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Where I'm From

Kiev, Ukraine (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Kiev, Ukraine (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Both of my parents come from the former Soviet Union. My mother was born and raised in Moldova, though she is half Russian and half Ukrainian by birth. Her mother’s family had lived in a village in Siberia before they were moved to Moldova by the government. My father was born in Simferopol, Ukraine and grew up there with his mother, who was the head of the library there. My parents both moved to the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, as young adults to get their degrees, and this is where they met each other.

My older brother and I were both born in Kiev. At that time, as the USSR was falling apart, it was difficult for scientists to find jobs, and my father had a degree in physics. We also had very little money and lived in rough conditions. In hopes of finding a better job for my dad and a better life for my family, my parents decided to move to the United States.

We arrived in Fort Worth, Texas in April of 1992. A Lutheran reverend and a family belonging to his parish had agreed to give us housing, clothing, and food for some time while my father looked for a job. In June, he found one in New York City working for the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, or NASA GISS. We moved into a dormitory room in the Upper West Side, and my parents began working for GISS, my father as a full-time physicist and my mother as a part-time computer programmer. Soon we were able to move into an apartment.

I think my parents are very happy that we were able to find a better life here, though they miss the old culture and many aspects of their lives back in Europe. The move was very difficult. My dad spoke decent English because he had studied it, but my mother didn’t know English at all. Neither of them knew the culture here, and it took a long time for them to adjust to the different customs and diversity of New York. I asked them whether they would want to go back to Ukraine one day, but they said that they would have to make a cultural adjustment again and it would be too hard. My dad said that the culture there has changed somewhat since we moved to the U.S., and we are no longer like the people who live there today. My dad loves his job here, and my parents are still able to find Russian and Ukrainian friends who moved to the United States like we did.

Who I Am

Summer 2008
Summer 2008
I am a freshman at Macaulay Honors College at the City College of New York. I am getting a B.A. but my major is undecided for now, though I hope to spend no more than one more term of school undecided. Right now I am mainly choosing between mathematics and psychology, leaning toward math. I also really love creative writing, so I am hoping to take a good number of creative writing courses while at City College.

Outside of school, I love to play sports. I play tennis for the City College Beavers, and last year I was on the New York Women’s ultimate frisbee team (though I think I am going to take a year off from frisbee this year). I also like music a lot, mostly bands from the sixties and the nineties.

This term, my favorite reading assignment was Maggie. I liked it because it allowed me to think about the particular plotline as well as New York in that time period in general, and I was able to analyze the story on a few levels. I did not like the amount of readings we had. It was difficult to keep up, and sometimes the information we read would repeat itself.

I am a member of the Chinese Immigrant Group project. My individual paper is going to be about religion, though I cannot decide specifics until I do more research. I will probably choose to focus solely on the religion of the very first Chinese Immigrants to arrive here, and I may expand or compare and contrast to later religions.

New York and I

Riverside Park
Riverside Park
I have lived in New York for about seventeen years, so even though I wasn’t born here and am not of American blood, I consider Manhattan my home. When my family moved here, we lived at around 125th street in some sort of dormitory. Then we moved to 112th street, and then to 103rd, so I know the area of Manhattan in which I live very well.

My favorite part about living at 103rd Street is that I am really close to both Riverside Park and Central Park. When I was young I loved playgrounds and parks, so it was great to have them so nearby. I have to remind myself to appreciate this, since I have never really known what it’s like to live anywhere else.

I’ve had almost every experience of my life in New York. Seeing a few shows on or off Broadway, being at Times Square on a weekend, or having a picnic in Central Park. Since I’ve been to other places in America, mostly traveling with my high school frisbee team or my family, I can see how much more exciting it is to live in New York. There are times when I wish it were more peaceful and less polluted, or that it got darker in the middle of the night and more of the stars came out, but for me the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

I like going to school at City College, but we seem to be mostly a commuter school and because of that (and the fact that our sports teams are Division III), we have less school pride and less campus life. I wish I were getting the experience of living in a college town and in a dormitory, and this was one of the main reasons I wanted to move away when I went to college. But even though I didn't, I feel like things worked out well and I’m happy studying at City College and continuing to live in New York.