Marija Petricevic

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In this clip Marija remembers flying to Canada, and the difficulty she had communicating with English speakers. She recommends that everyone learns a second language, because you never know when you will need it.


I immigrated to Canada with my two young children on the 27th of July 1968. My husband Steve left in May 1968, because he wanted to make sure he had a job and a roof over his head before I came with my two daughters. We got our documents as landed immigrants in Vienna, Austria.

It was a very long and exhausting journey, because I had to travel alone with two small children. Sonja was three, and Suzanna two years old. We traveled on the train from Zagreb, Croatia to Vienna, and on the plane from Vienna to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to Toronto, and from Toronto to Calgary. Due to the shortage of seats, I had to have one child on my lap for the whole trip from Toronto to Calgary. It was easier when we were in Vienna and flying with Lufthansa, because I had learned German in school. It was very hard at the airport in Toronto and Air Canada, because I didn’t speak English. Suzanna had a fever, and I didn’t know how to ask for juice or water. In desperation, I asked for “milch” that sounds like “milk,” and my little girls were very happy to get some kind of liquid.

The German language helped me to communicate for the first year until I had learned some English. My advice to young people is to learn a second language, because you never know when it will come in handy.