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From Siberia to Toronto: A Russian Student's Journey Through Canadian University Studies

From Siberia to Toronto: A Russian Student

A Tale of Dreams and Determination: How One Family Transformed Their Lives by Moving from Snowy Siberia to Vibrant Toronto.

We met with our client Marina, who enrolled in a Canadian college and moved to Toronto with her husband and dog.

Marina's Story

The family came from Russia. Back home, around 2018, Marina and her husband Maxim began considering moving abroad, specifically to Canada. The couple studied English, gradually prepared their documents, and tried to research immigration independently. For example, they registered for Express Entry, but did not have enough points to receive an invitation.

In 2022, due to political events at home, the couple moved to Kazakhstan and spent a year there. During this time, Marina and Maxim came across our free webinar on education in Canada, after which they immediately booked a consultation with one of our specialists ― Alexander.

Marina and Maxim agreed that studying was the ideal immigration route for them, but they had different opinions on who should enroll. The issue was that Maxim's English level was significantly higher. However, they eventually decided that Marina would be the one to study.

"Now, I think it was the right decision," shares Marina. "Probably, it was better for me to improve my English, go to university, which also helps to polish it to the required level, and Maxim can now easily look for a job, which he is doing."

By profession, Marina is an HR manager. Before moving to Canada, she worked for a company she really liked for four years, but she had to leave for the sake of her dream and future prospects.

Marina enrolled in the business management program at Georgian College. Initially, she considered enrolling in an HR program, but our specialist Alexander advised her to consider another direction to avoid questions from immigration officers, given her extensive experience in HR.

Enrollment Without IELTS

To enroll in Canada, you need to show previous education and your level of English. Marina had an A2-B1 level, which wasn't sufficient for studying. But the college gifted her 12 weeks of English language courses at the Canadian language school ILAC.

Studying at ILAC was not easy. The training was five days a week for three hours, and Marina had to combine it with work and do a lot of homework. Additionally, internal exams are held every two weeks at the school. But Marina significantly improved her English level.

"Every class was something new for me in terms of level," says Marina.

According to Marina, ILAC internal exams are similar to IELTS and TOEFL. All students complete tasks with cameras on, and the testing has a set time. The exam consists of several parts:

  • writing: describing a diagram or graph and writing an essay;
  • reading: three texts with questions for each;
  • listening: listening to short dialogues and an academic lecture and answering questions;
  • speaking: this part is not in ILAC testing; speaking skills are assessed during regular classes.

Marina had previously taken IELTS, but she found ILAC exams less difficult and stressful because there are two weeks of preparation before the test, and the atmosphere during the exam is more relaxed than at IELTS. Additionally, exams are held regularly, and skills improve with each attempt.

The 12 weeks provided were just enough for Marina to reach the required level for college. As she admits, strong motivation helped ― due to tight deadlines and financial considerations, she was eager to fit into the 12 weeks and not purchase additional weeks of study at ILAC.

Obtaining Canadian Visas and the Flight

The processing time for the student visa took about two months, which is quite fast. The visa was obtained in November 2023, and the studies began in January 2024 ― Canadian universities usually have several intakes a year.

For the flight to Canada, Marina and Maxim used the ArriveCAN app to declare the money they were bringing. Upon arrival, they needed to get a study permit for Marina and a work permit for Maxim at the border. These documents are issued based on visas. Since Marina received a student visa, Maxim, as the spouse of a student, applied for a work visa.

They showed the officer a rental agreement, although many arrive without one, as well as the amount in their bank accounts and the college admission letter.

Meeting with the client

How Education in Canada is Structured

The education system in Canada is very different from the Russian one. Every week, Marina completes various assignments and projects that affect the final grade for each subject. The final exam gives only 35% of the grade; the rest of the points must be earned during the semester.

"It's a bit difficult for me as a student, but in terms of where the quality of education is higher, I think the Canadian approach really enhances you and your knowledge as a specialist," says Marina.

Marina's group consists of about 35 people, mostly aged 25-30, but there are also students over 35 who already have families and successful careers back home. Many students in Marina's group are from India, Latin America, and there is one girl from Russia.

Marina studies at the new campus of Georgian College. According to her, the campus is very comfortable and modern, with a designer interior and many outlets in the classrooms for students to plug in their laptops. The campus even has soundproof booths where students can focus on their tasks or just have some alone time.

Marina believes that the quality of teaching in Canada is much higher than in Russia. Teachers try to engage students in the class, even if it is just a lecture. But there are also more "boring" subjects.

"I recommend choosing a program that interests you at least a bit," advises Marina.

Every college program has both mandatory and elective courses. Before the start of the semester, a student has to choose which courses to attend and create their schedule. Some courses can be taken online. Marina attends classes on campus three days a week and online one day a week.

An interesting feature of Canadian universities is that courses are often taught by practitioners. For example, Marina's program includes a course on Canadian labor law taught by a professor who owns an HR consulting company. There are many such professors at the college.

Despite the workload, Marina manages to explore Toronto and its attractions with her husband.

Impressions of Toronto

Marina and Maxim spent most of their lives in Siberia and then a year in Astana, which is also a fairly cold city, so it was a surprise for the couple that it is so warm in Toronto in winter. Marina laughs that before moving to Canada, she bought a warm down jacket and winter boots, but she doesn't wear them.

The couple plans to visit Niagara Falls soon.

Advantages of Education in Canada

Hundreds of thousands of students from around the world come to Canada not only for quality education. Graduating from a university is a reliable path to permanent resident status.

After graduating from a public university, you have the right to obtain a work permit for a period of 1 to 3 years. You then have two options: apply for permanent residence immediately after graduation or after one year of working in Canada. In both cases, you will have high chances.

If you dream of immigrating to Canada, don't put it off. Start building your successful future with our help today. We assist with admission to Canadian universities, as well as immigration through economic programs:

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