Life as an international student in Ottawa

Life as an International Student in Ottawa

  Jueun @ Earl of March Secondary School 

Jueun has attended Earl of March SS as an international student for the past 3 years. She is from Seoul, South Korea, but also attended school in Japan for several years prior to coming to study in Canada. In Japan, one of Jueun’s teachers was Canadian and suggested that she attend school in Ottawa. One of Jueun’s initial challenges was “finding a place to fit in” but she quickly learned that being willing to try different activities was the best way to make connections with Canadians and make new friends — she was soon skating, skiing and snowboarding! She also became involved in a wide variety of school clubs and activities, including Students’ Council, the school musical, and the Girls’ Rugby Team, among many other extracurriculars. The International Certificate Program (ICP) was of interest to Jueun because it appealed to her interest in languages and multiculturalism. She especially enjoyed being involved in the United Nations program through the ICP. She likes that Canadian schools are student-centred and that “teachers encourage students to take the path that fits with the person.” Upon graduation this June, she will pursue a degree at UBC in Media Studies with the possibility of a career in photojournalism.

 David @ Brookfield High School

From Mexico, David has been an international student in Ottawa for 2 years and is about to graduate from Grade 12. David comes from Mexico and a close friend who had previously attended Bell high School as an international student encouraged David to come to Ottawa to study. David loves how welcoming and multicultural his school is and enjoys meeting people from different cultures. Some of the initial challenges for him involved joining a circle of friends, but he quickly overcame any homesickness by getting involved in sports. He has made many close friends through the wrestling team. He finds the teachers at Brookfield very friendly and helpful and says “they really seem to like their jobs working with students.” His English language skills have improved greatly and his Homestay family will review his homework when he asks for help. He thinks Brookfield has a great community feel and likes that there is a wide variety of courses students can choose from. He joined the ICP because he likes the idea of being a global citizen and may follow a career in international relations or the environment in the future. He considers his experience as an international student “life-changing” because it has helped him to become more mature and independent, and he is more appreciative of family and home.

  Graziella @ Glebe Collegiate Institute

Graziella is from northern Italy. This is her first year in Canada as an international student and she will be graduating from Grade 12 in June. Graziella first learned of the international student program by attending an educational fair and she was attracted to Ottawa because it is both Anglophone and Francophone as she wanted to develop her French language skills as well as improve her already strong level of fluency in English. She does not feel she experienced much culture shock, though she thinks that Canadians are a bit obsessive about the weather! She quickly made friends and felt comfortable at her school and finds the educational system less stressful, with less homework and more time to get involved in school life and to socialize with friends. She likes that the ICP is flexible enough to acknowledge that the comparable courses and experiences she has completed in Italy can be credited towards her receiving the International Certificate. Along with some other students, Graziella is involved with a school group called Ensemble which collects donated clothes for those in need. Next year Graziella will attend the University of Amsterdam to study political science.
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