Coming to BC from France
By Zoé Fossati, a UBC alumni from France
I originally decided to study abroad because I wanted to live abroad in the future and having a university degree from a world-renowned learning institution would easily help me move to various locations. Originally coming from France, I did not come to Canada only for the quality of the education but mostly for the opportunities an international degree could bring me in the future—I could always move back to France if I wanted to, but would also be able to apply for jobs in the UK, the US, and Canada.
Studying at UBC really helped me grow—not only on a personal level but also on a cultural level. Moving to Vancouver when I was only 18 allowed me to grow and mature very quickly; I had to learn how to open a bank account on my own and manage my own life here, quite far from my parents.
UBC, with its very international student body, allowed me to meet people from all over the world: my best friends all come from different countries on different continents—Japan, Venezuela, Rwanda, the UK, the US. Having such multi-cultural connections truly broadened my horizons and my understanding of different cultures, something that a degree in France would have never given me. I now have connections all over the world, which will surely be useful for a future career.
I was lucky enough to gain a second international experience when I lived abroad in Singapore for a semester on exchange. Living in Asia allowed me to experience culture shock and discover cultures and lifestyles I never was really exposed to in France or in Canada. It was a great way to further put myself outside of my comfort zone and immerse myself in an unknown environment.
Now that I have graduated, I am really happy with my original decision to choose Canada over the US in terms of employment opportunities. Canada makes it very easy for international students to stay after graduation with a post-graduate work permit. This visa allows me to stay in Canada without being linked to a specific employer—it gives me the opportunity to work for different companies while getting on the track to permanent residency. In my opinion, the Canadian immigration process is easier than in the US, where getting a work visa can be quite costly and complicated.
Overall, I think the most valuable things I gained from my experience as an international student are my flexibility and adaptiveness. These are skills that are truly useful, not only when looking for an international job but for any type of job: being open-minded and willing to adapt to a new environment will benefit me wherever I decide to work or move. I believe that having lived on three different continents in the past five years truly sets me apart from my friends who do not have any international experiences.