we can bring some knowledge back.”

Ms Kyrychenko spoke about feeling a “huge responsibility” to their country.

“I feel like we are the face of our country,” she said.

“I feel this huge responsibility and I really want to do as much as I can where I am for my country. I can do more here and bring it back.”

It was the 21-year-old who led them both to the high-profile performing arts school.

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While she initially remained hopeful of a swift return to their Kyiv classes, she soon realised they may need to look elsewhere.

After dozens of letters to institutions across the globe, she was stunned by the support offered – and after a successful application, the two students arrived in Scotland in August last year.

“It’s an amazing thing that we were there and here, it’s different studies but I feel like it makes you more complete,” she said.

Describing the differences between their learning in the two countries, she added: “Here, from second year, teachers already support us to go work and want us to work in the third year.

“In our university in Ukraine, it’s more thought you need to go through this path to develop this acting soul before you can work.”

Mr Nguien added: “It’s a whole different story for actors, I think.

“In Kyiv, it is about the school of drama and acting. They don’t have the classes [focused on] what to do in the career or in the profession.”

They are grateful for their Ukrainian education which is helping them at RCS.

“It’s really a blessing that we had that experience,” he added. “If it were not for that experience, we maybe couldn’t enrol in Scotland.”

Both of them continue to have conversations with their Ukrainian teachers about “acting, the profession” and the way they are learning the art of drama in Scotland.

From being greeted at the airport upon their first arrival to their time with their “very caring” host family in East Renfrewshire, the two students have felt as if Scots are not dissimilar to Ukrainians.

“I think Scottish people are maybe the closest people to Ukrainians,” Mr Nguien said. “I feel we have some similarities. The mentality is quite similar.

“We were living in a host family first and they were great people.

He added that they were “very welcoming, warm, very caring and had that Ukrainian sense of hospitality”.

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Meanwhile, Ms Kyrychenko has been impressed by how communicative Scots are.

“People are so open and loud,” she said. “I feel like even for us in our course, we need to explore this loudness in ourselves. I feel like people have this from when they are born.”

Scotland does feel like a home away from home for them, but a big part of that is that they are here together.

Mr Nguien said: “I think if we didn’t have each other, it would be very difficult.

“With all the hospitality and wonderful things and a wonderful university, every day we are very blessed to be here.

“But we still wouldn’t feel OK if it were not for each other.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland said: “Ukrainians who are here in Scotland under official visa and sponsor programmes have been given ‘Home Fee’ status by the Scottish Government, which enables them to access Higher Education as Scottish students, going through the same entry processes.

“This has enabled young artists from Ukraine to become part of the RCS community at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. They’ve each been warmly welcomed, and all contribute so much to our community, as do all of our students, by sharing their artistry.”