Cambridge Uni fresher joins Ukraine army but still plans to sit exams 4 months ago

Cambridge Uni fresher joins Ukraine army but still plans to sit exams

Days before driving to Ukraine Nikolai Nizalov played a varsity water polo match against Oxford University

Cambridge University fresher who joined the Ukraine army says he will study - and even take exams - remotely from the war-torn country.


Nikolai Nizalov drove to his home country two weeks ago to join a nine-man volunteer platoon, in which he'll work primarily as a medic.

And the natural sciences undergrad says he'll still watch lectures and even hopes to take an exam remotely when term starts again next month.

The 19-year-old, who moved from Ukraine to the UK in 2013, has vowed to stay in the country "until we win".


"I've brought my lectures with me that I need to watch. I'll try to keep up with them with the little spare time I have," Nizalov said, adding that he might sit his exam in May remotely.

He hopes to return to the UK for the second year in October, "but I'm not going to leave until we win", and if doesn't get a good mark plans to apply for special permission to get into next year.

Nizalov's platoon is made up of Ukrainian volunteers aged up to their 30s, some of whom have military experience. The unit is due to travel towards Kyiv next week and Nizalov will be given a rifle for his own protection - despite having no combat experience.

The student, who played a varsity water polo match against Oxford University days before driving to Ukraine, said: "I feel much calmer here.


"When I was in Cambridge it was weird because my country was at war and people were going on with their normal lives.

"I have friends on the frontlines and I wouldn't be able to look them in the eye if I didn't help out.

"In Ukraine we are all together and I feel much more at peace."

Nizalov said his parents didn't want him to join the fight, "but they understood why I wanted to - and I didn't give them much choice".


Nizalov, who is originally from Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, is currently living at a friend's house in the western city of Lviv.

He said that he took an intensive medical course in the city to prepare him to work as a medic and head closer to the frontlines from next week.

The undergrad also plans to operate a drone that will drop humanitarian supplies such as medication to people who can't be reached due to Russian military positions.

Nizalov is fundraising to support his volunteer unit and says he has already raised enough to buy two 4x4 vehicles that will be used to transport the platoon. His fundraising page is here.

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