For students Meenal Rawat and Mita Chowdhury, coming to Canada to study has been a rewarding decision.
Although both have followed different paths, both have chosen Lethbridge College in Lethbridge, Alberta, as the place to pursue their educational goals in Canada and to start on the road to achieving professional success.
Lethbridge College is home to students from around the world. Specializing in hands-on, practical education, graduates are well-prepared to begin their careers or transfer on to other programs at the college or other post-secondary institutions.
Meenal Rawat’s experience has taken her across Canada. After completing a Physiotherapy degree in India, Rawat, 25, came to Canada in 2011 to attend college in Ontario. She originally thought she would go to school in America, but learned from peers a Canadian education provided a better value for the money. Rawat always wanted to work with children and was looking for an education to help children with social development. While in Ontario, Rawat began researching schools and came across Lethbridge College.
“I was very diligent in my search,” she remembers. “I contacted many schools, but the International Advisor at Lethbridge College was more than helpful. He took a real interest in making sure I was taken care of. I also wanted to make sure I went to a province that had adequate health care for international students. In Alberta, I would be taken care of.”
Rawat chose college over university for many reasons. “I’ve been in school since I was three,” she says. “I wanted to take a program that was career-specific so that I could get trained quickly and get into the field. I love to learn, but I really want to turn my knowledge into practical work.”
Because of the previous education Rawat had, Lethbridge College staff helped her transfer credits and make sure she was taking the right classes to be able to participate in her first practicum. “Everyone was helpful,” Rawat says. “I was even able to contact my program coordinator to get personal help choosing classes.”
Rawat noticed cultural and educational differences between India and Canada. In India, families live together. In Canada, most people move out of their family home when they are 18. Another difference Rawat noticed was getting a cell phone. “In India, you just have to go into the store and buy the phone,” she explains. “In Canada, you have to bring many pieces of identification and it is a bit of a process.”
Educationally, class sizes and testing proved to be very different. “In India, the classes are big and tests require written answers,” Rawat says. “In Canada, the class sizes are smaller and the study load is more manageable.”
Rawat loves many things about Canada, but she says she particularly loves snow. She also finds the Lethbridge College campus to be beautiful. “I live in residence,” she says, “and my backyard is a valley. It’s cool.”
As for the future, Rawat plans to complete her program, work in her field and apply to the Alberta provincial nominee immigration program in hopes of becoming a permanent resident. “I will go home to visit, but I plan to live in Canada,” she says.
Rawat’s advice to students coming to Canada is: “If you are coming to study, study! If you are going to spend the money, make the most of it and be serious about your schooling.”
Mita Chowdhury’s decision to go to college in Canada was a natural choice. Chowdhury, 28, moved from Bangladesh to Canada in 2009 after getting married. Her choice to attend college rather than university also came easy. “There are many reasons why I chose college over university,” says Chowdhury. “Tuition fees at college are less expensive than university. Also, I like the teaching system at college. There are small classes and I can talk with my instructors. They help me succeed.”
Chowdhury found Lethbridge an easy city in which to go to school. Her hometown in Bangladesh, Hobigonj, is small, and she likes the small size of Lethbridge. Living costs are much lower than in large cities and it is not crowded.
Office Administration is a great program for Chowdhury because she will be able to balance her career with being a mom. “I took English as a Second Language before beginning Office Administration,” says Chowdhury. “At first, I was nervous, but everyone was friendly. I felt like I belonged.” Chowdhury also chose to come to Lethbridge College because there is a daycare. “I can balance being a mom and a student,” she says.
The transition from life in Bangladesh to life in Canada had its challenges. “The traffic system is strange here. The lights and signs are different. I knew that I would be speaking English, and it was still scary at first,” says Chowdhury of her experience.
“Also, the food! I ate turkey for the first time. And salad – I thought salad was for goats!”
Chowdhury has grown to enjoy living in Canada and her classes at the college.
In the future, Chowdhury would like to be an Administrative Assistant at the hospital or at Lethbridge College.
“I like it here,” she says. “It is beautiful. The mountains are amazing and Lethbridge is the perfect size.”
Chowdhury encourages students to come to Canada and Lethbridge College.
“You will love it here,” she says.
– Kendra Gawletz
Useful information for international students To find out more about studying in Canada, applying for Canadian universities as an international student and for more information on academic career in Canada, visit www.canada123.org.Posted: Jul 3, 2013