Voices Abroad

An update from StMU students participating in the Ukrainian Catholic University Exchange Program

Correspondence by: Kristina Siroishka

After arriving in Lviv by train via Kyiv, we began a week full of meeting new people and acquainting ourselves with the city and school. On Monday October 29th, we were met in the morning by Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) student Sophia. She showed us how to use the (very crowded) tram to arrive at UCU for a whopping 1/4 of a cent. At UCU, we met Galyna, Yaryna, and Yuliia, who welcomed us and walked us through the itinerary of our first week and made sure we felt comfortable in the city and with our accommodations. We were given a tour of the UCU campus by two energetic first-year students who were SO PROUD of their school… and rightly so! UCU has world-class facilities and a new library that rivals the Taylor Family Digital Library at the University of Calgary. We experienced their dorms, cafeteria, and classrooms and were very impressed by the small class sizes and feeling of love and religion. It reminded us of home and St. Mary’s University making it clear why these two schools have such a strong relationship. Following our UCU tour, another student, Julia (who previously exchanged to St. Mary’s), showed us around the main City Center of Lviv- making us feel like locals!

Tuesday, October 30th allowed us to go to Lviv Linguistic Gymnasium (LLG) where we would be student-teaching for the next month. We met the Deputy Director of Foreign Languages, Yaroslava, and she explained to us that LLG is a secondary school (Grades 5-11) which focuses on Languages and all students must take a minimum of three foreign languages: German, English, and their choice of a third language. Students at LLG study approximately 23 different subjects and have very little free time- they are incredibly hard-working and intelligent. Yaroslava welcomed us with coffee and chocolates (which Lviv happens to be famous for- I know, it’s a tough life.) We learned we will be with different Cooperating Teachers and their respective classes and I was ecstatic to learn I would be with some of the youngest students who bring life and energy into the classroom!

After a work day to prepare, we presented information to students and staff at UCU about Canada, Alberta, Calgary, St. Mary’s, and the Bachelor of Elementary Education program. We covered everything from the Rocky Mountains, Canadian stereotypes, and the Calgary Stampede to what food to order in our cafeteria! Overall, there was a great response and student’s interests were peaked about the opportunity to travel to St. Mary’s and learn more about our country.

Overall, I am absolutely loving Lviv. It has the vibe of an older European city with a beautiful opera house, old cathedrals, and trees of every shade of yellow and orange- I couldn’t feel luckier. The city is young and people are kind and patient with my shaky use of the Ukrainian! We can walk everywhere, are staying right beside the City Center and are trying a new restaurant every night! I am looking forward to teaching at LLG and creating relationships with the students and staff while practicing my teaching in a high-calibre school setting.

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