Hi! My name is Anastasiia, and I am an international student from Ukraine. I am graduating from the Marketing Management program (Communications option) this June, and this is my story.
I chose BCIT here in Canada as my post-secondary institution because a few BCIT alums had recommended its excellent Marketing program to me. I started my studies in September 2020, amidst the first year of the pandemic. Back then, Canada had travel restrictions, and the borders were closed. Because of that, I had to study online from Ukraine for my first two terms. I don’t think I can complain a lot about the time difference (I know many students studying from Eastern Asia had it much worse), but I will not miss finishing exams at 4 am.
When I finally arrived in Canada, I was thrilled. English was not something I struggled with, as I was lucky enough to have seen the world and studied English. Canada’s cultural diversity excited me and expanded my worldview even more. But, at the time, being only 18 and in charge of creating a successful life in another country did feel stressful.
During the first few months here, I noticed some changes. I felt that I became more extroverted and ambitious, more of a go-getter. I tried dissecting the origin of this feeling. My current theory is that it is a mechanism of survival, basically a way to self-protect and adapt to my new surroundings. It encouraged me to be constantly out of my comfort zone. Though I must say that there were benefits (I got involved in many projects and clubs), I also walked a very tricky path that threatened burnout. For ways to overcome burnout, check out my other article in this issue: “7 Tips for Overcoming Burnout.”
These last three months of my program have been extremely challenging, and the reason is far beyond just writing exams or finding new housing. The political situation in my home country created a wound that I cannot heal. All my family and friends are there, so the pain can be overwhelming. Still, there are always things we cannot influence, and this is one of them. However, what I can do is empower myself to continue living my life to the fullest, despite all the pain. For anyone in a similar situation, please avoid being hard on yourself and allow yourself to move through these emotions at your own pace.
As for me, I have Ukrainian friends here, and I am grateful because we have been able to share the pain. We have gotten together to make comfort food to heal our souls. Our top choice is borscht, which is common in the Eastern European culture but originated in Ukraine. It culturally warms us from the inside. It is not the quickest soup to make, but once you make one pot, it will last a wonderfully long time. So, as my gift to you, read on for my recipe.
Borscht… culturally warms us from the inside.
• 1.5-2 litres water
• 400 g pork or beef, in chunks and attached to bones (it’s tastier when bones are kept)
• 2 small beets
• 1 carrot
• 3 medium onions
• 4-5 tbsp sunflower oil
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 300 g fresh white cabbage, shredded • 4 medium potatoes, diced
• Salt, herbs like bay leaves and finely chopped parsley to taste
• 1 tbsp sour cream per serving
1. Pour 1.5-2 litres of water into a saucepan, add meat, and cook over medium heat. Once the water boils, remove the foam and place the lid on. Simmer for 90 minutes. Wash and clean beets and carrots. Grate the beets with a large grater and the carrots with a medium grater. Dice the onions.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir in carrots and onions and fry for 5 minutes before adding the beets. Sprinkle lemon juice on the beets to make your borscht a vibrant red. Keep frying for another 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste. Stir and fry for another 5-7 minutes to form the roast.
3. Remove the meat from the broth to cool, then toss the shredded cabbage into the broth. After 5-10 minutes, add the diced potatoes.
4. Chop the meat into small chunks, discard the bones, and return the meat to the borscht. Add salt and the roast (from step 2), then give it a stir. Sprinkle in herbs, then cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
5. The borscht is ready! Serve with sour cream and garnish as needed. Enjoy!