Life at BCIT: International student makes connections and promotes well-being among her peers

Aru Basbulat’s passion for math led her to move from Kazakhstan to Canada to enrol in the full-time Accounting Diploma program at BCIT. “There’s beauty in some solutions,” says Aru. “I enjoy numbers and problem-solving.” She chose BCIT because Canadian credentials are widely recognized throughout the world and in particular, BCIT is known for its high graduate employment rates.

Aru and her classmates work on a tax assignment in a smart study room.

Peer support—how the cohort model builds a network for success

When Aru started her program, she didn’t know any of her peers. Now, she says, “we share a common story.” This is because she is part of a cohort—a small set of students that takes all their classes together. “At BCIT, we find cohort learning to be beneficial because it provides students with an opportunity to collaborate in smaller class settings, thereby allowing them to not only have more face-to-face time with each instructor but more peer-to-peer contact. This is optimal because the students can bounce ideas off each other, collaborate, connect, and network as they move into their professional careers,” says Hala Rawji, Program Head, Accounting Diploma.

BCIT maintains this system because it better reflects how students will work in the real world, giving them a more team-based experience. “The BCIT cohort system allows students to get to know one another in a way other post-secondary institutions do not, as a student has all classes with the same set throughout the semester,” explains Hala. “The opportunity to ask questions in a live setting like this is extremely helpful, and the small class sizes make for a comfortable, non-judgmental atmosphere.” The smaller class size also allows students to gain valuable time to interact with their instructors, who are experts in their field.

Aru works closely with her cohort, working on group projects and studying together for their exams.

See more: Why international students choose BCIT

BCIT Student Life Ambassadors intramural volleyball team.

Shaping the student experience at BCIT

For Aru, connecting with the community is an important part of the student experience. A great inspiration was her friend from home, who had attended BCIT and recommended it to her. He encouraged her to reach out and connect with other students. “My friend suggested that I apply for a job as a Student Life Ambassador. I had some doubts, as I was going home for the summer and would miss the training. He told me that if I explained my situation, the worst thing they could do is say no.”

The Student Life Office said “yes,” and Aru was hired and trained online before coming back for her second year. In her role, she helps new students navigate life at BCIT. The training provided her with communication skills and education on the Eight Dimensions of Well-being—support tools that all students can access at BCIT. Aru finds that balancing study and social life is important for students to thrive.

To promote physical and social well-being among her peers, she and a group of Student Life Ambassadors formed an intramural volleyball team. New to the sport, Aru appreciates the encouragement she received from her teammates. She is inspired to branch out to other intramural activities like badminton. These are the experiences that enrich her sense of wellness and connection to the community.

Campus life as a resident in BCIT Student Housing

Living in BCIT Student Housing, Aru’s commute to school is at most a 5-minute walk. She lives with students from different backgrounds who know how it feels to be new in Vancouver. They enjoy sharing meals together and learning about their different cultural traditions. Although she found it challenging to understand things at first, in her second year, she says, “I just realized that when I talk to myself now, it’s in English.” Now, she is looking forward to what her future in Canada brings. 

Having just completed her midterm exams, Aru pulls out a crystal, her good luck omen. With this, along with all her hours of hard work and studying, she hopes to achieve the necessary grades to continue her bachelor’s degree. Aru’s goal is to get her credentials and start working in her dream job. “I really enjoy cost accounting and payroll,” she says.  

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About Life at BCIT Series:

The Life at BCIT Series depicts moments in the lives of students each contributing uniquely to the richness and diversity of the BCIT community. Follow along on BCIT News to get a glimpse into the lives of BCIT students. Visit our Future Students page to learn more about studying at BCIT.

Day in the Life at BCIT Burnaby Campus


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