Ukrainian students arrive at Lake Zurich


Photo by Jane Yu

(From left to right) Sofia Khailova, sophomore; Maksym Senyk, sophomore; and Yuliana Zhelezniak, senior moved to Lake Zurich area from Ukraine this year. According to Zhelezniak, education in the United States is very different from education in Ukraine.

Moving is often a challenge for students, especially when it requires them to change high schools. Even harder is moving from one country to another, especially during a war.

Yuliana Zhelezniak, senior; Maksym Senyk, sophomore; and Sofia Khailova, sophomore moved in from Ukraine this year. According to Zhelezniak, “it’s really different. There’s so many rules and regulations and sometimes [adjusting] is difficult because of language.”

Zhelezniak has been learning English for about a year and speaks three other languages—Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish. While she moved to the United States with her father this year, her mom and friends still live in Ukraine.

“One thing I don’t like is when people make jokes [about Ukraine],” Zhelezniak said. “It feels really bad, because we lost our house, our family, our friends. It’s really hard. So please don’t be angry with us because we try really hard to speak the same language and understand their jokes.”

According to Khailova, she was excited about coming to the United States, as she heard a lot from people who have visited the US before. However, not everything has been all smooth sailing, as she found herself “missing [her] friends and [her] home when [she] moved.”

Unlike Khailova, Senyk says that he was very reluctant to make the move.

“I wasn’t excited, I didn’t want to come here, I miss my family and friends. But my parents wanted me to have a better education,” Senyk said.

For students like Senyk, who are still in high school, the situation in Ukraine has the potential to jeopardize education in some areas.

School in America is very different, according to Zhelezniak who, unlike Senyk, already graduated from school in Ukraine.

“It’s much different from Ukrainian school, it’s actually much [easier],” Zhelezniak said. “In Ukrainian school, every student follows [the same] program, they aren’t taking different [electives]. What makes it difficult [for me] is the language. I have a hard time understanding what people say when they talk fast.”

Zhelezniak says that the language barrier is her biggest concern when it comes to adjusting to living in the United States. “I am very scared about my language because the way I [don’t speak fluently],” Zhelezniak said.

While America is very different from Ukraine, Zhelezniak says she believes she will be able to adjust as long as people are understanding and supportive of Ukrainian students.

“One thing [I want to say] is please don’t support Russia [during this time] because that’s really important right now,” Zheleznak said. “What they’re doing isn’t okay.”