- Hailey Veinot, a 22-year-old Canadian, is from Nova Scotia, Canada
- She decided to come to Slovakia to study veterinary medicine
- She told us in an interview about how she perceives the current situation in Slovakia and why she decided for our country
While young Slovaks are fleeing for better education abroad, foreign students are coming to Slovakia. An exception is not even 22-year-old Hailey, who came specifically to Košice. She came to Slovakia at a time when the situation with the pandemic was freer.
How are you spending these rough days?
I lay in bed watching TikToks, Youtube, Netflix, as well as study. I am also an artist, I have been doing commissions for years, so I am blessed to continue to still sell art here! I paint mostly animal portraits, but I have and can do much more. So when I am not doing those things I am going to Aupark for shopping, or talking to friends, my boyfriend, and family on the phone. I am lucky I have many things to keep me busy!
What do you think about the current situation in Slovakia?
I like how Slovakia has done their covid measures, I am glad to see them coming together as a community here in Kosice and following the rules, as well as the national wide testing they did a few weeks ago, that was really proactive.
Have you heard something about slovak mafia? What do you think about it?
I have not! I haven’t heard anything, and now i’m wondering if there is something I should know/ look up!
There were some protests last week in Bratislava and other cities and most of the participants were fascists. Do you think that protests are appropriate in this situation?
I’m not sure if I can answer very well, only because I’m not very knowledgeable in politics, however I do understand that people have a right to protest whether or not I agree with what they are speaking upon. I just hope they are still following Covid Measures,
For how long are you in Slovakia?
I came here at the end of July! So it’s been 4 months, and I’ll be here for 4 years in total!
Did you know where Slovakia was before you came here?
Not at all, and I have to be honest, in Canada we aren’t taught European geography, so you’ll have to take that as my excuse. To this day people from back home still get my boyfriend’s country (Slovenia) and Slovakia confused.
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Did you have expectations?
I expected I would be able to travel more than I have so far, haha but let’s blame that on the pandemic, and not the country!
Did you meet your expectations?
I am very proud of myself. I am extremely happy to be here, I mean, Covid would affect me in any place that I was studying in, so let’s hope that my experience gets even better after covid is over and I get to fully experience what it is like to study and live in Europe! I am in a long distance relationship, so I also had the expectation that when I moved here I would only be a few hours from him and could see him more often, but the global pandemic has also put a stop to that for right now.
Was it hard to get used to living in Slovakia?
No not at all, I would say getting use to it isn’t really difficult, because I came very early before school, and during isolation I was able to read the maps and ask for advice, and then we (my boyfriend and I) got to explore Kosice on our own terms, learn where is closest grocery places, or the mall, and I slowly got accustomed to living here.
What do you like about Slovak culture?
I love the hospitality, I visited my good friend and she made me multiple things for breakfast, made me coffee, gave me fruit, it was so sweet, and I have to say that’s better hospitality than we give in Canada! There certainly are some very sweet, sweet people here.
Is there something you hate about Slovakia?
Hate is a strong word, I can honestly say there is nothing I “hate” here, but there are a few things that I miss from home such as some of the food and products I grew up with, as well as it’s different now that I am Landlocked for the first time in my life. That’s something I never thought I took for granted until now.
Could you compare life in Canada and in Slovakia?
I could create a list to compare almost any subject but I can mention a few! I love how easy it is to travel here, and cheap; In Canada traveling takes a lot of time and money. Secondly, I have come to realize some people aren’t used to the Canadian personality, because I have done a few things to be helpful to strangers and they were so shocked, as well as just the overall friendliness of the typical Canadian.
One comparison that would be a personal thing is because I am so friendly with strangers, it’s normal for me to be cheery, and such, however because I am just learning the language now, I can’t be as cheerful because many locals don’t speak english well. That is fully a personal problem and maybe in 4 years I’ll be joking around with the cashiers like I would at home.
I saw in your videos that you´re learning Slovak language. What do you think about it? It is pretty hard, isn´t it?
Hahaha yes it is hard. I have to say it’s hard because there aren’t any familiar words to english, for example, that’s why french is so easy for english speakers because the words are so similar. However here, not only is there a new alphabet, but there are new pronunciations to all of the letters. I am lucky to have the platform I do by making those Tiktok videos because it honestly has taught me a lot. Some people also don’t realize that i am actually taking a Slovak Language course! So I learn most of my things from that class, and that is what I started making my videos off of.
What do you study?
I am a first year Post-BSc Veterinary Student at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Kosice. Before coming here I did 4 years of my Bachelors of Science in Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Wasn´t there any better choice than Slovakia? Young Slovaks are leaving this country, so it´s unexpected that someone from Canada wants to study here…
I get this question so often, and I wish I could tell every person this, because it’s definitely the largest answer to the question that gets asked. So, I came here because I wanted the opportunity to study vet school in Europe (I did apply to canada as well, but I would have to wait another year). Vet school has always been my dream profession. So when I applied here it’s because they teach in English. I am glad I decided to study here because it actually turned out to be a great option after hearing about a few other vet schools around.
To answer everyone’s question about why I didn’t want to stay in Canada, I want to bring to your attention that when you are born and raised in Canada, many people dream about coming to Europe, like it is here and the dream to go to North America.
I am very fortunate to have been raised in a great country because it has taught me many values and given me the personality I have today, but I don’t think just because someone is coming from a great country, that they must be confined to that country and lifestyle for their whole life. To me it wasn’t about the wealth or culture of my country and that I wanted to “escape” my country, it was that I wanted to experience something different!
I have always wanted to be a vet, so why not do the exact same thing I would be doing in my home, but do it here instead and learn new life lessons, and make new stories! I am very happy with my choice, because I know Canada will always be home, but to grow up and tell people you moved across the world to live, that has to be an awesome story and experience for people to hear.
What was the reaction of your family when you told them about your plans?
My parents are very important to me, and I know it was sad to hear that their daughter was moving very far away from them, but they were very proud that I was following my dream of being a vet, and it was just a little time to process the big move, and reassurance from myself. They reacted how any parent would, and to this day they are still supporting me in my decisions, and I call them a few times a week, so I think the distance has grown on them.
How does your studying process look?
I wake up, have a coffee, take all my classes for the day, and then I have a software system on my computer that is just like a computer version of Flashcards, so I go through all of the flashcards that I made a previous day, I like to take a lot of breaks, which is kind of bad, but usually the flashcards take a few hours, and then I study new terms that I don’t understand, and make new flashcards of what I learned that day. Then I repeat the next day.
And what about your schoolmates? Are they friendly?
All of my schoolmates are foriegn students as well, so they are in the same boat as myself, so it was really nice to come here and share our experiences with each other, and get to see all the cultures that have made up the international programme at UVLF. We all have had a bit of culture shock I think, but maybe in different ways. But hearing how other people had to cope, or adapt to certain things helps me learn to adapt quicker as well. I’m very lucky to have older students as my friends here.
Could you compare educational system in Canada and in Slovakia?
As of right now, I don’t notice anything different that affects me. I will sya, I love how your local students here don’t have to pay to go to university, I think that is an underrated system that should be in Canadian and American universities that allows every student a chance at furthering their education. For my school, I have spoken to students that are in first year vet school in Canada, and we are studying the exact same thing, so i know that the standards for the vet students have been held the same as well.
Are you spending holidays in Slovakia?
I hope to make it to Germany where my boyfriend is, but I am still waiting on some documents. I know I will make it there in due time, after having to follow all traveling guidelines, but if not I have had a few Christmas dinner invitations here in Kosice!