Mixed in with the thousands of Albertans and Canadians who apply and get accepted into Red Deer College, are international students.
They choose to come to RDC for a variety of reasons, including getting their Canadian equivalency for their already earned education, exploring a new country or learning English.
Anita Enns, 24, an outgoing young traveler, was born in what is now Uzbekistan, but because of her family’s German heritage they were able to move to Nord-Rhein-Westfalen in Germany when she was three.
She finished her training as a childcare assistant there when she was 20 and decided she wanted to explore the world.
Friends of hers were in Red Deer and she came here on a travel VISA in 2009 and worked in the Central Alberta city. She met her boyfriend and they went out traveling again together. But eventually came back to Red Deer in 2012.
She enrolled at Red Deer College in the early learning and childcare program, similar to her education in Germany.
“I really wanted to go back into my profession after traveling around so much,” said Enns.
“I was looking at the program and I thought ‘that’s perfect.’ I know a lot and have a base knowledge, but it is different because it is English.”
Though the program lengths are similar, both two year programs in Germany and Canada, Enns said the biggest difference was the hierarchy and structure.
“We had to listen a lot, we had to write a lot, there was no real communication with the instructor.
“It was really direct, you have to be on top of things and there were personal barriers, it was like that is your teacher and you’re the student,” said Enns.
“Here it is all equal. Same thing with jobs, you can talk openly to your boss and you can hang out with your boss, it doesn’t matter. It is really comfortable.”
Her move to Canada was her first time leaving her parent’s place so it was a bit shocking.
“I could actually afford a big house, we were living with roommates, but it was a big house,” said Enns. “In Germany if you move out you have a bad apartment, except if you have money.”
She could also afford her own car.
Alexander Keeper, 31, came to Canada with his wife Luba, 27, and their son Ilya, 5, trying to build a better life for his family.
Born in Moldova, located near Romania and Ukraine, he moved around living in Germany, Siberia and Moscow.
After finishing his second university degree in Moldova he moved with his family to Russia.
After living in Russia for four years, two in Siberia by himself and two in Moscow with his son and wife, they decided they would come to Canada.
“We opened the map and looked at where we can go,” said Keeper.
“We had some choices and we could choose between Gatineau, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary.”
From there they narrowed it down to the Calgary or Toronto areas and because they already had some friends, who had previously been to Moldova as missionaries, living in Three Hills they chose to move out to Alberta.
The missionaries helped the Keeper family out when they came to Canada in May 2012.
One of the factors in deciding where they would live was to go to improve their language skills.
While they could have moved to a larger city Keeper said they could have easily fallen in with a small pocket of their culture and never assimilated into Canada’s culture and language.
“If you are in that community for a long time you will lose your ability to improve your English,” said Keeper. “You find a way to use only a few words in English and mostly your Russian with people you know. We want to assimilate into this society and be a part of it.”
While Calgary was considered, it was too big and would have cost the family more money.
Whereas Red Deer has the same conveniences, but is not as costly to live in.
Keeper is a student at Red Deer College and is working towards getting his education from Eastern Europe recognized in Canada.
“Now I’m attending this English course here at the college,” said Keeper. “Because I want to continue my education as an accountant and I have two Bachelor degrees in my country and I hope to take here the classes to get my equivalency.”
He is working with the Alberta International Qualification Assessment Service, which says his two degrees are similar, but not equal, to a bachelor of commerce in Canada.
In his first few days in Canada Keeper couldn’t believe he was here.
“First of all here it was everything is big,” said Keeper.
“Big food, big cars, big houses everything is big. Then it was how people are so friendly.”
In Moldova Keeper didn’t have much access to hockey, but now that he is in Canada he has followed the sport a little more. He specifically follows the Russian players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk.
People opened their doors and invited the Keeper family over for dinner or into their home.
Enns shared the impression of friendly Canadians when she first arrived in the country.