Leaving your neighbourhood and school is challenging for a young person, let alone moving to another continent, but that’s what happened to Nina Maric at 12 when she and her family left their small town in then-dangerous Bosnia for Canada. “It was a big new world of adventures,” says Nina. “It was very exciting for me. I was young enough to cross over any barriers. I had good family support.” She found everything amazing, including grocery shopping: “An entire aisle of cereal! Wow!”
Starting junior high school wasn’t easy. “It was awkward at the beginning, trying to find my place,” says the outgoing Nina. While she spoke English, it wasn’t perfect so she soon learned the skill of memorization which allowed her to make better marks than many Canadian-born students. Schoolwork, especially math, was easier than in her homeland. Before long she felt comfortable. “I felt Canadian in high school once I started to see it wasn’t that difficult to have friends. I got involved in plays and choir as I did at home. Everyone was very welcoming.”
Nina went on to study political science at Dalhousie University, but through King’s College. “As a person I was rediscovering myself and understanding the world. King’s professors were unique and challenging.” After graduating she traveled to Europe on her own and visited her homeland. She has been there several times including a trip with her Croatian-born husband to meet each other’s families. She enjoys visiting but finds the country small with limited choices. “We have more opportunities here. We can do whatever we want as long as we roll up our sleeves and do the work.” Her family has also settled well – her parents work at ISANS, while her sister works in Toronto.
Nina worked in retail and administration and then took a challenging one-year program in public relations at the Nova Scotia Community College. After doing freelance public relations and “temp work” at Saint Mary’s University, she was hired as a recruitment officer, a combination of communications and recruitment. One year later she became Saint Mary’s Online and On-campus Recruitment Coordinator, a job she says is perfect for her. Nina has been there for five years, currently on maternity leave for the birth of her first child, Luka.
Nina is content living in Halifax – she appreciates her calm suburb and also her ability to navigate the city easily. “There are cultural activities, lots of different cuisines, the vibe is great, but winters are long.” Nina is still fluent in Serbo-Croatian, and meets regularly with friends from her homeland, but says this definitely is home. “I don’t feel like an immigrant. I feel very Canadian. When people ask where I’m from I say Canada.” And it doesn’t hurt that she just loves her job. “I have the best job in the world. I am fortunate to love to go to work.”