“What? Your son simply went to Canada to study there? How dared you to let him in the back of beyond?”, you’d ask me. “Of course, it’s not such easy”, I’d answer.
A wonderful neighbour Svitlana from the house in the Lukyanivka where we’ve rented an apartment for many years is to blame for everything. A year before my son had to go to school, she said to me, “Olena, have you already given a thought to the first grade? In school, where my daughter’s studying, a teacher, who perfectly matches your boy, takes first-graders”.
That’s how we’d chosen a school. Not because of its “coolness” or because of the best teachers in the world, but because of a teacher who perfectly matched my “gadabout” son. But it appeared that except for a calm, balanced and experienced teacher of the primary school, my son got the school with an in-depth study of English. Ordinary secondary school. Not a lyceum, not a gymnasium, not paid, not private. But English. Where every day, without exaggeration, every day, all years of studying the director greets every student in English and talks to every student only in English, where on the timetable there’s a foreign language every day or even twice a day.
It started from the school. Eleven years of English at school and regular tutors (sometimes two simultaneously) resulted in my son’s awareness: “Everyone studies foreign languages. You cannot but know English. It’s like brushing the teeth in the morning, everyone does it”.
Why Canada? To tell you the truth, because Canada is the country of immigrants and the law is very loyal to those who strive to work there after graduation. Secondly, I liked that it’s not necessary to get a bachelor or master’s degree to get a job. Education in Canadian colleges is built in the way you can get it in a year, two, three and it’ll be a diploma you can use to find a job on specialty.
How have we chosen the town where the son could study? It’s funny but don’t wait from me a detailed analysis in which the city of Canada is easier, cheaper or more interesting to live. It’s difficult after Kyiv to go to study in the small town. That’s why we’ve looked up the biggest cities of Canada in Wikipedia and they turned out to be Toronto and Vancouver. Vancouver is far in the north and you have to fly over the whole continent to get it. And Toronto is the east part of Canada, New-York, the city of opportunities, is near and the straight flight from Kyiv lasts about 10 hours. It’s longer to go to Crimea. That’s how Toronto has been chosen!
When I saw my son’s marks from the first semester, I was surprised, cautiously praised him and decided that it’s a coincidence. When I saw marks from the second semester, I said, “Either you’re overly smart or it’s too easy to study in Canada. How is it possible? Moreover, you’re studying in English”.
Actually, he’s easy to study because he immediately grasped the system. There was nothing extra on the lessons: the thing you learn, the same you pass at the exams. If you study, you don’t have problems. If you play truant, don’t deliver works and projects in time, on the course of the time it becomes more difficult to catch up and to understand what to do next.
My son didn’t live in a dormitory because he rented a room in the high-rise building with the owner in the first year, the second year he rented a room in the house next to the college together with friends, whom he’d met during the first year of studies.
But if your child doesn’t reach 19 years, it must live in a dorm. After that, it can rent apartment wherever it wants. Financially it almost the same price. But there’s an important thing! There’s no kitchen in a dorm, it’s forbidden to cook on your own there. A child eats in a canteen. By the way, about the feeding. When I entered the building of college I was astonished by the number of places where you can eat. There wasn’t only MacDonald’s, even though Starbucks and other famous fast food brands were present.
And if the parents worry a lot about the child, it’s always possible to find a special person for some money who will become your eyes in college: go to the teachers and control whether everything is OK with studies, look up into a dorm and check whether your child eats or wears a hat, buy medicine and help with the household tasks.
The main consolation is, first of all, an insurance program, which covers almost every trouble in case of some health problems and secondly, understanding that Canada is the country of rules and laws, following of which is obligatory for everyone – from the vice-minister to a student.
When I came to visit my son and we both went to the campus where he was studying, I was impressed that the building is open around the clock. Students come there whenever they want, computers are everywhere and there’s free Internet access. Almost everything is open. Come in, study, rest, if necessary you can take shower or go to the gym, train, play tennis or squash, work on the treadmills, eat. I saw all of these and said that there’s no need to rent an apartment, you can live there!
“Do you want to continue your education?”, I asked my son immediately after getting a Canadian diploma.
“Yes, but a bit later”, he said in response. “I’ve been studying for sixteen years, maybe it’s time to work”.
P.S. To teach son foreign languages (he has spoken German and basic French in the background) was my rightest decision from everything I’ve done for him. Not very persistent and studious learning of English was the wrongest decision I’ve ever made. Because now he’s a free person and I’m not yet. The more languages the person knows, the freer it is. And then, freedom isn’t an empty word from the dictionary, but the way of living.