IT’S exactly one month today since Varvara Shevtsova arrived in Scotland.

When the 18-year-old fled Ukraine she had no idea what the future would hold for herself, her family or her country.

Since then a lot has changed. Russia has pulled back from her home city of Kyiv, with it being deemed safe enough for Boris Johnson and US officials to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Only a month ago, she was sleeping in a bomb shelter with her family fearing that every night would her last.

But since March 28, Montrose has been the student’s new home and she told The National she’s settling in well in the country 2000 miles away from her old home.

READ MORE: 'I have left everything behind': Ukrainian refugee on her new life in Scotland

“I’m very happy that I am fitting in,” she said. “There is a possibility of a job offer from Angus Council. They might employ me to consult them on how to deal with Ukrainian refugees and do peer to peer support with Ukrainians.”

Shevtsova said she was rejected for Universal Credit on the basis that she was a student back in Ukraine but said Angus Council had offered her a £200 one-time payment.

The hurdle in getting financial support has been one of the most difficult issues for her, with her bank account only being set up last week.

And without Universal Credit, Shevtsova won't have an income until she finds a job.

She is hopeful for a place at the University of Dundee where she has applied for a master's degree in social work.

The National understands a decision on her application is expected soon.

Shevtsova said she found Scotland a welcoming place for Ukrainians like herself, saying the reaction she gets from Scots “fills my heart”.

“Locally, like people are very friendly and accepting," she told The National. "Like everybody in every shop, as soon as they know I'm from Ukraine, they say, 'Oh, you're very welcome'. And that just fills my heart.

"Scottish people are so nice. And I don't feel like I'm a stranger at all. Everybody's so, so welcoming.”

Ukrainian refugee Varvara Shevtsova said Scotland has made her feel welcome. Photo: Knotbrook TaylorVarvara Shevtsova has been offered a place to study a masters in social work at the University of Dundee

Shevtsova revealed she had previously fallen in love with Scotland before the war, having wanted to visit the country in the summer with plans to study here too.

She said that she had been coping well with understanding the local dialects too.

“I've been listening a lot to James McAvoy and Ewan McGregor speaking,” she said. “So, it's not hard to understand unless it's a very broad accent. In the area of the North East, it's more or less understandable. I think I might be struggling in Glasgow.

“I've been learning English very hard for six years. And then I heard [McAvoy’s] accent and I looked up ... Scottish culture. And afterwards, I became a huge fan of Scottish culture and everything related to that.

"I dream of playing the bagpipes. So yeah, I'm in love with Scottish culture.

"My biggest dream was to visit Scotland at some point in my life. And I was going to do that this summer.

Ukrainian refugee Varvara Shevtsova said Scotland has made her feel welcome. Photo: Knotbrook TaylorVarvara Shevtsova said she loved the Scottish countryside

"And if the war didn't start, I would have visited Scotland. But that's what we're dealing with. I wanted to come here just because I know English, and I love this culture and this country.

"And now I'm not disappointed. I just love everything about Scotland: The weather; the people; the accents; the food, I love the food here, like Irn Bru. Everything!”

Shevtsova said she’d fallen in love with Scottish cuisine, especially white pudding but said some of the desserts were “overwhelmingly sweet”. She also described vegetarian haggis as "spot on".

She even waded into the contentious debate around what exactly Irn Bru tastes like. Varvara said she thought it tasted like “cream soda with something floral in it, and honey”.

Looking to the future, Varvara wants to become a social worker in Scotland following the completion of a master’s degree.

She said her professor at her university in Ukraine had reached out to Scottish universities to try to get her a place in social work.

Ukrainian refugee Varvara Shevtsova said Scotland has made her feel welcome. Photo: Knotbrook TaylorVarvara Shevtsova said she loved everything about Scotland, from its weather to its food

During her stay, Shevtsova has enjoyed exploring Scotland with her hosts and said she loved Angus, Arbroath and Dundee but said that Edinburgh was a tad “stuffy” and “not so impressive”.

She said that growing up in the industrial, urban city of Kyiv she was happy to be a “rural lass” in Scotland.

None of Shevtsova's friends from Ukraine travelled to Scotland, or the wider UK, and are instead spread across Europe. And some, like her emergency services worker dad and her childhood friend, remain in Kyiv.

But despite the distance, she doesn’t feel lonely. Shevtsova said she feels accepted in Scotland, praising her host family's efforts to make her feel at home.

She said Scotland appeared to have a much bigger LGBT community than Ukraine, and that's helped her fit in and be herself here.

Ukrainian refugee Varvara Shevtsova said Scotland has made her feel welcome. Photo: Knotbrook TaylorHarry and Catriona Smart chose to sponsor Varvara Shevtsova's visa to come to the UK. They met for the first time at Edinburgh's Waverley Station

"I'm not lonely because the LGBT community is much bigger," she said. "So yes the community is big enough. Especially when I start to go into the university, I will find friends and maybe a love of my life. Who knows?"

An Angus Council spokesperson they are working hard with the UK and Scottish Governments to finalise arrangements for Ukrainian refugees.

They said: “While we do not comment on individual cases, I can confirm that students don’t get universal credit – these are not our rules but ones we must follow.

READ MORE: Scottish host family in call for overhaul of 'broken' Homes for Ukraine scheme

“If you are a host sponsor waiting to receive the £350 monthly payment, this will be arranged once the relevant disclosure and property checks have been completed. We will arrange these checks with you once we have confirmation of your details from the Scottish or UK Government authority supporting this process.

“Anyone arriving from Ukraine through the UK or Scottish sponsor schemes in need of help, or if you are a host sponsor providing accommodation, and your guests from Ukraine need help, please contact Angus Council’s ACCESSLine on 03452 777 778.

"We can then establish what type of support is required, and direct you to the appropriate help - such as benefits advice, information on schools, access to medical assistance, or emergency cash payments to help with short term essential living expenses. Please be aware that visa checks will be required."

“Thank you for your patience as we set up assistance arrangements.”