It’s a whole new world, new language, new culture, and new friends. Although exhilarating and memorable, life as an international student can also be uncomfortable and challenging.
Two years ago, Anuraag Seshadri, a university graduate from India, came to Toronto for a post-graduate-certificate in publishing at Centennial College, Story Arts campus. After completing this program, he decided to pursue another Post-Grad-Certificate at Centennial, this time in professional writing, which he is now enrolled in. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, blogging, watching movies and shows, and browsing the web.
Anuraag happily agreed to share his experience in Canada. He presents a bird’s-eye view into the life of an international student.
What’s the difference going to school in Canada as opposed to India?
AS: Over there you won’t be able to see people over 25 in school studying or expanding their skills. Life pretty much goes the same track for everyone: you have a job, settle down, have a family and that’s it. Over there you have a regimented thinking. You think like everybody else and there is no exposure to think outside the box. There is no freedom to come up with solutions on your own. Over here it’s more chill, but over there, there is a lot of social pressure to do well in your studies.
What is the hardest part about being an international student?
AS: It’s obviously living away from your home, but the other part is that you have to manage your expenses. It tends to get tough at times, and you can’t be asking for money from home, so you have to be really frugal at times. It’s just our savings that we have. There are part-time jobs that help if you have one, but right now I don’t have one, so I’m just living off of my savings.
What do you think is the best part of being an international student?
AS: It’s the exposure that you get to the culture over here. And you have this hope to do well over in this society. If you do well over here, you will be recognized too. So you just have to get your head together and go about your job, and things will come your own way.
What are some day-to-day obstacles?
AS: I wouldn’t think of them as obstacles. There are no major hurdles I had to cross. It was during my first year that getting adjusted to the culture and making friends became a bit of a challenge. There are also a lot international students; you tend to meet people from other countries and even from your own and you get to make friends. But mostly it’s having a social circle that is tough. That’s the part that I found tough. For me that’s an obstacle. We were taught in English back home, so language has never been an issue.
How does the difference in culture affect your life?
AS: The culture is quite different over there as well. Over there people are way too open. It’s easy to make friends over there. Even if you are sitting alone in a corner, someone comes always and talks. It tends to be easier over there than over here. I guess I find it tough as an international student, breaking into the culture and making Canadian friends, but I do have a few international friends.
Why did you become an international student?
AS: My job was leading me nowhere. I needed a break as well. I wanted to leave my comfort zone, and go live on my own, and get to know myself better. So I thought of coming to a better country to try it out. In India, you can’t quit a job and go back to school at the age of 28. It always seems like a step back because that’s the mindset over there. I always wanted to live in a foreign country and experience the lifestyle.