My path to getting to Vassar as a freshman was not easy. In February 2022, I started preparing for my Studies at Vassar College. Student life was just beginning for me as I started to meet first-year students from Class 2026 online. Everything was exciting and new for me. However, the first missile strikes on February 24th changed everything.
The time after the start of the invasion was as the slowed shooting of the film. Cities got dark and empty, and fear spread through the streets as air raid alerts started going off. No one knew whether the occupation would swallow my city up or not. “Tomorrow” slowly faded as the full-scale war continued. After evacuating alone from Ukraine after one month after the beginning of the full-scale invasion, my life as an 18-year-old girl changed drastically.
Being alone in a foreign country, where you do not know the foreign language properly and do not have anyone around you know, was challenging. However, the international Vassar community did not let me down. Both prospective students and Vassar alums cherished me with a lot of support, and I am grateful for all the help that I have received through my challenging journey from Ukraine to the USA.
Since this moment, the Vassar community has shown me that support and kindness can help to reach my goal. I arrived on campus slightly before the International Orientation, and the welcoming international students and interns of the Office of International Services introduced me to the campus. Despite witnessing a mostly empty campus, I felt how united and friendly the international community is here. With the start of the International Orientation, I enjoyed helping organize the events and welcoming other first-year and exchange students on campus.
This warm experience helped me become an intern at the Office of International Services. Being around other international students and supporting them in any difficulties, whether homesickness or misunderstandings with domestic students and organizing events to celebrate Vassar diversity enriched my first-year experience.
Kaleidoscope became for me one of the most memorable experiences of the first semester. I did not only help to organize the activities for the event but also participated in the Flag ceremony and performed the songs of Ukraine. Even though I performed for the first time after a long hiatus on stage with my friend from Vassar Alliance for Ukraine, I felt the audience’s support. The atmosphere at the event was terrific, and after a long time, I could finally feel as if I was at home.
Despite my long and tiring journey to Vassar, I never regretted my decision to arrive and study here, that far away from home and relatives. I hope that, similar to me, Vassar College will become a good place for other international students where everyone can freely express themselves and feel as they are at home.