Friday, June 28, 2013

Hitting Two Birds with One Stone

By Chloe Jang, Humber Student

When people learn a language, the most important way to improve it is using the language on a daily basis. Even though I’ve learned English for more than 10 years, speaking is the hardest part for me. It is also very hard to develop because I’ve had less opportunities to speak English. After I came here, I expected to meet a great number of natives so that I could exercise speaking persistently however, unless I tried to make chances participating in any social groups it was hardly realized. The groups could be schools, churches, welfare organizations or even sport-clubs in the community.
The scenery of the Lakeshore Lodge

There are several enrollment steps in order to apply for a volunteer work in Lakeshore Lodge. Firstly I had to turn in both an application form and two reference letters (not family or friends). To get the forms, it is mandatory for all applicants to take part in the orientation held once a month at the Lakeshore Lodge. After that, I had an interview with the person in charge and then was requested to submit my police check from my country. As far as I experienced, it takes at least two months to register to the lodge formally. So you have to make sure the confirmation period when you make a plan for volunteering especially during the vacation.

A wide range of activities in Lakeshore Lodge

In the Lakeshore Lodge, there are a lot of seniors whose average age is 91, and the lodge delivers a number of programs for the residences such as the tuck shop, bingo, pub, one-to-one visiting, fundraising and so on, by volunteers. For me, by meeting and helping the elderly on weekdays, I can not only use everyday English naturally with seniors and other volunteers, but also feel worthwhile to do it as if I am contributing to the Canadian society, which make me more confident.

Do you want to improve your English especially speaking?

Hitting two birds with a stone by doing valuable things as a volunteer in Canada!

By: Chloe Jang

Friday, June 21, 2013

In the Shoes of a Commuter

By: Madhur Prashant, Humber Student & International Centre Student Ambassador

Canada and more…
Many international students reel under the effect of culture shock, and some cozily warm up to climate shock. I feel a rare kind– it’s called Commute Shock.

By Madhur Prashant

For many, commute is a daily chore done at-least twice a day. For those that oblige their local public transport, it is taxing, but sometimes relaxing as well! When commuting, we bump into a hundred faces, each of which reads like a book. Watch carefully and you’ll notice the comedy, horror, suspense, thrill and drama of life come alive. Many, however, may find the company of ‘smart’ phones and smarter books more interesting.

Commuting is a job. It’s the job we pay to do. It’s the job we do sans bosses, sans subordinates. It’s a job that takes us near our loved and not-so-loved ones. During my 15 years of training in different parts of the world, I have no option but to use these into moments of observation. So I study the Job and do the job to Study! Ahh... whatever that means.

I blame my commute shock to habits acquired back home. Commute, in a city of over 20 million (YES!), has got to be something! Some keywords summarize the state of commuters in a well-connected and -serviced system back in Mumbai. These hopefully will fuel your imagination and reduce my writing effort.

7:30 am (Peak hour) - Queue, was-it-a-queue, you-were-never-in-the-queue, privacy’s-got-no-space-here, push, shove, growl, rant, pant, glare, stare, gasp, sigh, pointed heels dig into anonymous feet, three-seats-accommodate-four, thirty passengers-through one door, 400 passengers-packed in one car meant for 82.

Like I said, commuting is a tough job. Every minute and every seat is more precious than anything (in that moment). A window-side seat is a lottery. Having imbibed the valuable commuter traits, I began a new journey in a new country armed with old habits.

My First Day at a Torontonian Subway Station

I took a deep breath as I peeked into the dark tunnel, and waited for the train to light it up. “Will I be able to get into the train,’ was my first commuter-worry. The train rolled in and the doors slid open. I almost leapt in, only to jump back out as elegantly as possible so passengers inside could exit in no-apparent-hurry. I cursed them (in my head, of course) for their lack of impatience and ‘slowness’, and leapt back in, wasting not a second. I grabbed the nearest seat and patted myself for the quick and smart move – only to find empty seats in the car. Oh!

Then, I observed and worried about a potential crowd blocking my exit. My mind’s jaws dropped as I watched fellow passengers leave their seats only when doors opened at their station. Back home, commuters get ready three stations before their destination. That’s because there are many more passengers in Mumbai local trains compared to the Torontonian ones; and they need time to make their way to the door.

In Canada, I want to be part of this system. Often, I rush my way through an unperturbed crowd, get worked-up at the sight of them, and fret at an apparent ‘no-hurry-why-worry’ attitude. I try to change. I try to slow down. But my habits catch up and I begin to hurry again. I hurry out of habit. I fear being too fast and then too slow for this system and falling prey to a general ire. I pretend to be calm and hide my commute shock amidst local commuting habits. I observe others. I watch myself.

Our commute reveals a lot about people and culture. Hopefully, I will have acquired different commuter habits and have ‘happy feet on the move’.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Best English Class Ever

Fortunately, I got a chance to give a graduation
speech representing my EAP class!
By Chloe Jang, Humber Studen

Before taking the EAP program at Humber, I was supposed to attend another college in Toronto.

However, after studying English for two months I decided to apply to a full-time course at Humber because the experience during EAP moved me by its amazing faculty and curriculum, and I wished to realize my dream with Humber.
Above all when I talk about my EAP course, I can say nothing if not for my excellent, enthusiastic teachers. Throughout the 8 weeks, all of my three teachers prepared for every class carefully and according to syllabus so they always began their class on time, without delay. They seemed to try to use up-to-date materials such as Ted talks, YouTube videos, and latest articles to grab attention of students. In addition, we sometimes had to walk or run in and out of the classroom actively to solve a quiz, which helped all of the students without exception to acquire a great knowledge of English. When it cameto homework assignments, our teachers set tasks not to just mark our English, but to improve our abilities by providing continuous feedback for each assignment.

Thanks to the considerate teachers who gave me great advice and compliments, I was able to do my best and develop my academic English skills rapidly.

One fine day at Humber Lakeshore campus.
If someone from another country like me is going to take the regular course at Humber, I certainly recommend taking the EAP program first so that they can learn how to find proper materials for their essays or proposals, to avoid plagiarism, and even to learn how to manage group work among international students. Even though I graduated university in South Korea, I felt this was new because these courses were far different from what I did back home. It's great that I didn’t miss learning these skills in EAP before entering the HR program at Humber. It seems that Humber makes EAP curriculums to teach international students to acquire proper study hbits by using these skills directly while learning English.

Last but not least, Humber provides international students a number of activities such as Toronto sightseeing, trips to Niagara Falls, camping, and many more. I believe by joining such exciting trips, we can meet and make a lot of friends beyond the campus and get opportunities to use English in real life and getting to visit famous tourist attractions with reasonable prices. There were 15 students in my class but I have more than 40 friends since I participated in the Humber Leadership Camp (oneday I will explain my experience at the camp), and of course I am planning to join many activities as long as I am a Humberian.
After I graduated EAP, I am trying to practice and keep up my English in my own ways, one of which is doing volunteer work in public places. For my next story, I will introduce you how to find volunteer work and apply for it. Bye for now.
By Chloe Jang

Friday, June 7, 2013

Making More than Just a Move!

By Madhur Prashant
By: Madhur Prashant, Humber Student & International Centre Student Ambassador

Most of us have at-least once in our life, made that one big leap.
Some of us may still be waiting.
Having made several small and medium jumps in life, I was ready for yet another, a very big one.

My education and work-experience highlight variety and movement, sometimes by choice and, other times out of compulsion. With this move, I was going to leave behind me a supposedly stable job with a thin paycheck; a novel, challenging but gratifying job-profile; and a not-so-active social life in India, only to learn drawing and painting in Canada.
With little background in art, it was going to be a challenge to start afresh in a new country. I was going back with almost eight years of work-experience, and with the mind of a worker, and the heart of a student.
Reactions to My Ambitious Action
My superiors, colleagues and friends displayed mixed reactions on learning about my ‘far-fetched’ ambition. While a few wanted to tag along so they could sneak out of their disenchanting work-life grind; there were those who wanted me to rethink and revaluate such a dire move!
‘What? But why do you want to leave this settled life now? It is surely one big move!’ one of them lamented.
Yes. I was making a big move.
Until then, I had sought deeply a break from the daily grind, from deadlines and meetings, appraisals and evaluations. I wanted to be a student again. I wanted to experience the pleasure of learning something new and live life as a learner.  
I was going to feel freedom.
I must admit, I wasn’t sure. Why the mixed feelings, I thought. Forsaking everything only to learn something new wasn’t an equation I could balance. Every expression of doubt, of wonder in others’ eyes made me question my decision.
Why This Program?
My interest and my last job! In my last organization, I, as part of a team, created educational solutions, like books and audio books, using stories, rhymes and a lot of images. My job was to research, write, edit and visualize stories and supervise the development of learning resources. While I could word my stories and imagine them play; I couldn’t draw and paint those. That’s when I decided - I want to hold the paint brush along with my pen.
This small ambition steered such a move. I am here, living like an art student, with paint splashed all around, and rightfully so.
There are days when I long to be part of my team and make ideas come to life. There are more days when I long to have a paycheck (thin is also okay) stumble into my humble account. However, there are newer moments now when I am able to create, only in part, fresh stories in colour and in shape!
As I end this, I am reminded of the day when I first set foot into this warm, bustling city - with hopes of blending into a new world, and of getting in touch with myself once again!