Newcomer Story: Soledad Orcorchuk

Soledad OrcorchukMoving to a new country is tough. Now imagine going through it during a global pandemic. On top of your usual worries, you’d have to deal with cancelled or changing flight schedules, COVID tests, quarantining, isolation, etc. All these in your first few days in a foreign land. This is what Sole and her family went through when they moved to Manitoba. But despite this, she says that being here is a dream fulfilled.

A dream come true

Soledad and her husband Carlos are from Argentina. Before they had a child, they took regular vacations abroad, usually to the United States and Brazil. Sole remembers that they enjoyed their trips so much that both of them dreaded the thought of going home. “I think this was the thing that made us think about it (immigrating). We were spending most of our time living the life that we didn’t want and only 15 days in a year living the life that we want to live. We thought, ‘what are we doing?’” she said.

At this point, the couple remembered a friend who had been living in Saskatchewan for 10 years. She used to tell them about life in Canada. This started the string of events that would lead them to apply for immigration under the Skilled Worker stream. “It was a very long process but we were 100% sure that we would find here the life that we want,” Sole said.

“We thought that it was sad that we only lived the life of our dreams only 15 days in a year.”

It took five years for their application to be approved. By this time, they already had a three-year-old son. “We came here a year after the pandemic started. Maybe it was the wrong moment to come here but we had to leave our country. We went through a lot of things in our last days in Argentina but we know that everything was worth it because now we are living the life that we wanted to live and we are so happy,” she said.

Feels like home

Sole’s and her family landed in Toronto on March 15, 2021. They had to spend three days in a hotel for quarantine before they could travel to Manitoba. When they finally arrived in Winnipeg, they had to be under lockdown again for a few days. “We had to do another quarantine here but fortunately, we were in a beautiful and cozy Airbnb home so the time there was wonderful. We even had a backyard so my son could play. We are so happy to be here. It’s like a dream!” Sole said.

Sole is brimming with positivity but she’s not blind to the challenges that lay before them. Among her major concerns include improving her English, fighting off isolation, and as early as now, preparing for winter. Meanwhile, her husband was focused on getting a job as soon as possible (he is an Industrial Engineer who also has a degree in Administration).

It was a good thing that the couple already knew about newcomer serving agencies like Manitoba Start and English Online from their pre-arrival training from SOPA. With help from coaches from Manitoba Start, Sole’s husband found a job as a strategic analyst. Sole, meanwhile, enrolled in LINC Home Study with English Online so she can hone her language skills while taking care of their three-year old at home.

“With Ruxandra, I started learning in a different way. She is my support, but it’s up to me, my goals, and doing research. I like that part where I take responsibility about my improvement.”

“Back in Argentina I was most of the time studying grammar. I’m not saying that it’s not useful, yes it’s very useful but with Ruxandra, I started learning in a different way. She is my support, but it’s up to me, my goals, and doing research. I like that part where I take responsibility about my improvement,” Sole said. Her LINC HS instructor, Ruxandra Nicolescu, could not be more impressed with her commitment to her studies.

Sole adds, “I don’t have too much time to study. I need to find gaps (free time) for studying. I think that studying LINC is a good way to take advantage of those gaps being at home. So I 100% recommend it.” As she continues to make great strides in improving her communication skills, Sole also looks forward to getting more career training so she could get a part-time job when her son starts school in the near future.

Tips to other newcomers

Sole shares the following helpful tips:

  1. Practice speaking English. “Don’t be afraid about making mistakes when talking. Always practice. I talk to my neighbours, the cashier, even my son, and practice what I learned. Talk a lot and try to use new vocabulary.”
  2. Don’t stay isolated. “It is so important to talk to someone if you’re struggling with something because there are many people who are able to help. It doesn’t matter if they’re Canadian, Argentinian, or Chinese. So many people want to help.”
  3. Don’t forget where you came from. “A lot of people come to Canada and find a better life. I think it is important not to forget where you came from. In my experience, I love my family and I love that I was born there (Argentina) but there are so many things that I don’t agree with in my country. I came here thinking that Argentinian people felt the same. But when we came here, Argentinian people helped us a lot. During the quarantine, we weren’t able to go to the 7/11 to buy milk, for example. Many Argentinians came to my house with donations, with food for my child. They made us feel we matter. I started feeling proud. I had this idea about Argentina and Argentinians and I had to travel far to realize that Argentinian people are really good people.”
  4. Stay positive.
  5. Set short term goals. It will be easier to reach them. And at that point that you reach them, be confident that you will reach your next goal. But it has to be for the short term so you can reach it, touch it.”

It’s clear that challenges – the usual ones or the pandemic kind – could not dampen Sole’s spirit. In fact, she says that “sometimes, my husband and I can’t remember when we first arrived. It’s only almost five months but we feel like we have been here for more time! We feel that we belong here,” she said.