New year marks a new life in Canada for incoming international students

Students from around the world participated in orientation activities for the English for Academic Preparation (EAP) program on January 2 -3 and postsecondary graduate programs on January 3.


For many Niagara College students, the new year welcomed a new beginning in Canada as the College continues to welcome students from around the world.

After deciding to study in Canada, Sergio Salgado López from Salamanca, Guanajuato, Mexico, shared that he was looking for a college that had the core fundamentals of Canadian values and traditions. He felt that NC was the best option. A chemical engineer in Mexico, Salgado López hopes to apply for one of NC’s international business programs after improving his English with the English for Academic Preparation (EAP) program.

“I specialize in environmental chemistry and hope to implement some of my previous work in Mexico after graduating from Niagara College, living the Canadian dream,” said Salgado López.

He shared that he was looking forward to orientation to learn more about day-to-day Canadian life and had received support before arriving in Canada that assisted with his transition.

“I received a few emails from Niagara College that outlined the Orientation itinerary, tips to look for a place to live and things to be made aware of – it was very helpful,” he said.

Yousef Abu Alhaija from Amman, Jordan, worked as a pharmacist in his home country. He is now enrolled in the EAP program looking to further advance his career. He explained how he would like to work within the region of Jordan for a global Canadian medical company as a salesperson or medical representative, hoping to combine the teachings of one of NC’s international business programs with his previous work experience in pharmacy.

Haitian Samara from Mafraq, Jordan, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from a Jordanian university and is currently enrolled in the EAP program in hopes of entering NC’s Industrial Automation program. He explained that orientation introduced him to new friends from different cultures, allowing him to practice and improve his English, and his cultural competency.

Some international students volunteer at the EAP program orientation on January 2. Most of these student volunteers are graduates of the program.

“It exposes you to how life is in another culture and allows you to learn from their life experiences,” said Samara. “Gaining a deeper understanding of how other cultures work teaches you to become more sympathetic to peoples’ differences and connect with more people.”

Lena Chall from Berlin, Germany, who is in the Broadcasting -Radio, Television, Film program, believes that studying in English will allow her to work all over the globe, enabling her to become more world ready. After working on film sets in Germany for three years, she thought, “This is not enough for me – I want to learn and study it; I want to become someone someday.”

Although she was excited to learn more about the Canadian college system at orientation, she explained how she has received numerous emails from NC leading up to the beginning of the term that helped prepare her.

“I was overwhelmed when I saw this tiny suitcase was all I could bring, but NC’s emails helped put me at ease by outlining a list of packing essentials,” she said.

Before arriving in Canada, students receive a wide range of supports aimed to ensure they have a positive experience and have the resources to allow for a smoother transition to life in Canada and to student life at NC. Committed to ensuring student success, the College has implemented many new initiatives for incoming students.

Since August, the College has been hosting Facebook Live events to educate students about what they need to know before arriving in Canada to attend NC. Its new series called ‘The Tour’ encourages students to share their questions and receive instantaneous answers. Each monthly session focuses on a school of study or service.

Another new initiative is a weekly bulletin sent out four weeks prior to the start of term that provides key information regarding student life and what to expect at NC, highlighting key links and updates for students. Pre-arrival training modules are available on the website under Be NC Ready as well as on the NC International mobile application. Requiring approximately 30 minutes to complete, the modules educate and quiz students on information, resources and tools that are available to help them transition and prepare for academic success. The successful completion of these modules will also be recorded on the student’s Co-Curricular Record.

Rashaeda Bailey and Takiea Lattibeaudiere are both semester exchange students from Excelsior Community College in Kingston, Jamaica and are enrolled in NC’s International Commerce program. Bailey and Lattibeaudiere noted that NC  provided them with a plethora of information and resources to read before arriving in Canada referencing the ‘4 C’s of College in Canada’ weekly bulletin, training modules, MyNC, and the helpfulness of NC’s staff. Hoping to begin a business together upon returning home to Jamaica, the two friends believe their international exchange opportunity at NC will further enhance their skillsets.

Both proud and ambitious mothers, the Jamaican students find one of their greatest strengths and motivations to be their children. “I want to make a better life for my daughter,” said Bailey. She shared that she believes studying at Niagara College will expose her to a new way of living, allowing her to better appreciate and accept others.

Transitioning from another country to a new educational system and a new living environment can be challenging for students and as such, Niagara College’s pre-arrival supports and Orientation are key elements in supporting student success.