Ekaterina Rogaeva

Country of Origin:

Russian Federation


Adjusting to Life in Canada


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When Ekaterina first came to Canada, she was unable to speak English. In this clip she describes how much she has changed since arriving in Canada, and the differences between Canada and Russia, her home country.


My name is Ekaterina Rogaeva, and I am currently working as Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. I have my own laboratory, which is mainly in the interest of genetic Hunter’s and Parkinson’s disease.

I came to Canada in 1992, mainly because at that time in Russia, there were some difficulties with finding resources – money for research – and although my PhD program was wonderful, and I did graduate from one of the top universities in Moscow. However, I found that I could not apply myself in science. Therefore, my family, which was, at that time, consisting of two kids and my husband as well, we decided to come for research opportunities, and accepted the position as Post-Doctoral Fellow in Dr. Hyslop’s laboratory.

The most difficult part for me to adjust myself was the lack of ability to speak English. When I came I was not able to understand, or convey myself, in a clear manner, so I was using the wrong words. Even worse, I wasn’t able to help my children with homework, or even register my kids in school, and to choose what area to live. So I’ve experienced many difficulties, mainly because of my poor ability to speak English.

Of course, I was missing my family, especially my twin sister. I have an identical twin sister in Russia, and we were never separated before, so I found it extremely difficult to not be able to speak to her daily. At that time it was quite expensive to call.

From my heart, I think that Canada is the greatest country in the world, although I still very much love Russia. It’s almost like for me to have two children with different personalities, but I still love them in a different way. Canada is, for me, first of all kindest, and a generous country. I never felt myself as a second-class citizen here, mainly because whenever I had a frustration, I was always given some help from different types of sources. I believe in Canada, if you truly want to incorporate yourself, you will find a way, because it is not only one type of help that exists. It could be English as a Second Language course. I learned how to speak English in quite an unusual way, because there was a Toastmaster’s Club, which was a very nice experience for me.

I’ve always felt that I’m welcome, even at the time when I didn’t have my citizenship yet, I still felt accepted. That’s what makes Canada a very special place for me, because I know from my classmates, they have quite different feelings in Europe, because it’s much more difficult to be an immigrant in a little country. Canada also, for me, is beautiful by nature, and very close to Russia in a way because it is the second biggest country in the world after Russia, and I like the fact that it is international. Again, because Russia has one hundred nationalities, so I get used to it, living in big cities like Moscow.

So, to me, I finally found myself in love with both countries, and I never lost my citizenship in Russia, so it’s not like I’m bitter. So I feel like it’s huge luck for me to come here.