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Life in Canada as an International Student

Canada is a great choice for students who are interested in pursuing higher studies. I had a great time researching universities and colleges before applying here, as there are abundant possibilities. Canada has beautiful landscapes, super friendly people, rational tuition fees, and a reasonable cost-of-living when compared to other western countries. The quality of education is praiseworthy and Canada is indeed a land full of opportunities.
I am from India, and I applied to multiple colleges and universities for various business and marketing related courses. I finally chose Conestoga College – Kitchener, ON, for its course structure and rational tuition fees.

I booked my flights to fly here on August 18th (also it’s the day of my birthday). Tip: Fly on your birthday for a chance to get a free upgrade from economy to business class along with lounge access and you will thank me later. I had booked an Airbnb for 9 days near the Waterloo Campus, since my college orientation started on August 29th. Those nine days were super challenging for various reasons. I utilized the 9 nine days to obtain my SIN number, purchase a SIM card, open a bank account, and finish some college admission procedures. Some of my classmates even used that time for their G1 written test to obtain a driver’s license – I did not opt for it since finding accommodations was challenging for me.

Finding accommodations was a stressful and time-consuming process. Adding to it, I began to feel home-sick already and I was worried about staying in an AirBnB as it was only temporary. After viewing multiple accommodations and submitting applications, I found a decent apartment to live in on August 29th – Happiest day after moving to Canada. I moved in on September 1st.

The week I moved into my flat, I had other formalities to be done. Some important ones included changing the Airbnb address to my apartment address with my bank and my mobile service provider and getting a G1 license. Also, I purchased internet within a week after moving here.
Next, I had to find a part-time job: I planned to find a job before the end of September to make sure I could focus on my coursework in October instead of searching for a job. I updated my CV based on Canadian standards, updated my LinkedIn profile and created an account on Indeed (a career portal). After continuous efforts, I got a part-time job in a nearby mall as a Sales Associate on September 21st. It was not easy to find a job, but I enjoyed the process as I was consistently applying and following up with recruiters and never gave up at all.

People in Canada are nice and friendly. They are protective of the rights of individuals and Canadians, in general, are very polite and respectful. The basic necessities are easily accessible to every individual. Experiencing 4 distinctively different Canadian seasons was exciting although winter was harsh – I enjoyed making a snowman and ginger tea during winter.

The public transportation such as trams and buses are well organized and regular. Hence, commuting to grocery stores or malls is easy and inexpensive. It is easy to find authentic spices and ready to eat curries that are also affordable. Therefore, one will not miss the food from home. Although, Poutine is my new found love.

Canada is a great place to live and start a career and this is indeed a land full of opportunities. Conestoga college in particular has various resources and offers a career-focused education. There is a career center that helps students with a range of services that includes: offering assistance with resume preparation, connecting to employers, strengthening specific skills based on students’ requirements.

Conestoga College has various occasions to engage and meet other students from various cultural backgrounds, through conversation cafés, clubs, and other meet and greet events. Student Engagement and CSI help students to develop professionally and personally. They provide a range of opportunities to get involved and some events and workshops also receive recognition and get added to your Co-Curricular Record along with academic grades. There are several avenues to explore within the college for students to grow and upgrade themselves. The best part of being a student at Conestoga College is the professors are always approachable and they really care for their students. The departments at Conestoga College were supportive and helpful during COVID-19 by offering us grocery gift cards, emergency food services and also financial help to the students who were in need. To sum up, choosing Conestoga College is one of the best decisions I have made, as I myself observed how supportive the college was before and during the pandemic and they genuinely care for their international students in particular. Overall, it feels great to be part this community.

Revathy Jayakumar