Dreams vs reality: International student's journey to Fanshawe College
Credit: KERRA SEAY
Moving to a foreign country can be hard, but Fanshawe's International Centre tries to make the transition as seamless as possible.
International students spend almost three times more than domestic students for the college fees. They come with all the enthusiasm they could muster with strong determination to change their lives. Perhaps they see luxury when they envision their life in Canada.
However, there are many reality checks that catch these students offguard, and some of them to such an extent that they completely loose sight as to why they came in the first place.
The students in this article wish to remain anonymous.
“I didn’t think. I had to get a job. I was so blind that I went for an interview and missed my mid-term. I failed that course last semester. I think I have wasted enough money here. I should go back home,” said a student at Fanshawe from India.
“I came here to make money. I am enrolled in a program so that I can stay here and make money. Why would I not go to work for college,” said a student at Fanshawe College from Nigeria.
“I had no option but to take up the cash job. I can’t find a job on campus. And the life style in Canada is too expensive” said another student at Fanshawe from India. “I thought it would be so much fun to live alone in a different country. I would be able to be independent. I can do whatever I want. But when I got here, I felt so lost. People can’t understand what I say because my accent is different. I don’t score well because I can’t express myself well in my assignments. I am barely passing, but I mostly feel discouraged,” said a student at Fanshawe from China.
International students often end up working at convenience stores or fast-food chains for less pay than minimum wage. These employers give long hours to these students as a chance to make more money. However, their priority often shifts from their studies to their part-time jobs.
“Sometimes students lose their far sightedness. They forget the fact that working hard at school will lead them to pass with better grades, which will land them a better and respectable job after graduation. And this job will be valuable. Since, it will not only make them money, it will help them build career,” said Cynthia Konnerth, international student life coordinator at Fanshawe.
Fanshawe International Centre has been striving hard for many years to make the transition for international students as seamless as possible.
International students can apply for International Students Work Experience Program (ISWEP) in order to qualify for a job on campus for Fanshawe. All international students that are studying full-time at Fanshawe and have paid their fees to the registrar are qualified to apply for this program. And it would make it easy for them to find a job on campus instead of working illegally off-campus.
Fanshawe International Centre has three student life coordinators appointed to help students have a smooth transition to life in Canada. That life encompasses their academics, personal, social, emotional, financial and spiritual needs.
“Everybody needs a cheerleader in life and we are here to be that for the students. Every situation is solvable if the students would just be honest and come to talk before it becomes a problem. The students forget that talking to friends is going to do little good since they are all probably sailing in the same boat,” Konnerth said.
The Fanshawe International Centre launches events and seminars in order to proactively reach out to these students. They always invite students to visit the office and speak to anyone for any help.
“The problem that I observe with international students is that they do not follow up well enough. Even if they do come to visit, or attend a seminar, they would not do the next steps. Perhaps they might be shying away from asking for help repeatedly. However, we always try to organize events in order to encourage them to stay connected with us,” Konnerth said.
International students have to abide by a different set of rules as per the immigration commission. The students are allowed to work only a certain number of hours when studying and there are no significant scholarships for them as well.
However, in order to inspire international students to maintain a good academic standing, the students that maintain a 4.0 GPA are invited to the President’s Honour Role Dinner, conducted in November. These students get a chance to meet the president and get awarded for their outstanding academic performance. This event is exclusively for the international students.
With a goal to be able to attend this prestigious event and gain admiration and respect, international students can secure a respectable place for themselves in the country.