Conversation with Dmytro KAZAKOV on the opening ceremony


What did it mean to you to give this speech at the Opening ceremony?

It was a great honour for me to represent all the students of the College of Europe Bruges Campus of the David Sassoli Promotion in front of our esteemed guest, Ms. Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament and Alumna of the College of Europe.

The very fact that the student representatives, who were democratically elected by the students, entrusted me with this honourable mission already means a lot to me. The significance is also added by the fact that I am a Ukrainian citizen, and although this was an address from all students, it was particularly important for me to highlight the war in Ukraine, which is also of concern to so many students at the College.


What were you hoping to highlight to the European Parliament  President especially?

My colleagues, the academic student representatives, and I surveyed students as to what topics they would like to emphasise in the speech at the opening ceremony. As it turned out, most students were concerned about the very topics that also concerned me personally the most – the war in Ukraine, the global energy crisis and, by extension, the switch to green energy to combat climate change.

Based on these preferences of the students, I have tried to highlight especially Ukraine's commitment to European values and to the strategic path of European integration. As for the energy crisis, it was very important for me to convey a clear message that we, as students of the College of Europe, can already today contribute to saving energy by participating in initiatives and projects on this topic.


How did you find yourself at the College?

It's a long story that started back in December 2021. I saw an announcement on the website of my alma mater – Institute of International Relations Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv – about the opportunity to study at the College of Europe for the next academic year. Also, one of the specializations (European Economic Integration and Business), was completely mated to my bachelor's degree. But when I got acquainted with the list of documents required to apply and considering the heavy workload at the university, I was unsure whether I should apply.

At this point I was supported by my mother, who insisted that I send in my application so that I wouldn't miss out on such an opportunity to study in the very heart of Europe.

The application process was quite lengthy – every day for 2 weeks I set aside time to fill out my application as best I could, attach all the certificates from the conferences

I attended, all my publications in scientific journals and most importantly to write a

strong motivation letter backed by my strong academic results in undergraduate studies both in Ukraine and in Germany. After I had sent my application in January and the professors from my home University had sent their reference letters, I began to wait anxiously for a response from the College of Europe. It is also worth noting that a special system without an interview has been set up for Ukrainians because of the war.

And finally, a few months later, I received the long-awaited letter of admission and full scholarship award. I immediately started preparing all the necessary documents to leave Ukraine during martial law. Among other things I needed the original enrolment letter from the College of Europe, which took 5 weeks to arrive from Bruges to Kyiv. I was overjoyed when I finally got it.

Unfortunately, I had some difficulties crossing the Ukrainian border. And it cost me some effort and time to leave Ukraine during this difficult time. There was even a moment when I almost gave up. But all the way through I was very much supported by the College, for which I am grateful!

And now I am here, at the College of Europe, among the smartest and most promising students, as well as my future colleagues!