Tag Archives: Canada

Journey to Canada as an international student-Part 1

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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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Homesick Child

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Homesick Child

Hi to all the bloggers out there. I have been out of touch since ages or even centuries. I tried logging on my blog account on laptop but realized that I have forgotten the username and password both (my memory is to be blamed for it :p). Luckily, I was able to login automatically through the phone and here I am writing. (Dont even know if people still read blogs :p)

I went through the posts I wrote in 2014 when i first started writing and was laughing on how immature I was but still received so many positive comments. Guess we all grew up. It’s now 2019 and good five years have passed by. I have changed multiple cities, countries and even continents all by my self but I still miss the smell of rainy roads of Karachi where I spent 13 years of my childhood. I also miss the 17 year old me, super excited to go back to Pakistan from Saudi and study at LUMS. I had so many dreams and passion to make my own school for the poor girls and contribute to the economy. I realized its difficult to get done at this time with no finance of my own and then after studying so much for the 4 years, I got admission in Canada for Masters on scholarship.

The 21 year old girl came all the way to Canada alone ( probably the few Pakistani girls who come alone to a foreign land). These 16 months have been alot of struggle and I experienced things I never did in life. After tons and tons of networking and even more crying, I finally got internship at a dream bank and have finished the program. But I do get homesick especially when I go and meet families living together. I try to keep myself positive and have faith in destiny but no matter wherever I go and become, I will miss the golden carefree days of childhood wandering on the streets of Karachi and coming home to a big loving family (to my Da, baba, mama and siblings)…

P.S: the photo was taken in Gerrad Street,Toronto where I could feel the bit of  Pakistani culture,for a while..

 

International Students, Identity Crisis and Social Diaspora

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In the modern day and time where the world has shrunk in distance and everyone is connected in the social space, it is common for students from one country to go to another country for the purpose of studying.  Two decades ago, it might have been unusual to do so and it was relatively harder for children especially from the country I come from to  convince parents and/or relatives to send them to a faraway land to seek education assuming  financial resources and the academic requirements weren’t the constraint factors. In the world we live in, people are more aware of the culture and traditions, thanks to the social media and the number of international students have increased tremendously. There is a great emphasis on the exchange programs, teaching and learning of new cultures, culminating the stereotypes and enhancing the exposure of the ‘now’ students. This is a good thing right? Absolutely, it is a great way to become a more tolerant and knowledgeable version of yourself and there was no better time to become globally aware than now.

However, international students are migrants even if temporary and just like other migrants, they too at time face identity crisis. In my opinion, having talked to many of my colleagues, students face greater problems, mental and psychological (compared to the migrated families) which they themselves are oblivious about. Many have great experience living on their own, making friends but also experience loneliness, homesickness, emotional breakdown sudden increase in responsibilities, language/accent barrier, difficulty in finding like-minded people and other issues settling in at some point in their stay. Transition phase might be short or long depending on their personalities but there are common problems every international student could relate to. Talking from my experience so far, I often question my identity as a Pakistani student living in Canada who is not so desi like the students I meet here from Pakistan as I have spent my teenage in Middle East (UAE and Saudi Arabia) but also not so angrez as the Canadian born students with a Pakistani heritage.  These migrations from country to country does lead to confusion, and again the two sides of migrating to developed nations for a better future can be debated for hours. I have seen the elderly missing their heritage and home countries but moved for security and better environment for children.  But there are those who are contented with their move and have no regrets. However, one thing I observed is that migration and re-settlement are difficult and the locals should appreciate and play their role in making the new comers feel at home. For students who are working hard not just academically but finding their path towards permanent residency, trying to find jobs and settle down should be helped by others especially those who were once migrants themselves and have been through the whole phase of identity/social crisis and dealt with it. When I first came here, I tried meeting people from Pakistani society and understand the system, get support but it seems people are busy in their own work and have little time for the new comers. Communities should be welcoming and open for the students belonging from their nation who came on their own and help them connect to the right people, mentors , career counsellor and help keep the culture alive at the same time because one thing impacted the most due to globalization is  amalgamation and blurred uniqueness of different cultures.

 

Niagara falls visit 2016

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Hello peeps. Yesterday I went to Niagara falls with my sister and cousin and I must say that the falls were beyond amazing. Experiencing it was so much better than what I saw in videos or photos, it can not be expressed in words. We went all the way from Whitby to Niagara on the lake which was a 2 hours journey. The weather was cool and the scenery was breathtaking. There were vine trees and green houses on the way making every area better than the previous. After doing the boat cruise and cheering at the Americans on the other side, we went to Clifton hill and took a five attractions pass. Overall it was a great trip and to everyone going to Canada as a tourist, visiting Niagara falls should be in the top of the list. Here’s some pictures of the trip.

IMG_20160719_034340IMG_20160719_034208Bridge connecting Canada and USIMG_20160719_041757.