Journey to Canada as an international student-Part 1


Hello students,

A little about myself, I moved to Canada in October 2017 for my graduate studies. It took me a really long time to get the student visa (11 weeks where as on the website it was mentioned 5 weeks) to a point where my program administrator (the lovely Susan) advised me to defer it to next year as it was a really math intensive program and classes started from August so she feared I wouldn’t be able to catch up with the syllabus. I used to email the visa embassy every week to get an update on the status but it was of no use. I still remember, I got tearful reading her email as I had refused all the other admission letters I got from universities in UK and Europe as I wanted to go to Canada. So I replied to her email letting her withdraw me from the program and the next week, all the courses were removed from the portal.

Just when I gave up on my goal of studying in Canada, one night I checked my email and there was a mail from the visa embassy that I can collect my passport. I told my parents and immediately emailed Susan telling her the situation and promising I would be able to manage the missed classes (of a month and a half) if she can re-enroll me in the courses somehow as I haven’t asked for the fees refund yet. My dad helped me a lot to check the tickets and select the earliest flight. My mom and brother started throwing important things in my suitcase as we weren’t prepared at all and I made up my mind of not hoping for the visa anymore. We were doing all this without even knowing whether I had gotten the visa or has it been rejected. The next morning I went to the embassy with my brother with my hands shivering on what the outcome would be. I got the envelop from the officer and opened it immediately and I had gotten a two years study permit. I felt joyful but there were so many things going on in my mind to show the excitement. I felt Susan wouldn’t agree on me joining the program unusually late as there are always policies and timelines that university has to follow. I was checking the mails constantly and finally received her reply that she has to talk to the program director (Professor Miu) about my situation.

And oh how can I forget, after coming back home from visa embassy I checked online for the list of documents needed when travelling to Canada and I was missing a very important letter (the point of entry) which the embassy didn’t provide me. I was already short of time with a lot of uncertainties and this was a cherry on top. I emailed IRCC and embassy pleading to take my case on an urgent basis and send  the letter. Thankfully they were prompt this time and provided me with the e-document on the same day. My dad called Susan as waiting for emails back and forth was too time taking and she told the academic committee was in the meeting discussing my case and after 5 mins she called us back that they are ready to re-enroll me in the program to a condition that if I face any difficulty in the program wouldn’t be there responsibility as whatever they taught in the first month was important to build the Quant foundation required for the other terms. (It was overwhelming as so many things happened in 2 days for which I was waiting for the past 11 weeks).

So this is how I made it to Canada with my parents support. While I was in the plan en-route Toronto along with my mom as I wanted to get so many things done at a short time along with moral support for time being, my dad was searching for accommodation near the university online. Mid term exams were starting in my program from a week after I was joining and I read some accounting/finance notes in the plane to freshen my knowledge and have some idea about the program material. Finally we landed and a relative of mine picked us from the airport and dropped us in Hamilton (another city 70 kms from downtown) where my university was located. We were jet lagged and tired but still went to university to meet Susan who greeted us very nicely, welcomed me officially to the program and gave me a bunch of course books and notes to be read as exams were starting from Monday (and it was Friday, 27th September 2017). All the houses near the university were occupied but finally thanks to my dad’s online search, we found a really small basement room with no windows but I couldnt do anything but to take it. The landlord knew we are international and charged a higher rent than market from me but at that time we had to take it. I lived in that place for 8 months while finishing the two terms of my program.

In case you are wondering was I able to manage the study load? To tell the truth, it was very hard, even though I had taken finance in undergrad, most of the courses here were coding and math focused (deriving formulas, a lot of integration, econometrics and involving softwares which I haven’t even heard of). One of my professors (Prof. Kwan) was kind enough to remove the missed exam from my grading and make a separate marking system for me. I did well in all the courses during first term except Kwan’s class where I got 60 in mid term. I studied a lot for finals and he gave me an A+ (one of the two students who got it) because he knew about my visa struggles and made a decision based on my relative performance. So overall, the teachers were considerate and understanding which helped me in settling to the new country.

Fast forward its been over 18 months, I am done with the rigorous Master’s program but in no way I could say it was an easy ride ! There were so many things I had to learn excluding academics but it was my parents support along with my determination which helped me come this far. Nevertheless, as an international student the struggles and challenges keep coming and its important to keep Strong and not be blown by the wind where the wind could be anything from homesickness, job search, understanding the accent, personal problems etc. Keep Strong and let the time do its thing is what I learned from my journey and the whole purpose of writing this was to motivate the many others who are planing to come to Canada for studying, have got their visa rejected before, having difficulty in studying etc.

*I would love to hear stories of other international students and for aspirants, I am happy to answer any questions related to my experience and guiding in the whole application process.



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