Newcomer Story: Grace Eun Jung Yang

Coming to Winnipeg was the break Grace needed. The life she led in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, was fast-paced and fiercely competitive. Despite having a successful dental practice, Dr. Grace Yang found that the dense population made living there highly stressful. After applying successfully to the MPNP for Business program, she and her family moved to Winnipeg in May last year.

Going for a fresh start

“I have three major reasons for moving to Canada. First, the air pollution is getting worse in Seoul. We had to wear masks whenever we went out. I was worried that it would cause health problems for us like lung cancer, dementia, or allergies. Second, we moved for our son’s education. I know that he will have a good education here. And third, I needed to take a rest,” Grace said.

Grace relates that the workload was heavy, not only for her and her husband, but for their young son as well. It was not uncommon for young students in Seoul to come home from school and then go to a private academy for more classes. This worried Grace as she saw that depression because of poor grades was becoming common. Some kids even commit suicide due to the pressure. Wanting a more balanced life for their son, the couple made it a priority to seek a better environment. Today, they are thankful that their 12 year old has adjusted to school life in Winnipeg. They are seeing to it that he has enough time for play and recreation besides school work.

“Sometimes when I speak English, I’m really afraid of making a mistake. I think that is why many of us are reluctant to speak English. But my tip is not be afraid of mistakes. It’s natural to make a mistake because we were not born Canadians. Just keep learning.”

Optimism, positivity continuous learning and a dash of preparedness

Despite her original plan to relax for a bit, Grace started to work two months after landing in Winnipeg. Currently working full time as an associate dentist, she came to Winnipeg ready. A graduate of dentistry, holder of a master’s degree and a trained orthodontic specialist, Grace began her licensure process in her home country. She then took the required five exams in Canada and passed them all in one take. She is now enjoying her work which leaves time for other things. “The pace is totally different. I have a lot of time to spend with my family,” Grace said. Her schedule also gave her time to take courses with English Online. “I joined EO last April. I participated in Coffee Chats to improve my speaking ability. I also enrolled in the LINC Home Study Program in August,” Grace said. Although she says she has the opportunity to speak often at work, Grace still wants to improve her conversational English. “Even if I’m speaking English every day at my workplace, I only use professional language. I want to learn diverse expressions. When I joined the Coffee Chats, I was able to practice conversational English,” she said.

This is one habit that Grace wants newcomers to have – to always continue learning. “People are afraid of learning English, or of anything new. Sometimes when I speak English, I’m really afraid of making a mistake. I think that is why many of us are reluctant to speak English. But my tip is to not be afraid of mistakes. It’s natural to make a mistake because we were not born Canadians. Just keep learning,” Grace said.

A positive and optimistic person, Grace didn’t really feel that she had major challenges to speak of when they landed in Manitoba. “Many people were warning me that Winnipeg will be too cold. But for me, Winnipeg is not too cold and the people here are really nice,” Grace said. What she did find a bit challenging was the thought of starting her own business from scratch. Thinking of putting up her business without her usual support group can be a little daunting even if she had experience running her own dental clinic for more than 10 years in Seoul. “But I like challenges (and adventures), plus I always look on the bright side,” Grace said.

A great place to live in

Before she takes that big step, Grace and her family are enjoying the relaxed pace for now. One thing that she does long for from her home country is dining at her favorite Korean restaurants. “Even if we eat Korean dishes at home, I miss eating out. That is why I’m listing down all the food that I miss and make sure that I eat them all when I visit my country next year, Grace said, laughing.

In the meantime, the Yang family are also enjoying Manitoba’s natural beauty. “I think my family really likes Winnipeg. There are lots of beautiful lakes, it has a beautiful landscape, and we can see the Northern Lights. I actually saw it a couple of weeks ago from my house,” Grace said. “I also think it’s a good place for new immigrants to settle in compared to large cities. Winnipeg is a great place to live in and it has substantial opportunities for all,” she added.