Q: What made you decide to move to Metro Vancouver and study in Burnaby, i.e.: Was it your idea or your child’s?
A: It was my husband’s and my idea. My husband (he is South African) and I were thinking about moving to an English-speaking country, and after a presentation from an Education Agency, we made up our minds to go to Canada.
Q: Did you locate a place to live from your home country, or did you wait until you arrived? What tools did you use to locate your accommodation (agent, home rental websites, Airbnb, etc.)?
A: After we had chosen the schools we started looking for a place to rent from Kazakhstan. We knew where we needed to locate and found a perfect option for our family from Craigslist adverts.
Q: Was it difficult to locate a place to live?
A: With Google Maps, it was very easy. I even “walked streets up and down” with the “street view” option. So, when we came here we already knew where the shops and bus stops were.
Q: How did you like your accommodation this year? Did you feel comfortable in the neighbourhood and surrounding environment?
A: We rented an apartment in a newly-built building. It is perfect for us. It was unfurnished, so we bought all we needed within the first three days. This neighbourhood is exactly what we were looking for: park, library, gym, swimming pool, bus stops, shops, cafes, music conservatory… everything is nearby for us.
Q: How long did it take for your child to feel comfortable in his or her new school?
A: My older daughter is in high school (Burnaby North). She made friends quite easily and was going out with girls after a month’s time already. My younger daughter in elementary school (Westridge Elementary) took longer, but she’s fine now. They both have got friends now, get invitations to parties, go out.
Q: How did you find socializing? Were there opportunities through the school network to meet other international school parents?
A: I didn’t meet any other international students’ parents. But I made lots of new acquaintances at my children’s’ activities.
Q: Have you had use of a car while you were here or did you rely on public transit? What would you recommend to other prospective parents; is public transit adequate or is a personal vehicle necessary?
A: We do not have a car. Public transport is perfect. We live and study in Burnaby, but many of our activities are in downtown Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby. We have competitions and performances in different locations, but we manage to get everywhere by public transport.
We are quite active and try to spend days off exploring the Greater Vancouver area. Public transport is very useful and comfortable.
Q: How have you found the shopping for food and other supplies? Was it easy to find what you needed?
A: Lots of shopping malls, and we live close to Safeway and buy almost all of our groceries there.
Q: How was your year personally? Did you enjoy your experience? Do you plan to stay or go back home? Would you return in the future?
A: We have enjoyed Canada from day one. We are staying here for the next year and hopefully we will move to Canada permanently.
Q: What has been a highlight of your year in Burnaby?
A: My children managed to continue their activities and are actually succeeding in them. So, all their competitions and performances were the highlights.
My older daughter Kamalia goes to music conservatory, theatre (Miscellaneous Production), and Flamenco, and had some performances in dancing and theatre. My younger daughter Jasmine goes to rhythmic gymnastics and figure skating, both on competitive level, and doing very well in both of them, so collected lots of first place and gold medals during last season.
Q: Was there a particular experience, incident, or time of year where you noticed yourself fitting in and feeling a sense of belonging to your new environment and the people here?
A: We all feel like we are supposed to be here.