Natalia is originally from Russia. She and her family came to Saskatoon under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. Her husband, a cook at a nursing home, came first. Two and a half years after his arrival, Natalia and their children were able to join him. She spoke feelingly of that time of separation from her husband—it was a long time to be apart. Although they talked on Skype every day, it was hard and she began losing hope that she would ever make it to Canada. She had her hands full with two pre-school aged children, and she just wanted him there.
The day did eventually arrive. It was her first time on a plane, and she described how she and her two small children had to navigate their way onto three different planes in order to complete their journey. In spite of this, it was exciting and interesting and there was such joy and relief when she finally debarked in Saskatoon. Her husband was waiting there at the airport for her with a huge bouquet of roses.
She says that the hardest part of living here has been her lack of English. Striking up a conversation with people is difficult. When you first meet someone, or even when you know someone but they’re not a close friend, getting past “hi,” “hi” is the really hard part. She said that this is where Global Gathering Place has really helped out. She especially loves Coffee and Conversation for this reason—it’s an opportunity to not only meet many new people, but also to talk to them and form friendships. She explained that she had studied English before, back in Russia, but it was as if her ears weren’t open and it feels like she didn’t learn anything. She attends every program that she can at GGP, and is really learning now. Her ears are open.
Natalia likes how friendly people are in Saskatoon. Even with so many immigrants arriving every day, Saskatonians continue to be welcoming. She told a story about getting lost downtown in her first weeks here. She was driving at the time and got to her destination without any problem. However, when it came time to leave, she couldn’t remember which way to go. She drove around and around but nothing seemed familiar. Finally, she stopped at a gas station and asked for help. The employee there was understanding and helpful and quickly got her back on the right route. What a relief!
Natalia dreams of becoming a professional photographer. She currently has a small studio in her apartment and she’s looked into the possibility of enrolling in a full-time photography course. The cost, however, is prohibitive at $6,000 for a six-month course! Because it’s so much money, she thinks that she will try to learn on her own and practice with the people, places, and things she sees around her. That kind of money might be better spent on so many things, like maybe as part of a down payment on a house. Currently, they are four sharing a two bedroom apartment. Natalia’s mother plans on visiting in the summer and it would be so nice if they had something more comfortable than their living room couch to offer her.
In the meantime, they make do just fine. Their apartment is in a nice location in the city and their windows look out onto trees. Natalia’s hobby is bird watching and she loves photographing the birds she sees there. She has hung bird feeders from the branches to attract as many kinds as possible. Their cheerful songs and happy energy revitalize her.
Life is good. Natalia always wanted to be here in Canada and can’t wait to explore every province. So far, she’s been to Jasper in Alberta, all over Saskatchewan, and to Toronto to visit her sister. Her plate is full with activities, hobbies, a job, and family to keep her busy and she says that she loves everything here. She loves studying English, she loves that it’s a small city, and she feels at home, as if she’s lived here all her life.
Welcome to Canada, Natalia, we wish you all the best!