Living the Good Life Abroad (Ukraine)
by Britteny Egan
Meghan Dano, '13
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in another country for a little while? Two Lehigh students share their perspectives on the country of Ukraine, comparing it to life at Lehigh University.
Meghan Dano, ‘13, is a student in the Integrated Business and Engineering Program. She recently spent eight weeks in Kiev, Ukraine though the Lee Iacocca International Internship Program. While in Ukraine she worked for CFC Consulting.
“The whole experience was very interesting,” she said.
Her favorite part of her experience at Ukraine was being able to travel. She visited the Black Sea and some of Western Ukraine, which she described as more European.
However, it was very difficult for Dano to communicate outside her internship. She sometimes had a friend with her that could help translate, but she eventually just had to learn on her own. She said by the end of her stay, she was able to pick up the language better.
Dano said it was very difficult to be away at first because she didn’t know anyone. She lived in a one bedroom apartment by herself and found it hard to communicate with family and friends at home because of the time difference.
Being back at Lehigh, Dano explained how much this internship experience affected her positively.
“I have a different perspective on a lot of things now,” she said. “You don’t realize how many views there are outside the U.S.”
Roman Dusyk, '13
Living in the U.S. is like being in a “bubble,” Dano explained.
Dano’s internship experience in Ukraine inspired her to want to pursue a career which includes travel. She said she thinks that being able to have different experiences abroad can help her have a better understanding of the world.
Lehigh made it very easy for Dano to get involved in such a great opportunity. The application process was pretty simple, and Dano said if anyone is even considering going abroad she would tell them to definitely do it.
Dano used to work in the Study Abroad Office, so she was aware at all of the opportunities Lehigh has available. However, she wishes more people on campus would be aware as well and take advantage of the variety of options Lehigh has to offer.
Another student, Roman Dusyk ‘13, is a Fulbright Scholar at Lehigh and also has a few unique perspectives on Ukraine and Lehigh.
Dusyk was born and raised in Ukraine, but came to Lehigh this year to continue as a graduate student in the analytical finance master’s program offered through the College of Business and Economics.
When first arriving at Lehigh, Dusyk was most impacted by how relaxed other people seemed to be. “In Ukraine people aren’t as open minded and don’t just go up to anyone and start a conversation,” according to Dusyk.
Dusyk said he has more acquaintances in Ukraine than close friends. He compared Facebook friends with Ukraine. It’s like a social network of acquaintances instead of having actual friends, he said.
When he first arrived at Lehigh, he was a little depressed because he was used to living in a bigger city. He later found it beneficial because to live here he wasn’t tempted to go out exploring all the time. He was able to put more time into his studies. He finds Lehigh to be a great place to stay focused. He looks around and sees so many others studying, which motivates him to study as well, he said.
Dusyk believes America fosters success and motivation because students here are very competitive and invested in academics. Dusyk also finds it surprising that most students know what they’re going to do right out of college. According to him, most students in Ukraine start working right out of high school.
Another difference, Dusyk said, is that students at Lehigh are more independent. In Ukraine, the younger people expect a lot of help from their families. Some will even spend a half a year with their grandparents. It’s a tradition in Ukraine for grandparents to help their grandchildren, he said.
Dusyk said he really likes how much Lehigh cares about its international students. Lehigh helps them adjust and gain a lot of support from others, he said.
“Lehigh is meeting my expectations,” he said.
Dusyk also expressed excitement about opportunities offered through the Career Services. He thinks professional guidance for job searching and internships are great benefits at Lehigh.
Although Lehigh has been a great experience for Dusyk, he said he still misses some of his close friends from Ukraine.
Leaving Ukraine, Dusyk said he left a nice lifestyle. He was working full time and going to school. He felt prepared for the challenges at Lehigh, though. He likes the feeling of getting accustomed to a new society, he said.
Dusyk’s No. 1 goal at Lehigh is to have fun. He wants to enhance his knowledge within the finance field, but also wants to enjoy the student lifestyle. After working 60 hours a week, he is enjoying some time to relax and get involved in activities he never would have had time for before, such as joining the squash intramural team.
Dusyk plans to go back to Ukraine after Lehigh, but he has dreams of having other abroad experiences in places such as, Brazil, Hong-Kong or Russia. He said he believes it’s very important to have international exposure.
“I hope to get home completely transformed,” he said.
Both Dano and Dusyk have had many successful, interesting and positive experiences while studying abroad. Amongst both their perspectives, the two eagerly encourage other students to take advantage of the study abroad programs and opportunities that Lehigh and other countries have to offer. Now what will you have to say about your abroad experiences?