Renata Borsuk has always felt the need to be around people. Growing up in Ukraine, she dreamed of jobs in psychology, journalism, television presenting and blogging.
When she was a teenager finishing secondary school, her parents suggested she study at a Canadian college. Borsuk found Humber’s Public Relations advanced diploma program online.
“I read the reviews and Humber has the best PR program in the province. I decided to enrol then and there. I love Toronto as a city,” she said.
Borsuk had travelled to the city twice before on language exchange courses.
She soon finished her secondary schooling in Ukraine, which transitioned to online learning in the Spring of 2020.
“Our online education was organized badly and we were left to ourselves,” she said.
“Quarantine turned my life upside down.”
She was unable to play her regular sports or see her relatives. But she was ready for college.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, and because the classes for her particular program are all online, Borsuk has not been able to make the move to Canada.
She began studies at Humber in the Fall, after registering for her program last minute. Despite the rush, she was able to settle in and get comfortable – virtually - at Humber.
“My group mates are very kind and helpful,” she said.
One day, she was delivering a presentation in front of the online class and felt self-conscious of her accent and fast speech.
“I asked them whether my accent was too harsh and some of them replied that they wished to have an accent and that I shouldn’t be shy,” she said.
“Those words are still in my memory. We have a great community.”
As a naturally open and social person, Borsuk misses the company of her peers and looks forward to meeting them in person.
From her bedroom at home in Ukraine, Borsuk has encountered a challenge unique to international students: Time zone differences.
Sometimes, though, it works to her advantage. She can access Humber’s resources and staff at 4 a.m. in her time zone.
One night, during her first semester, she had some issues trying to install Photoshop on her computer, which she needed for class the next day. The program is licensed through Humber, so she got in touch with the IT department at the college.
“It was hard to fall asleep with so many emotions,” she said.
The IT technician on the other end of the phone discussed the issue with her and tried several times to find a solution.
In the end, he finally got her a whole new subscription – just in time for class.
“I’m very thankful to this man. The first thing I’m going to do in college is thank him personally,” said Borsuk, though she admits that she does not expect school to be the same when she finally starts studying at Humber’s North Campus in Etobicoke.
“There has been a reassessment of values all over the world,” she said.
She’s hopeful that COVID-19 will have at least some positive impact, especially on the environment.
For now, she will continue her studies from home, soaking up all that Humber has to offer – online.