July 29, 2020 1:43 pm Leave your thoughts
Hello dear readers and fellow bloggers,
I hope you are all safe and healthy.
In this post, I would like to share with you more details about my experience as an international student. This post is specifically aimed toward newcomers to this beautiful country.
For those of you who missed my first post, I mentioned that this is my fourth year here in Canada and that I am originally from Morocco. What was on my mind when I was flying to Ottawa and leaving my family for an unknown period: nothing much, ironically. The thing is, Canada for me was never “the plan”. It was more of a back-up plan that I didn’t give much thought to because it was my dad who applied for me. I was in Germany spending summer with my cousins when I received a message from my dad saying: “Lina, why don’t you think about Canada…”
At that time, I was one month away from starting my first year at an engineering school in Morocco, so I was very confused by his suggestion. I had no intention of leaving behind my beloved family and going to an unknown country. However, one brilliant idea started shining so brightly in my mind that I couldn’t dismiss it: independence. I needed to learn it since I was heavily dependent on my family’s support (emotionally, physically and financially). So I came back from Germany to pack my things and leave in 3 days, which meant I really had no time to build expectations or make plans.
With that being said, I would like to tell you what I wish someone has told me 4 years ago 😀
1. Just because it’s really hot in the summer, doesn’t mean it’s not going to freeze during winter
My Moroccan genes didn’t know what hit them when the temperature dropped below 0 LoL! I don’t even know how to explain it: It’s the kind of cold that goes all the way to your bones? I recommend that you get yourself quality boots and a very warm coat, because they’ll have to last for quite a long time…And please take long walks outdoors during spring and summer, there are some magical and mesmerizing spots that definitely make up for the long winter!
2. Get that driving license as soon as you can
Having a car can save you from a lot of trouble, trust me! And that’s coming from a person who still didn’t get one and has ripped almost every shoe from walking many kilometers daily. Mobility becomes a very big concern when you don’t have a car. You start thinking twice about pretty much going anywhere. You will vividly remember this after doing your groceries… Also, the process of getting your driving license takes at least a year here in Canada. So, the sooner the better!
3. A+ are no good without work experience
Coming from a country where most parent’s first concern is their kids’ grades, having the best grades you can to not disappoint your family will be your primary concern.
First of all, please don’t do something to live up to anyone’s expectations, and keep in mind that your family loves you unconditionally. Secondly, if you want to get A+ for yourself, that’s great… as long as you keep in mind that’s not enough to build a solid C.V. Also, you learn through work more than any class or exam can teach you, and that’s a fact. If you can’t find the job that you are passionate about from the beginning, that’s completely normal. But doing different side jobs or volunteering in the field that you aspire to work on in the future will get you there faster than anyone.
4. It’s okay to start with “an omelet egg” cooking level… just keep going
If you are not a whizz at cooking just like me, raise your half-cooked egg in the air Lol! It can be frustrating at the beginning because, well, you want to eat something good and not just… edible! But don’t give up trying and don’t settle for ordering food (both expensive and not healthy), and who knows? You might even be able to unlock the lasagna level after a few weeks!
5. Study in a group of one to two people who complete you
I spent my 3 first years studying alone, for pretty much all my classes. I did well but I was studying 2 times more than when I started studying with my classmate, who is now also my fiancé :)! We were able to finish our homework much faster and each one of us completed the other in one aspect of the class. The other person will point out your mistakes and correct you before going to the exam clueless. Also, the study group shouldn’t be too large to avoid wasting time on side talks.
6. Ask around… even if you don’t feel comfortable
This one I had to learn the hard way. I am the kind of person who used to be most of the time stuck in my own thoughts and have to calculate how to talk and come across another person before doing it. Well, it doesn’t work at all when you’re alone in a new country. You need to go find those opportunities, or they will never come to you. I gained a lot of courage too by watching how brave and straightforward my fiancé is when approaching other people, because he simply doesn’t care what other people think of him.
7. Take care of your emotional and mental health… that’s the priority!
This is vital, because without it, you won’t be able to function as your normal self or be the person that you deserve to be. Treating yourself with love and care should always be your first concern, because it can easily lose its priority when faced with so much studying, work and the stress that comes with that. The homesickness is always there, no matter what, but taking time to talk with your loved ones every day makes it much more bearable. And always remember: You are not alone!
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate all your kind messages and feedback, it means a lot!
May peace be with you,