Monday, January 26, 2015

From Nigeria to Canada: The Journey Continues

Rose, originally from Nigeria, is a second-year student in Humber’s Pharmacy Technician program. Since August 2014, she has also worked as a student ambassador through the Humber International Centre. Rose’s first blog post is available here.

Rose and friends
Rose and friends
Did you ever wonder what happened to me after settling down? Let me fill you in on a few details.

You might say I'm turning into a Canadian! LOL! I'm enjoying the extreme weather (a little). I'd even say that I'm blending into the community. It's been an interesting journey so far. I am in my second year and will be rounding up soon.

Trip to the Museum
Trip to Ottawa
I have enjoyed my stay at Humber, even though there were some days that just didn't feel good. Some of you will agree with me that when the school workload is heavy, it feels like you can no longer make it. Many assignments are due during the same week, and—SURPRISE!—that week is also exam week. What could be more exciting!?

Trip with International Students
Trip to Montreal
Making money! Yes, I said it: making money. I got a job at the International Centre as a student ambassador (cool, right?!). As part of my job, I’ve been on several trips (e.g., Wasaga Beach, Montreal), and I still made good grades while balancing work and school. I'm more than proud of myself. I look forward to the next semester, my final one.
Rose working at the International booth
Rose at the September 2014 International Meet & Greet
With friends in Ottawa
With friends in Ottawa
Even more exciting? Hopefully, I will be going home after I graduate.  I miss my family; I want see them and share my stories with them. Also, I want to catch up on what I’ve missed. 

Panoramic view of Ottawa from my trip
Panoramic view of Ottawa from my trip

But that's not all! I'm coming back! As I told you, I'm becoming a Canadian. I’m going to apply for a post-graduation work permit and see what opportunities await.

It’s time to explore... My journey isn’t over yet. My journey has only started.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Student Success Story: Han Duong (Vietnam)

Name: Han Duong
Home Country: Vietnam
Humber Program: Game Programming

I had a dream of becoming a game programmer since I was eight. Everything started right at the moment when I received my first computer, and that dream followed me every day from then until now. When I was younger, I played games a lot. I played so much that I was good enough to go on tournaments and make money for my tuition.

Han Duong
Han Duong
Nevertheless, I gave up on these competitions during my graduation year. That was also the time I recognized that playing games is not the right way to be a game programmer. I realized that I have to work hard to achieve what I want. First, I did not think that I would study abroad, but “the awakening” changed my mind. My country is not very good at technology so I decided to go abroad to study game programming. That decision has been the greatest step in my life so far.

Next, I started to research the best to study for my career: Australia? Too expensive. How about America? Already too many people went there. Luckily, I found Canada, specifically Toronto, where there is a lot of great game development opportunities, and Humber College became my destination.    

Leaving my family and friends behind to find a new path was extremely awful for a person like me, and it was even worse when I lost my passport, visa, and study permit hours after I arrived here. If that wasn’t enough, it was snowing that night. I could not think of anything but the freezing weather; that was the reason why I forgot the documents on the train. Being away from the familiar things and alone in a strange country, knowing no one here, feeling cold while unfortunate things kept happening to me, I almost gave up and went home.
Han with friends from the Vietnamese Student Association

However, I suddenly remembered a Holly Memphis quote: “If no one comes from the future to stop you from doing it then how bad a decision can it really be?” Thanks to that quote, I calmed down, reported my missing documents to the police and began my plan all over again. Not long after that, miracle happened; the police called me to inform that they had found my lost items and asked me to pick them up. Since that moment, my journey turned to a new page.

Even so, I still had challenges. Communication had never been a problem until I got into my first semester at Humber. People talked really quickly and used too much specialized vocabulary about technology; I felt stunned and started to be afraid of talking with others. Every school day was a nightmare; I could not understand what my classmates said nor their jokes, even with my professors’ slow-speed talking, I still had trouble understanding.

As I mentioned before, my country’s technology industry is not as good, so I could not keep up with the knowledge that I was learning. Along with the language barrier, all of these difficulties made me so far behind compared with others. However, I luckily made new friends. Hanging out with them helped me improve my English as well as my studying. As a result, I finally caught up with everyone and became more confident when talking to others.

Going through all of those challenges, I now enjoy every day studying at Humber College. Humber frequently has a lot of interesting events during lunch time such as iPod Battle (my favourite one), free food for students, indoor sports events, and more.

Han & friends at the 2014 Holiday Dinner & Dance

Still, that is not everything. In my program, Humber has given me so many opportunities by letting me know about and attend gaming events that are very useful for my learning and career: for example, Gamercamp, EdAppHack, and GCA.. The students in my program also hold several events, such as Gameapalooza, where people from different programs can make friends and share gaming experience. Thank to these occasions, we are able to work together better to create games that we want, which is a wonderful thing. In addition, I am also a member of the Humber Vietnamese Association. Talking and hanging out with them makes me feel like I am at home. The most recent event of the group that I participated in was the “Mid-Autumn Festival.”

Everything in Canada has not been the same as I had imagined it. Living alone, far away from home, is both challenging and interesting at the same time. After months living here, I now can handle everything on my own, and they ways I think and behave have become much more mature. That is how I grew up; I am happy with myself so far. The more effort I give, the more successful I will be.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Student Success Story: Sean Le (Vietnam)

Name: Sean Le
Home Country: Vietnam

Going to Canada was not my decision; it was my parents’. While I was a freshman in high school, I learned of my parents’ plan to send me to Canada. I didn’t like it and tried my best to change their minds. It didn’t work. So I knew I had to comply. Therefore, I started going to English classes, learning to cook and do clothes alterations, researching about lifestyles in Canada, etc… all in order to prepare for studying in a foreign country. After three years of that, I was confident I would be well-prepared.
Sean Le
Sean Le
However, when I arrived in Canada, it still challenged me more than I had thought. The biggest barrier that I had to overcome at first was communication. My English at the time was not as good as now and because of that, I was embarrassed to start conversations. As a result, for the first few months, I barely made any friends. I was scared to speak English to the point that every time I was about to order food or check out my purchases, I had to think ahead of what I was going to say. Not only English, the fact that I am from an Eastern culture and was living in a country whose culture is entirely different made it difficult for me to understand and respond to what people said. Sometimes, I was afraid to give my comments or opinions because I was not sure if they would offense anyone or not. Being totally new to Canada, having trouble communicating and making friend, having no clue what to do, jobless, etc.—these caused struggles in the first few months.

Vietnamese Event @ Humber
Lunar New Year Event @ Humber
Everything started to change when I started working as a server in a Vietnamese restaurant. When I received my first pay in my life, I cried for the first time since arriving in Canada. For me, working was not just about paying my expenses by my own effort; it meant more than that. It helped me develop a sense of maturity and confidence: it made me appreciate the sacrifice my parents made for me more than ever – it made me work harder and push my limits; it also helped me gain a lot of confidence since I could start taking care of myself on my own.

Besides work, Humber was one of the many factors that contributed to my maturity. Studying in this institution has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life. Before I started my accounting degree program, I had been totally clueless about the subject or anything about business. But with the deep knowledge and enthusiastic teaching of the professors in my program, I could understand them and grow fond of these business matters. Now, I can see and analyze things from a business-related perspective, different from how I did one year ago. In addition to my professors, my classmates are what I like about my program. They are smart individuals who are passionate about accounting, just like how I am. We can talk about typical teenage topics, but we can also seriously and rationally discuss an economics issue when we want.

Sean Le speaking at Vietnamese Event
Sean speaking at Lunar New Year Event
Outside the classroom, Humber provides a lot of opportunities for pursuing my own interests and improving my real-life skills. Out of all the extracurricular activities that were available, I chose to become a part of the Vietnamese Students’ Association. As a student advisor of the group, I can do what I am passionate about: helping others. Also, because of my job, I had to meet and talk with a lot of new people; through that, I made new friends and greatly improved my communication skills. After several months working with the group, I have gained a lot of unforgettable memories. Some of the friends I have made here have become important parts of my life.

There is a saying that “You become luckier when you work harder” – I think this is totally correct. I am now a server in a restaurant, working as a tutor on campus, serving my Vietnamese peer community as a student advisor and pursuing my own interests and dreams while maintaining good grades at school. Even though sometimes these activities exhaust me, I have not quit because I know they will surely payoff. As a result, I am now taking care of all my expenses and even saving for my tuition next year without help from my parents. I am also a good student at Humber, and I became a person who people come to when they need help or advice. But most importantly, I am now a person my parents can depend on and a son that they are proud of.

Sean with a group of Vietnamese Students
Sean with a group of Vietnamese Students
Studying abroad is not as flashy as everyone thinks, yet it also isn’t something that you should be scared of. Being away from the people you have been with since you were born, plus having to take care of everything on your own may not sound comfortable, but it is eventually going to pay off if you put in enough effort and never stop trying. Good luck to all!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Humber International Centre helps students adjust

By Liban Abdi

This article originally appeared in Humber EtCetera on 7th November 2014.

International students at Humber College often come to rely on the services of the International Centre and the help of student advisors, said Matthew Keefe, International [Student] Advisor.
Students at the International Centre
Students at the International Centre
“On a day-to-day basis we help our students with things such as permits and immigration status,” said Keefe. “We also provide them with experiences such as trips in order for them to enjoy their stay here.”

Trip to The CN Tower
Trip to The CN Tower
These services are crucial for these students in order for them to be able to focus on their studies, Keefe believes.

“It means a lot to me for them to be helping me with all of my issues. They do their best to make sure you can focus on your studies, ” said 22-year-old accounting student Miguel Vazquez.

The Centre was created in order to help international students here at Humber adjust to their new home environments.

Connect Buddy Program
Connect Buddy Program
“Having worked here for five years now I know how the programs such as the ConnectBuddy program, which pairs a new international student with a returning student, can help students adjust,” said Keefe.

“We do all these things to make the transition as easy as possible. That’s our main goal, ” he said

Students who have used the services at the Centre say they understand the staff there care about their success.

 International Booth at Humber Concourse
International Booth at Humber Concourse

“I know that they have my best interest in mind. They do everything they can in order for me to be successful, ” said 21-year-old nursing student Zainib Mohamed.

Monday, January 5, 2015

How to survive going back to school ... in a different country!

This article originally appeared on i-StudentGlobal on 22nd October 2014.

Ishita has left her home in India to study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Marketing Management at the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Canada.
Ishita Profile Pic
September is the month of going back to school, meeting old friends, making new ones and setting new goals for the year ahead. For someone like me, it was going to a new country to start a new journey – one that was both exciting and scary at the same time!

In September 2013, I decided to start this wonderful journey in Toronto, Canada by choosing to study at Humber College. As an international student, coming from India, I was very excited to study abroad as there were so many positive things that I thought I could experience throughout this journey.

Toronto Skyline
“… this wonderful journey in Toronto, …”
Once I landed in Toronto the understanding of what I was doing sank in: I actually realized that I had chosen a tough path, where I was not only thousands of miles away from my family and friends, but where I had to start a new life from scratch. I was very anxious at that moment, because unlike many people, I had decided to come to a country where I had no acquaintances, family or friends - whatsoever!

So what do you do when you’re in a situation like this? Especially when you not only have to adapt to a new country, its culture and people, but also its education system? I had to deal with all of that! And after a year, looking back, I can say I have survived! But I am still learning new tricks of the trade every single day.

Based on my personal experience and observations, I want to share a few tips that will definitely help you survive your first year in school in a different country. So here it goes:

1. Don’t panic: As much as you are feeling new to the school environment and the people around you, so are your classmates. Remember, it is their first day/week at the class too. Give everybody some time to open up and get comfortable. Just go with the flow.
Ishita with a friend
“Just go with the flow.”
2. Introduce yourself to a stranger: Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you or anyone in your class. It always works as an icebreaker and releases some tension between two unknown people. Don’t get scared or feel disheartened, if a few people are not taking the initiative to talk to you or introduce themselves, they are probably just shy. Sometimes, if you take the initiative to speak up, voila - you just made a new friend!

3. Speak to your professor: If you realize in the first few weeks of class that the teaching and learning method in the school is completely different from your home country then don’t worry. If you feel too shy to ask your classmates any questions, speak to your professors directly. Let them know that you are not accustomed to this style of learning and you need a few suggestions to help you cope. You’ll be surprised at how helpful they can be.

Lakeshore Campus
"Where I study."
4. Join Clubs: Take this opportunity to join clubs or participate in extracurricular activities in your school. This is another way to make new friends and truly learn the culture of that country.
"..participate in extracurricular activities.."
5. Get to know as many people as possible: This will not only help in your personal life, but also in your professional life. You are just starting off your life in a new country and I don’t see why you shouldn’t make as many friends as possible, those who may also help you in your professional life, someday in the future.
6. Be open to new ideas: There is a reason why you decided to study in a new country and if gaining global perspective and growing yourself was one of the reasons, you should definitely be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

7. Be global: Try and learn what people in that country do, how they do it, why they do it, also if you are studying in a multicultural city like Toronto, try and learn what people from countries other than Canada do.

8. Stay fit: Yes, you heard it right! Go to the gym or join a sports club. Any form of exercise is a good stress buster and who knows, you might just make a few new friends there as well.

9. Have patience: Give everything some time. Things won’t just happen overnight. Making friends or getting accustomed to a country, its food, culture, and traditions takes time and everything will gradually fall in place. And when it does, then you’ll realize exactly why you embarked on this wonderful journey in the first place.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

How NOT to Throw a Snowball!

By Baneen Fatima

I remember being a kid back in Dubai, watching ‘Home Alone’, and wondering how everything becomes extremely calm and beautiful around Christmas. I used to envy the people in the movie because I wanted to enjoy the snow too. It is funny how quickly my wish was granted: now I am in Canada, a place where SNOW sometimes becomes the cause for everything closing down. It’s pretty unbelievable.
Parking lot covered in snow
Parking lot covered in snow
This winter, I had my first snowball fight ever. My family came to visit me a few days ago, and my 10 year old brother, just like me, was excited about the snow. So, when it started snowing again, we decided to layer up (since it was literally freezing outside) and head out and enjoy the weather. As we walked around the block, my mum and I were having a deep conversation about the political and economic instability of Pakistan when, suddenly, my youngest brother decided to throw a ball of snow at my head.
Me and my family
Me and my family
Now normally, if anyone interrupted a conversation this deep, I would have given them my ‘how-dare-you?-Apologise-and-walk-away’ stare. However, when the snow hit my head and erupted all over my face and shoulders, I could hear my brothers, my mum and even myself, laughing. My irritation and anger melted away, and I picked up a handful of snow and tried to throw it back.
Turns out, you can’t just throw snow as soon as you pick it up. It’s like throwing powder. My brothers started laughing even louder at my silliness! So I decided to take revenge and ran towards them with a lot of snow in my hands. I learnt that you need to compress the snow tightly in your hands, make it a ball and then you aim for your target. I got pretty good at it after 10 or so failed attempts.
"beautiful around Christmas"
In the end, I managed to cover my brothers completely in snow, from their hats to their snow boots. I got scolded too, because my mum predicted that we would all be sick the next day, but that possibility was a small price to pay for getting to live out a childhood dream.  So just like the characters in Home Alone, I have my white winter. I don’t think I will ever get tired of this beautiful season.

Until next time, my amigos!