Deciding to study in BC
By: Alfredo Moros, a UBC alumni from Venezuela
Deciding to come to Canada wasn’t an easy decision, but I am sure glad I made it! Growing up in Venezuela, I didn’t get a lot of exposure to what Canada was all about. I knew where it was and a few random facts, but I didn’t know what to expect when I started considering pursuing my studies outside of my home country. For most Venezuelans who are privileged enough to get a private (and bilingual) education and aspire to study abroad, the first choice is the United States. Therefore, unsurprisingly, my first choice to go to university was on the East Coast of the US – particularly Boston, New York and Washington D.C.
Throughout my high school years, my parents entertained the idea thinking that I wasn’t actually serious about leaving home to go to university. That quickly changed the day I came home, as a sophomore who had snuck into a college fair for the juniors and seniors, with a stack of information from schools all over the US. Soon I found myself having a very honest conversation with my family about how important this was to me, and what was within the realm of possibilities for me to pursue.
The US offers a great variety of opportunities to pursue an undergrad degree. Western media, TV and film, books and magazines and so on have engrained in our minds that the US is home to the best universities in the world: the Ivy League. As a youngster – top of my class, involved in many extracurricular activities, playing varsity sports – I easily saw myself in one of these universities. But nothing comes without a price and if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Taking an objective approach to my options, it was clear that studying anywhere abroad would require me securing a scholarship of some sort. Unfortunately, there weren’t very many offerings for the programs and universities I was interested in, so my list of ideal institutions took a significant hit. If you add on the fact that even though I was at the top of my class I was competing with incredibly talented students from all over the globe, well, I was forced to look into alternative options.
This is when Canada came into the picture. I had heard of a few kids from my school going to Canadian universities and having a fantastic experience. Not only that, some of them had graduated already and smoothly navigated the immigration process in order to work and eventually permanently settle in Canada. This was an important factor that the US definitely didn’t offer.
It didn’t take very long into my research to discover that Canada is (also) home to some of the best higher education institutions in the world! The level of instruction, the quality of student life, the services geared towards supporting incoming international students… the plethora of options alone was enough to convince me that Canada was the right pick for me.
By the time applications were due, about 80% of them were for Canadian institutions. I was confident in my ability to succeed in Canada, to pursue work and residence after my studies, and most importantly Canadian institutions offered a variety of scholarship programs for international students, often unseen in other countries.
In the end, the difficult choice wasn’t picking Canada but picking the institution and city that would be best suited for me. I have no doubt in my mind that moving to Vancouver, BC was the right choice. Vancouver is now home, or at least one of them.