WANT TO STUDY IN BC? BE READY FOR A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE
By Luis A. Rodriguez
Everything started when I came to Canada five years ago. I lived in Toronto for two periods of six months, studying and enjoying the big city life. Some of my friends were always talking about how beautiful British Columbia was and the amazing landscapes that you could admire over there. I went back home to Mexico for holidays, worked in USA for a while and saved money to come back to study in Canada. I did not know exactly where I wanted to study, but I definitely knew that Canada was going to be my destination. While working in USA I met a family (Lynda, Jan, Pol) that lives in Chilliwack, BC and for some reason we got along very well. Soon we became friends, so we exchanged phone numbers, e-mail addresses and eventually we started talking about the beauty of this province and my interest of coming to study.
Since the only place I was familiar with in Canada was Toronto I was a little bit more interested in studying over there. However, as I started reading a lot of articles about the quality of life and great opportunities that the BC province offers I became increasingly interested about coming to BC instead of Ontario. I applied to different colleges in Ontario and British Columbia; the fastest response and the most approachable staff was from the college that I currently and proudly belong to, College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, BC. It was really fast and convenient and those are key factors when you are abroad and have to deal with all the paperwork required for visas and permits within a time frame.
My fiancée came with me and we both arrived in August of 2012. My fiancée started working right away since she came with an open work permit and I started classes in September in the Tourism and Recreation Management Program. A little bit later I was hired as the International Students Activities Coordinator Assistant, position that I still have, which has been very rewarding. My main function is to ensure that International students enjoy the College, on and off campus, and to make them feel integrated with domestic students by interacting through different activities. Some other job opportunities on-campus that I have had and enjoyed were peer tutoring, senior computer class assistant, volleyball game day assistant and cultural awareness student assistant.
Ever since we came here it has been full of challenges, but I can now say that we have learned how to overcome any difficult situation together. I have been lucky enough to be awarded with an International Student Excellence Scholarship, and was recently elected as The Director at Large of the Students Association and a member of the Board of Governors of the College. After receiving my off-campus work permit I also started working as a Food and Beverage Supervisor in the best resort in town, St. Eugene Mission. We have met wonderful people by volunteering at the local BFM thrift store, the staff members are our friends, and they are always looking after us and they know they can always count on us. My personal life has changed as well: my fiancée and I have been blessed with a healthy and strong boy that was born in July 2013. We were totally shocked when we first knew, but incredibly excited! now, he is our inspiration and motivation to go above and beyond in everything we do.
At this point in my life I can say that the articles I read a couple years ago are not wrong: British Columbia is full of opportunities, it is completely covered with amazing landscapes, the Canadian Rockies are gorgeous, and I am hoping that our quality of life gets better year after year. My College experience has been fantastic! I have found friends from all around the world, a faculty that is very experienced and dedicated, and an amazing International Office Staff that is friendly, approachable and has let me be part of them for almost a year now.
To be an international student is a big challenge, but let me tell you, it is worth it and for some people, like me and my fiancée, it will be a life changing experience. We will encourage our son to follow in our footsteps by learning different languages and by appreciating other cultures. British Columbia is a great place to live, work and study. How do we know? Because we live here and we are loving it!!