2 minute read

Leap of Faith

Imagine moving – by yourself – halfway across the world to a place where no one speaks your native tongue – and being stuck there while the world endures a pandemic. That story is reality for Yulia Bychkovska.

We introduced you to Bychkovska in the last issue of Affinity magazine. A junior majoring in international business, she hails from Zhytomyr, Ukraine, a city of roughly 300,000 people located about 90 minutes west of the capital, Kyiv.

Yulia Bychkovska, Columbia College Day Program student

Ukrainian officials closed the border in March just two days after Columbia College announced its closing, leaving Bychkovska unable to return home. The college made arrangements for Bychkovska to remain in her room in New Hall, where she quarantined along with a handful of other students. [New Hall features two-person suites that share adjoining bathrooms, but there is enough space to ensure that during this isolation period, only one student occupies any fourperson adjoining suite.]

“At first, it was a little overwhelming with the number of people asking how I was doing, and I didn’t know how I was doing,” she says. “But I haven’t felt alone. It’s great that we have so much technology that we can feel connected even when we aren’t physically connected.”

Bychkovska is an active member of the student body. She was an RA in New Hall last year and in the fall, she will be an RA in Cougar Village. She is a student assistant for Center for Student Leadership, a student ambassador, president of the Honors Student Association and next year’s vice president of the Student Government Association.

It’s great that we have so much technology that we can feel connected even when we aren’t physically connected.

With the move from in-seat to interactive virtual classes came a new way to learn. While Bychkovska had the benefit of previously taking classes online, she received ample support from faculty and staff. “I was worried about not being able to focus, but I can see my professor and my professor can see what I’m doing,” she says. “Everyone knows that everything is new for everyone. If the professor makes a mistake or if there are technical issues, we understand that. Professors have been very understanding that people might be in different time zones, or now have new family responsibilities.”

While this academic year wrapped up in a manner no one envisioned, Bychkovska is grateful for the college’s leadership and extraordinary efforts to continue offering quality education under unique circumstances. “It’s great to feel cared for. Columbia College made sure that it’s as smooth as possible for us students.” –KF