Exchange student finds Canada a ‘dream come true’

Estonian misses black bread but loves her experience at Northern Collegiate

Anita Voropajev has dreamed of becoming an exchange student since 2011, a dream she’s now experiencing as a student at Northern Collegiate in Sarnia.

A native of Estonia, Anita’s sense of adventure and love of travel have allowed her to get out of her comfort zone to pursue her dream.

She researched other exchange students’ blogs about their experiences to gain more knowledge and has studied various languages such as German, English, and Russian.

Along with the help from Youth For Understanding (YFU), a non-profit organization that offers students ages 15-18 years old to become exchange students, Anita’s dream has come true. Having finished a pre-orientation program back in Estonia prepared her for the upcoming year (September 3, 2015 to the end of July 2016). The YFU continues to give Anita support throughout her experience, helping her when needed.

Anita, realizing that her wish had been granted, wanted to keep her mind and heart open as to what life in Canada would be like.

She discovered that she enjoys the warm summers and the cold snowy winters of Canada, although she was not expecting the September weather to be so warm.

The people she has met and the relationships she has built had changed her life for the better. Along with a youth group from Temple Baptist Church, she travelled to Muskoka Woods for the church’s annual Sno Camp retreat, getting to know her friends on a deeper level.

Anita says she loves the freedom of learning the depth of subjects she takes at Northern and she participates in many of the school activities as a dancer, curler, and a member of the band (jazz and instrumental).

One thing she’s discovered about Canada is that squirrels and chipmunks are commonly seen every day and everywhere, which is not the case in her home country of Estonia, where is is rare to see a squirrel or chipmunk, even though the country is 50% covered in forests.

While misses her family, friends, and black bread (an Estonian delicacy) she would never change the experience she has had in Canada.

A Little About Estonia:

Estonia is a small northern European country that borders the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic Sea, Russia, and Latvia. Its capital city, Tallinn, is known as the quaintest old town in Eastern Europe. Estonia has a population of 1.3 million and is the home to Kiiking, a competitive sport involving a swing that is able to swing a full 360 degrees. The country’s flag has three coloured bands (blue, black, and white) and was adopted back in 1918: Blue represents loyalty, devotion, faith, the seas, lakes, and the sky; Black symbolizes the dark past and the suffering that the Estonians endured; and White is devoted to the strive for enlightenment, virtue, birch bark, snow, and summer nights illuminated by the midnight sun. It is the least religious country in Europe and the world.

Madison Taylor, a grade 12 student at Northern, is on a co-op term with Lambton Shield.

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