I was born and raised in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine. Its universities, nightlife, numerous festivals and youth culture offer lots of opportunities for teenagers and students. From a very young age I always wanted to explore more of the world and find my place in it. In school I took part in many social activities, services, and sports. I did rhythmic gymnastics for seven years and would say that it shaped my character a great deal. In the eighth grade I transferred from a local public school to a local private one, where I specialized in computer science and mathematics.
Upon graduation I received a scholarship to Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Canada, where I spent the two most influential years of my life—filled with new people, events, and experiences. I think it is very unique to have lived in such a tiny but multicultural community where two hundred international students come from a hundred different countries. It was really exciting to live with three other roommates from three continents different from my own. Though sometimes it brought conflicts and challenges, we all overcame them successfully together. During these two years we learned to understand each other as well as our differences and similarities. At Pearson College I did kayaking, photography, participated in a business internship, took part in many of dance activities from various corners of the world from India to South Africa, and took part in multicultural discussions and debates. One of the most thrilling experiences at Lester B. Pearson UWC was service in a soup kitchen in Vancouver, where for one week our team of eight students cooked and served food for poor and homeless people. I heard many life stories of poor people from all over Canada and other countries. Many of them took my breath away.
After Lester B. Pearson UWC I decided to take a gap year and spent it with my friends and family at home. This was an extremely fulfilling year, during which I got my first job as an interpreter, met a lot of new people, traveled across my country, took several courses in the local university and did many exciting things I’d not had a chance to do while studying.
After my freshman year in the US, many of my life views and choices have drastically changed. This happened mainly as a result of country and cultural changes. College life is not real grown up life, but it is definitely different from life at the UWCs or in Ukraine. I feel that my first year at L&C was a little step toward the adult life I will face in three more years. L&C taught me that the future has to be taken seriously, right away from the freshman year. One needs to plan and think about what she wants to do in life and focus on academics. But, on the other hand, college life last year was only a transition with many parties, new friends in and out of school, trips to Seattle and around Portland, concerts, an introduction to American culture and lifestyle, exploration of my abilities and many opportunities. I have decided to pursue a neuroscience major, made my first steps in genetics investigations, experimented in theatre laboratory class, explored vampire literature in Exploration and Discovery and took an anatomy dance class. But my most heartwarming experience was the realization of how valuable my relationships are with the new friends— how those people support me, relieve me from stressful weekdays, bring light to my life and simply help me discover myself by mirroring me in their eyes, smiles and souls.