Day 101 - Marina (4th person I approached)
April 11, 2014 - Marina grew up living on a working dairy farm, in Dewdney, located some 15kms east of Mission, here in British Columbia. Her parents are Italian immigrants. When she was young Marina wanted to learn to speak Italian. As there was no Italian immersion schools nearby, Marina went to a French immersion school.
“My father was learning to speak English and I wanted to be able to speak Italian,” she told me. “I do speak some Italian, but often get my words or the order of the words mixed up. We spoke English at home.”
There was one other Italian family who farmed nearby. The majority of neighbouring farms where managed by Dutch families.
“I never felt I completely fit in any neighbourhood. I took ballet and music lessons at an early age, and when I hung around with the other farm kids they all made fun of my ballet and music classes. When I was around my ‘city’ friends at ballet or music, they always mentioned that I ‘lived on a farm.’ I wasn't ostracized. I just felt special wherever I went,” she said.
As for living on a farm and having pets, Marina told me,
”It stared with hamsters. I had two of them, and that was the result of asking for pets for quite some time. Then as soon as I got the hamsters, I started to ask for a cat. I learned as much as I could about cats, how to feed and care for them. My parents where afraid they’d end up looking after the cat, even though we lived on a farm. Once I got the cat, I started asking for a pony. My best friend and I both learned as much as we could about ponies, and asked almost daily to get one. We wanted to share a pony. Then my friend Julie knew someone that had a pony that they offered to give to her. So of course I told my parents that Julie was getting a pony and they agreed to get me one as well. We found out alter that our parents had decided they were going to get us a pony for our 13th birthday’s. I was just telling Julie the other night, had we been smarter, we could have worked that deal out much sooner!”
When Marina’s friend Julie moved away, they spent every Friday night talking on the phone for the first three years.
“We don’t speak as often now, but she’s getting married next year, and I’m flying out to be a bridesmaid for the wedding.”
Marina's parents were big on education, and chores around the farm only happened during the summer months.
"It wasn't like some kids who got up and milked the cows before school. My parents paid me for the work I did as well. Not a lot, but I did manage to save a little bit of money that went into an account for the pony," Marina said.
Marina became serious about horse riding, and training. She had a coach who was grooming her for competitions. Training for three-day events, or "Eventing" which consists of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. After graduating from school, Marina took a year off school and spent all her time working with her coach and training full-time.
“It’s an expensive and competitive sport, so all the money I made working went back into my training,” Marina said.
"After a year of working and training, I decided that it was going to be too expensive to pursue it at the next level, and went back to school.”
Marina started studying business at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).
“I figured that if I went into a business program, I could study to become an accountant. That could be a somewhat seasonal job, and allow me to pursue horse trials again.”
The UFV had an exchange program that allowed Marina to travel and study at the same time. She spent a semester in Nice, France “to work on my French”, and a semester in Turin, Italy, “to improve my Italian.” She also spent some time travelling around and doing volunteer work.
When she returned to Canada and the UFV, Marina changed her plans.
“I wasn't ever that interested in business. I was taking it to go into a field that I had no interest in. So I changed my program and started studying English Literature. I’ve always been a reader and love books, and writing. It took me five years in total and then I graduated.”
Marina has since moved to Vancouver and shares an apartment with two other women.
“I’m going to UBC (the University of British Columbia) doing my pre-requisites to get into medical school. I was always interested in sciences, even back in high-school. On a personal level I still love writing, and books. I’ve spent the last year getting the courses I needed to complete done. I’m just finishing up my biochemistry now. I wrote my MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) knowing that I had only done about one third of the recommended courses. But I passed that, and so I’ve applied to UBC. I only applied to the one school for the first round. Now I’m waiting to hear,” she says.
I asked Marina what she’d like to do once she has her medical degree.
“I want to go up North. There’s a program that focusses on rural medicine. I hear that rural practitioners have a high burnout rate. It’s intense, and most have two disciplines, like General Physician and Emergency Care. But I want to do something that makes a difference and that gives back. I think doing that for even five years would be something that makes me feel good about making a contribution. (*Fact Check - see link below.)
Marina is the oldest of three children. She has a brother who is three years younger and a sister that is five years younger.
“We are definitely a close family. We bicker and squabble like all families, but the five of us get along really well. I think being the oldest I’m aware that I want my younger brother and sister to feel respected. I always tried to remember to ask them their opinion, and to hear their viewpoint. Older doesn’t always mean better. Of course growing up my brother and I weren’t so close because, well, he’s a boy. He would break things of mine, and just be annoying. I remember when I was about fifteen realizing that I hadn’t spent much time with him. So I started playing his video games with him. As we’ve gotten older, we have more in common as adults and I think our childhood was the foundation for that. My sister is my best friend.” #notastranger
*Fact Check - http://bit.ly/RbM4mX