Remote Semester Reflections – Maryna Hrytsenko ’23

In 24 days, it will be a year since I have rapidly packed my summer clothing, locked the door of Strong double I shared with a dear friend and rushed home to Ukraine on the very last plane my country allowed to enter. I remember my friend cooking dinner for us the night before to celebrate the end of our in-person first year of college. Remember in the morning before my flight taking a short walk to Sunset Lake, a special place of salvation, and some sour thoughts in the back of my head that were telling me it will be a long while before I take such a walk again.

Vassar has become many things for me. It made me travel across the globe alone, made me amazed by the hard-working and brilliantly smart people around, made me think deeper and grow faster. Vassar taught me to love across the world and cherish people, made me dance and cry and laugh so much it hurts.

Unlike many people, quarantine has brought me many joys: I reunited with my family and my boyfriend, connected with old friends back home, had an eye surgery that made my eyesight perfect again. Ukraine has been pretty open since June, so I even had the luxury to travel, go to the restaurants, and many more things my college friends tell me they miss.

Sometimes it feels like I got a life I should have never had here at home, and I am trying to make the most of it. However, there hasn’t been a day that I didn’t think of Vassar. It took me a while to look at my first year of college from a new perspective and start appreciating the friendships I have made and people I have met during pre-corona time more than ever. Even remotely, I feel such a joy after thought-provoking discussions in my classes or conversations with my friends. Everything has more meaning to me now. As Covid showed, we can lose all at any time. I am trying to make the most of the fact that I am alive.

Right now, my remote college life works out – I usually run in the mornings, read and spend my day in the city, then have classes at night till 9 pm. It’s doable, and I am glad I can receive education in times like this.

It might be a lot more days before I take a walk to Sunset Lake again. I plan to spend my junior year abroad on various programs to explore the world even more. If it works out, I will be on campus physically only for my senior year. Vassar will be the beginning and the end of my college-era, but I know it will stay with me for much longer than that!

If you are on campus right now, please take a walk to Sunset Lake for me and enjoy it! If you are far, remember – you are not alone. 

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