Canada attracts students from all over the world. Entering university or college life is exciting, but it also comes with a few challenges. According to The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ study, here are the top four challenges for international students:
(1) Feeling alienated
Adjusting to living and studying in a new country can be difficult logistically, but the social aspect of not having a nearby support system can add to feelings of alienation.
Dee Singh, 22, is from Mumbai, India and is enrolled in a Health Science program at the University of British Columbia. “The first year was tough,” she says of the loneliness she felt. “New food, new culture — even a different style of learning — but joining clubs and being active in the community helped me a lot.”
Some other tips to get socially active in the community:
- Supporting local sports teams
- Attending local events and festivals
These above activities can also help your feeling of self-worth as well as be providing networking opportunities.
Singh says she still gets waves of homesickness, especially around Canadian holidays when the university is quiet and she can feel the heaviness of not having family close by. But, she tries to make the best of her situation – she knows she is only here for four years – so she makes chai and calls home because these rituals remind her of her roots.
(2) Dealing with finances
For many international students, this is their first time living away from home. On top of managing a school workload in another country, they have to manage their money.
If a student is having difficulties managing finances, it’s best to talk to a counsellor about finances early on, so you can make a budget. Financial counselling is offered to students at many post-secondary institutions.
And you can also seek financial advice from banks like RBC. They even offer online tools to help students with budgeting. A quick note, if you open an RBC no monthly fee student bank account today, you can get $60^. Visit rbc.com/starttoday for more details.
(3) Integrating family
If students come to study in Canada as a family with their spouse, one person is entitled to a study permit and the other person is entitled to a work permit. Unfortunately, the person holding the work permit can remain cut off socially from the local community until they have landed a job.
Check your college or university and see if there are any integration programs or counselling available for your family member. To have a positive experience in Canada it’s important that all family members feel settled.
(4) Accessing the labour market
According to Canadian Bureau of International Education’s study, 51% of international students plan to apply for permanent residence in Canada after graduation. And this new study tells us many international students feel the labour market is difficult to gain access to.
Two suggestions that may help – First: attempt to get a co-op placement through school for Canadian work experience. Second: network – joining clubs and attending events to widen exposure in your new community.
International students face unique barriers when obtaining an education in Canada. Taking the first step and participating in programs already in place would help in feeling integrated, settled, and ultimately achieving success. For more advice on studying in Canada, visit http://www.rbc.com/newcomers/international-student