My journey to studying in Canada - Part 1
When I was 7 years old I started playing table tennis. Since then, I have travelled multiple times to participate in tournaments and by doing so, I have met people from different cultures (which has been definitely exciting!). My diverse friends have taught me things about their culture and helped me become more culturally aware. Meeting people from different backgrounds has been an amazing experience, which has motivated me to study abroad. I want to continue meeting new people and making great memories.
From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t know where until my uncle encouraged me to go to Canada. He lives in Quebec, Canada, and he always tells me wonderful stories about his life in this country. He explained to me that universities in Canada offer high-quality education and embrace multiculturalism. I did my research on colleges in this country and got excited by the opportunities they offer to international students. There are numerous scholarships available for international students and support programs for them.
Even though studying abroad is a great opportunity, there are many aspects to take into account when choosing between studying in your home country or in another country. In order to make an informed decision, I made a list of the pros and cons of studying abroad or at home (from my perspective obviously, but it can probably apply to you too!).
Pros of studying abroad:
1. The opportunity to learn a new language
The biggest reason why I am considering studying in Canada is that I am going to be studying English throughout my degree program (Spanish is my first language and I am learning English!). Being in a country that speaks the language I am intending to learn gives me the perfect opportunity to broaden my knowledge about this language and stay motivated. I can practice speaking with native speakers, which will help me learn faster, expand my vocabulary and gain more confidence when talking. This experience will give me the time and opportunity to immerse myself in another culture and language.
2. Become more independent and get out of my comfort zone
My sister always says that going to college is a big step towards independence, however, it is nothing compared to moving to another country (which sounds scary but also exciting!). Study abroad is a huge challenge and I am willing to take the risk in order to grow and learn.
My parents are always there for me to help me with everything I need, from preparing my dinner to taking me to places I want to go. I have never had the chance to do things by myself, so I think that moving to Canada will help me grow and become more autonomous. Moving abroad to study will force me to be independent and not rely on my family members for support. I will have to navigate through a different city on my own (I am thinking about going to Ontario!), manage my finances and my time properly, prepare my own meals and be responsible for doing daily tasks, like doing the laundry. Daily tasks are going to challenge me to ask locals for advice or figure things out by myself, so I will be forced to come out of my shell and my communication skills will increase for living abroad. This will give me the opportunity to become more confident and overcome any social anxieties. I am confident that it will also help me realize that I am capable of doing much more for myself than I previously thought!
3. Build an international network and make new friends
By studying abroad I will be able to make great friendships with people from all over the world. Canada is a multicultural country and every person I meet there will bring something new and different to my life, which can teach me about other cultures, make me more culturally aware, sensitive, and well-rounded.
I am convinced that networking opportunities will simply come to me. If I decide to live on campus, then I will meet many people from other countries simply through daily tasks like doing the laundry or buying groceries. Additionally, if I want to actively build a network, then I also have the option of talking with the international office about community activities or meeting with the host university’s professors during their office hours.
Cons of studying abroad:
1. Change in lifestyle: spending time away from my family and friends
Living abroad sounds exciting because I will be independent and I will have new experiences, but I will miss my loved ones. I have always been close to my family and friends. I love spending time with them and while I am away from home, I will miss out on some exciting things, like parties, family celebrations and vacations. Even though technology facilitates communication, the time differences can make calling and texting frequently more complicated.
2. Personal finances: more expenses
Even though universities in other countries give great scholarships and grants to international students, I will still be spending more money abroad. My expenses will increase exponentially as I will have to pay rent (whether I decide to live on campus or in an apartment near the university), transportation, buy groceries and spend on recreational activities.
I will have to organize properly my budget and commit to working a part-time job to afford all of my expenses.
3. Language and cultural barriers
Moving abroad to study is an amazing opportunity to learn another language. However, initially, I may have certain problems with language barriers. This is particularly true in the beginning when I need to set up a bank account and find housing. It is also likely that I will run into cultural barriers related to religion, gender roles, or communication styles.
I would be learning in my native language, which would be easier for me. However, I wouldn’t be learning English, which is important for me as a student wanting to study Business. English is the language of business and taking the harder route will help me in the future.
I would be learning in English, which may bring me some problems with language barriers. However, I would be learning a second language and experiencing diversity in my classes. As Canada is a multicultural country, there would be different points of view and I would learn about new cultures.
I would have the opportunity to find a job near my home, but I wouldn’t receive a great salary as a college student. I would probably have to wait until graduating from university to find a high-paying job.
I would have the opportunity to work on campus and use the money to afford my living expenses. Canada offers higher-paying jobs to university students.
The exciting part of studying in my home country is that I would experience the typical university life. I would have the opportunity to be in the same university as my friends and go to parties with them.
If I decide to study in Canada, I would have the opportunity to travel frequently and get to know new places in this beautiful country. I would also become more independent and self-sufficient.
Family and friends
If I choose to stay in my home country, I would have the opportunity to stay with my family and friends. I have always been very close to them, which makes me think that I would feel a bit lonely without them.
I would have the opportunity to make new friends from all over the world and build an international network, which sounds very exciting and will help in the future when starting my own business and finding a job.
I would live in my parents’ house and spend little on local transportation, recreational activities, etc. My parents and I would save a huge amount of money.
I would have higher living expenses as I would have to rent an apartment or dorm on campus, buy food, spend on local transportation, etc. The increased expenses make me feel worried, but as I am committed to working on a part-time job, I would be able to cover my expenses.
This blog post was actually written in March 2021, but I am putting the date of the day it happened to be more realistic.