Have you ever felt homesick? As international students, we have to change from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar environment. We have to leave our family and friends, and we have to speak a different language. Compared to local students, we have to overcome many obstacles. However, honestly, studying at BCIT as an international student is worth all the hardships.
When international students consider to study in Canada, the first thing they have to do is to get a study permit and temporary resident visa. Without these, they cannot study in Canada. At the same time, they have to think about studying English or French. In my case, I spent at least three months to prepare to come to Vancouver. When I arrived, I got into the International Student Entry Plus Program (ISEP+) to study English as a pathway to my chosen full-time program at BCIT. Some students may instead choose to take the IELTS test to apply directly into their program, but I think I made the right decision to study in ISEP+ first. The reason is because ISEP+ teaches students very practical skills that are essential for the full-time programs. For example, it teaches how to write professional and cohesive reports. After I entered my full-time program, I realized that I have to write many reports and that the skills I learned were extremely helpful to succeed in my courses. Furthermore, ISEP+ gave me a good chance to get familiar with BCIT and to meet new friends who were also new to Vancouver.
Depending on each student’s English level, it might take a shorter or longer time to finish the ISEP+ program – usually, between four months to a year. It took me six months to finish and I was so happy to enter my business program as planned in September 2017. I was nervous and worried about the full-time program because I heard from so many people about how hard and intensive it is to be a full-time student at BCIT. After one term, I understood why they said that; however, I also think if we work hard enough, most of us actually can handle it. Also, there are many free student services provided on campus that help improve student wellbeing. For example, I always go to ehPod or the third floor in the library to study. I use Learning Commons to help with my homework. If I have time, I go to the recreation centre to exercise and get fit. (You have to work hard and play hard, right?) I also think it is important to learn more about Canadian industries and work culture, so I registered in BCITSA’s Career Track and BCIT’s eJobs to check for events and job postings regularly.
In retrospect, I do feel homesick sometimes, but I have found a new life and home in Vancouver while studying at BCIT. I continue to experience many new things and am able to improve my English skills and other soft skills. It is definitely challenging to study at BCIT, but I believe it will be one of my greatest experiences in my life. I am excited to see what new opportunities awaits me!