HI, I’m Nafiz. I am an active member of the International and Graduate Issues Committee of Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) at Western University. As an international student in Canada for more than two years, I am privileged to offer advice for international students in Canada. If you are here already, or planning to study in a Canadian university I think this will be helpful! My suggestions are:
Attend Programs/Events Organized by Various Organizations at Your University:
I have learned so much from attending events organized by International and Exchange Student Centre (IESC) at Western, SOGS and my faculty. They offer excellent advice to settle in Canada and to help you succeed as an international student. I have also met the majority of my close friends in Canada at the events organized for international students. So, you will learn so much but also have the opportunity to get some wonderful friends of your life.
Volunteer Your Time for Community Development:
Try to volunteer in your spare time. I prefer to volunteer with organizations at my university. I have been involved in a couple of volunteer initiatives since I moved to Canada as an international student. It helps me to communicate with Canadian and international students and looks good on my resume. Moreover, you will find mental peace and a greater connection to Canadian society. So, do not forget to volunteer!
Use University Resources:
Those who are coming from developing countries know how difficult it is to get access to world-class academic resources. University libraries in developing countries cannot offer access to high impact, up-to-date books and journals to their users due to a shortage of funds and other problems. Canadian university and faculty libraries are well equipped with rich, up-to-date academic resources. Do not miss this opportunity to use their resources and enrich your academic knowledge. Visit university and faculty libraries and use their invaluable educational print/online resources. You can also use millions of online resources from home.
Consult your professors and TAs:
Some international students encounter academic problems at first. Don’t be upset – this is more common than you think. Talk with your professors and teaching assistants whenever you need help; I guarantee you will not be disappointed asking for help from professors and TAs.
Halal food is everywhere:
I know many international Muslim students are worried about the availability of halal food in Canada. The good news is that almost all superstores in Canada, such as Loblaws, Nofrills and Walmart sell halal meat. If you need fresh-cut halal meat, to the best of my knowledge, there is at least one halal butcher shop in most major cities in Canada. Don’t feel like cooking? There are plenty of halal restaurants in Canada, too. So, you can easily eat outside when you are bored with your homemade food. Check http://www.zabihah.com/ to find halal restaurants in your city. I have also noticed that most of the events organized for international students have vegetarian food option for both Muslims and vegetarians.
Immigration to Canada:
As Chair of the International Graduate Issues Committee a few months back, I regularly received questions regarding immigration from international students. Almost all major universities in Canada organize information sessions on immigration for international students. Try to attend one of these seminars if they take place at your university. IESC at Western offers immigration drop-in help for international and exchange students. For more information from the Government of Canada about immigration, please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/index.asp.
Finally, I would say use your full potential while you are in Canada. Seize the opportunity to become a world class academician/professional exploiting the limitless opportunities Canada offers to you. Good luck!
Nafiz Zaman Shuva
Ph.D. Candidate, Faculty of Information and Media Studies,
The University of Western Ontario