Moving to Canada, much like moving to any city as a teenager, is confounded by enormous pressure. How will I adapt? To the city, to new friends, to a new way of life. Will I excel in my education? Will I find a job after? What is the point of all of this? To no surprise, this feedback loop of stress and questioning can be alleviated with a little insight.
As an international student studying in Vancouver, Canada, for the past four years, I have been delighted by the country’s response to my hesitation. I would like to share why I, as well as my peers, consider Canada to be our perfect place to study.
Let’s start with some concerns parents might have.
Home to Great Universities
University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University all fall under the ranking of top 50 universities in the world. These schools tend to be more affordable per semester than those in the UK and USA. However, cost of living, depending on the city, may compensate for the difference. For example, Vancouver is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in North America (although it’s gorgeous-ness makes up for it!). However, a variety of scholarships are available upon acceptance and during the school year as well.
Many of the Canadian universities have great opportunities for research as well, and are well known for their research-intensive curriculums.
International students generally have secured lodging in their first year, with residences at different prices available. In many cases, students can pick whether they want a shared room, or a room that is more private. Wheel-chair accessible rooms are available too. After the first year, more options can be explored, such as staying in university provided apartments or dorms, living on campus at residence buildings, or moving off campus. It all depends on personal preference.
Quality of Life
The higher cost of living in major cities translates to a higher standard of living. Canada ranks above the average in housing, subjective well-being, personal security, health status, environmental quality, jobs and earning, education and skills, and social connections. It was also ranked #1 in the world for quality of life in 2017!
As a country, Canada provides excellent health care at low costs. This is even more true if you are a student! Affordable student medical insurance in each province allows students to have access to good doctors and psychologists, whenever necessary.
Opportunities to Work while Studying
As a student, you are able to work up to 20 hours a week! And the best part is – you’re not restricted to working on campus! Want to work downtown? Yes! Yes, you can.
Opportunities to Work after Graduation
Are you ready? This is an opportunity like never before: THREE. YEARS. After graduating from a Canadian university, graduates are eligible to apply for a post-graduate work permit that allows you to work in the country for three years. Graduates are not confined by the city of their university either, and can move around. This is perhaps the biggest reason most international students decide to study here. Within these three years, graduates who are keen on living in the city for longer can apply to be permanent residents. This process can begin one year after working full time.
A little about the fun things…
Literally, it’s “a melting pot of civilizations” and one integrated, harmonious country. For example, my personal friend group consists of individuals from all around the world: India, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kenya, Pakistan, France, and so on, just to name a few. The international community is vast, and Canadians are generally open and welcoming.
Alongside the different cultures comes the diverse array of cuisines. What are you feeling today? Thai? What a silly question, I’m always feeling some Krapao Gai! That’s an E-A-S-Y craving, with authentic Thai restaurants in every major city. On the whole, you can find just about any cuisine you like, with varied levels of authenticity depending on the restaurant, food truck, or market.
Despite the four seasons (I use the word despite because we Bangkokians only know sun and rain), everybody in the city is outgoing and ready for activity. Whether it may be biking, going on a hike, hanging out and swimming by the beach or lakes, grabbing a bus to Whistler, or to see the Niagara Falls, life is Canada follows that of a curious explorer.
And to refer back to the different seasons… it’s overwhelmingly gorgeous to see the leaves turn red, yellow and brown and fall to the ground. This is followed by a sea of white snow that covers the city, which then gives way to colorful flowers in the spring as the sun returns. All good for the senses!
Music for All Tastes
Trust me when I say any kind of music is accepted. By accepted I mean, you will likely have the opportunity to see your favorite DJ, band, or singer perform live at some point in your university career. The diverse population welcomes all kinds of music tastes with a wide range of festivals to embrace different genres.
At only 151 years old, the country is modern, with prime minister Justin Trudeau at the helm. By advanced, I mean that Canada is progressive, constantly evolving for the better. We keep seeing changes to keep the environment clean and conserve energy, to legalize gay marriage, to make the national anthem gender neutral, to legalize marijuana, etc. Also, it’s relatively easy for immigrants to apply for permanent residency and to then become a citizen.
Thailand will always be where my heart is, but I have definitely welcomed Canada as my second home. I hope you’ll love studying here as much as I do!
Editor’s Note: Asisha Sachatheva is a soon-to-be graduate of the University of British Columbia, Canada. She aims to pursue a career in counseling.
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