WHAT'S IT LIKE TO STUDY ABROAD IN CANADA? | INTERVIEW WITH AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT IN CANADA
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Glaire Cartago is a twenty-something international student pursuing post-graduate studies on the West Coast of Canada. Having been born in the Philippines, lived in Chicago, and now studying in Vancouver, Glaire has a passion for learning and exploring. Glaire is currently in Canada on a Student Visa/Study Permit. Today, she shares her experience and offers advice for other students considering studying abroad in Canada. To learn more about what to expect as an international student in Canada, read below!
WHEN DID YOU STUDY ABROAD IN CANADA AND WHAT PROGRAM DID YOU TAKE?
I arrived in Canada around the last week of April 2018 so I could have time adjusting before my classes started. My first term started in May 2018. I have a bachelor's degree in Business Management back in the Philippines, my home country. I figured I wanted to take it further, which is why I chose to take Post-Degree in Accounting in Canada.
WHERE IN CANADA DID YOU CHOOSE TO STUDY AND WHY?
I am currently in Vancouver, British Columbia, attending school at Langara College. I chose it mainly because it was where my relatives are living closest. I wanted my accommodation to be one less of a problem for me when I study abroad, that’s why I chose Vancouver. Also, Langara has a good reputation for my chosen program and that’s an important thing to consider as well when choosing your school!
HOW LONG DID THE APPLICATION PROCESS TAKE FROM START TO FINISH?
Mine was fast! I remember starting processing my papers around January 2018 and I got the visa decision in the middle of March 2018. So I’d say maybe 8 weeks in total. Things went so fast that I flew out of the country the month after. Although, I can’t say the same thing when it comes to waiting for the visa decision. You might feel dreadful about the wait but just enjoy your remaining time there and think positive!
WHAT DID YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE?
I did a whole lot of research about my stay in Canada. One thing I always make sure to do when I travel abroad is to learn everything there is about the country—rules, ways of transportation, rent, people—that way I always come prepared or at least come knowing about basic things. Also, I followed all the social media of my school, I joined Facebook groups and even messaged with a couple of students in the same course program as mine. These little preparations will definitely be a big help when you move to a new country. There is no such thing as being perfectly ready, but having at least basic knowledge is better than not knowing anything.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE STUDYING ABROAD IN CANADA? WHAT SURPRISED YOU?
I wish I knew how getting a driver’s license here in Canada works. I could’ve done something sooner about it had I known how it works. But still, never too late to start applying now! Also, I should’ve brought more outerwear and fewer shirts. Personally, coming from a tropical country, it was not easy transitioning from hot weather to a really cold country. I’ve always been covered up since I got here. I’m still adjusting, but it’s not so bad now compared to when I first got here.
DID YOU KNOW ANYONE IN CANADA BEFORE YOU CAME?
Yes, I have my grandmother and a couple of other relatives here in Vancouver, so it’s not very lonely for me. I think it helps a lot with the adjustments and coping when you’re living with someone you know.
DID YOU WORK IN CANADA WHILE YOU STUDIED?
Definitely. I am working a part-time job at a restaurant right now. Working part-time would be a good exposure to the Canadian culture and to gain Canadian experience as well, which is something that would be beneficial to international students once after their studies. I work 20 hours a week if I can.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO STUDENTS INTERESTED IN STUDYING ABROAD IN CANADA?
As I said above, do your research. Don’t rely solely on the information that other people are giving you as we have our own different perspectives on things. It’ll always be safe to know more than know nothing at all, especially since you would be on your own and away from your family. Also, do think about your chosen program as it would be your investment in the near future if ever you decide to work here in Canada. You’re investing your money and your time in a foreign country, you might as well as make it worth your while. Do not just take the program just because you think it looks easy. Make sure you’ll love what you’re about to learn because you don’t want to add it to your pressure living in a foreign country and studying something that is also foreign to you.
WHERE CAN OUR READERS FOLLOW YOUR JOURNEY AND LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR EXPERIENCE?
I have my YouTube account, if you want to know more about being an international student. I give tips and any other information that you might be curious about in wanting to study abroad. I have my Instagram as well, where I post my activities and sometimes interesting IG stories for you to get a glimpse of my life as an international student. I hope we can connect and see each other real soon!
STUDY ABROAD IN CANADA
Every year, thousands of Foreign Nationals come to Canada to study in our Universities, Colleges and even High Schools. Foreign Nationals wishing to study in Canada require a Study Permit, and in many cases an accompanying visa. All Foreign nationals require a study permit to study at a Canadian Institution for longer than 6 months.
Many students choose to immigrate permanently to Canada after having studied here. Canada has provided ways to encourage you to stay, gain work experience, or otherwise contribute to Canada's economy and culture. There are Permanent Resident programs that can help you stay here permanently.
Calver and Associates Group can assist you with your Work Permit and Visa needs in order to study in Canada.
Durham Region is home to several leading Canadian colleges and universities including the University of Ontario Institute Technology (Oshawa), Centennial College (Scarborough/Pickering/Toronto), Trent University (Peterborough/Oshawa), and Durham College (Oshawa).
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