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International student makes new friends in Canada


After high school, I  made the decision to start off my Bachelor program in Bangladesh, with the plan to transfer to the US after my first or second year. 

I thought I would find my future there, especially as I had completed one year of high school in St. Louis as an exchange student. 

Before beginning my university studies in Bangladesh, I got a job at the Canadian University Application Centre (CUAC) in Dhaka as an intern. While working there, I learned the company plays such an important role in helping students from different countries around the world like Bangladesh and India to pursue higher education in Canada.

I liked working at CUAC so much that I continued working there even after I was accepted to, and began my studies at, Independent University, Bangladesh. 

While beginning to research my options in the US, I was very surprised and concerned at the high cost of tuition since most institutions are privately owned. Also, most American institutions required the writing of the SAT exam. This seemed like a lot of effort for an uncertain result, especially since I had already proven myself to be a very good student.

At this very time, while working at CUAC, I was amazed to learn of the many options where Canada offered top quality education at a more reasonable tuition cost. I hadn’t known about this before.

It was not long after that I met Marie Braswell, Director of Admissions at Saint Mary’s University (SMU), Halifax. Braswell came to visit Bangladesh to counsel potential students. I was so impressed by her manner and thorough presentation. During her stay in Bangladesh not only was I able to learn more about Canada, but I also became interested in finishing my degree in SMU.

The best parts about applying to Canada were that tuition fees were low, no SAT was required, and almost all universities offered co-op and off-campus work opportunities, which meant I could work and study at the same time. The CUAC, as it does for all students, looked after all the details, all free of any service charges.

My parents and my family always wanted me to pursue my higher studies abroad and when I told them I was interested in applying to Canada they were more excited than I was. Not only were they happy because I had relatives and friends in Canada, but they also believed that I could work and stay here upon completion of my degree. 

I finished two semesters of university in Bangladesh, before applying to SMU. I was accepted and all my credits were transferred. Then I began the nervous process of preparing for big changes.

My biggest fears about studying abroad were not being able to make friends and facing study pressure. I have read articles where students have struggled to adjust and often go through a period of being homesick, even depressed. I convinced myself that this would not happen to me and that I would do great, because I had been through that situation as a high school exchange student in the United States.When I arrived in Halifax, I was so excited! Everything and everyone seemed so nice. But the following few days were a bit tough for me. Given the fact that I had missed orientation, I didn’t know much about the campus and places nearby. I had difficulty figuring out where my classrooms were. I had no friends, other than my roommate and my high school friend from Bangladesh. 

The first few days were a struggle. I learnt that people are friendly and helpful, and that if you approached them, they would talk to you. So that is exactly what I did. I even got a part-time job working in the SMU international student office, and then a summer job working for CUAC’s Toronto office.

Today, as I enter my second year as a student, I am more  confident than I would have been if I hadn’t approached people and made friends. 

Friends change everything. 

                                                                                                                                                       – Annesha Chakma 

• 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: Sep 5, 2013

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