Students from all walks of life can be observed in Universities globally, a major hub where students commence their undergraduate/graduate studies. International students form an integral part of this bracket. Apart from school, an international student has their own journey. During a student’s journey, they encounter challenges, diverse perspectives and experiences that positively transforms them personally and professionally. The journey helps to mould students into individuals with unique traits, values, personalities.
This journey is witness to a rollercoaster of emotions and situations, wherein, the grit and determination of a person are collectively tested. Leaving one’s home country, and starting a new life is a unique experience of its own. Students, usually in their twenties, move out in search of better education and prospects for life. With dreams in their eyes and pennies in their pockets, there is a clear vision and a defined objective, which speaks for the conviction of this decision. It pushes them to think beyond the options in their own countries and move independently towards a challenging, yet rewarding environment. However, this is easier said than done, the sheer realization of being distant from your comfort zone, leaves a void in one’s daily life. As per my belief, the actual testimony lies in the student’s outlook, post undergoing this challenge in life.
Devoid of resources, an international student starts from scratch. From understanding the city’s whereabouts to finding reasonable accommodation, to adjusting with roommates/flatmates, these situations are tough to survive. Students need to adjust and evolve as they grapple with the changes in their new environment whilst juggling between their daily routine and household chores.
Finances are an essential component of this journey too. Although most graduate programs are full-time, and students are not encouraged to work during the program, many opt for part-time jobs to supplement their living costs. These jobs, which pay a decent amount, help many international students to sustain their monthly budgets and not go overboard with their credit limits. Maintaining a fair GPA and a breakeven paycheck alleviates the emotional and financial burden on the family back home and becomes the focus of an average international student’s life.
Getting accustomed to cross-cultural lifestyles is another psychological development. Different cultures have varied perspectives and ways to emote expressions. Comprehending and respecting diverse backgrounds is a valuable trait, found in most of these students. This intercultural blend, that an international student navigates, makes them quite confident and duly approachable in life.
Such is the expedition of an international student. They try to live up to the expectations of their close circle, be it financially, academically, and/or emotionally. It is common to have breakdowns and low points during this time, but the key is to be patient and strive to do better the next day. It is no less than a life of a modern-day warrior, where your loved ones support you with their love and hopes of a brighter future, and a future that is so uncertain that a combination of nervousness, excitement and determination flows within. Like a warrior, this student carries a backpack filled with memories and a sense of responsibility to one day return as a hero.
About the Author
Harnoor is an M.Sc Finance candidate at the Beedie School of Business. She is the ESG co-lead for Canada’s largest student-run fund. A sustainability and social work enthusiast, she takes pride in her values and speaks for the disenfranchised! Being bi-lingual, she loves to read and write in her choice of language, and can swiftly switch from one to another. From investment analysis to business management, she is a curious learner, a keen observer, and an articulate speaker! A stargazer at heart, pick a topic and she is ready to learn! 🙂