Moving to a new place, especially a culturally diverse and vibrant one like British Columbia, is both exhilarating and challenging. As an international student who had never left Asia, I quickly realized the importance of both preparation and support upon arrival. These factors played a pivotal role in shaping my initial experience and overall integration into a new environment.

Before leaving for BC, I was grateful for the amount of helpful information available online. This, along with Adler University’s orientation program, was crucial in ensuring my smooth transition to Canada. The orientation program covered essential topics such as local Indigenous culture, academic expectations, international student visas, and social justice. This groundwork was instrumental for a positive start to my time in BC.

My school also offered a Student Ambassador Program, providing new students an opportunity to be mentored by senior students with  common interests or academic backgrounds. This program was particularly helpful as it connected us with mentors who had similar experiences and could provide practical advice.

Despite the available support, I still experienced some knowledge gaps. The orientation, while comprehensive, lacked specifics on local customs and traditions. For example, understanding coin values and the tipping culture in Canada was challenging for me. Including such details of daily life in Canada would help international students adapt more smoothly. Reflecting on my experience, I wish I had known earlier about the various support opportunities and local student organizations available to me. These resources would have eased my initial stress and facilitated community involvement.

To improve the future students’ experiences, I would suggest post-secondary institutions like Adler enrich orientation with specific information about local practices, shopping, and dining options. Often, what locals consider common knowledge is unfamiliar to international students.

In conclusion, while I was well-prepared upon arrival in BC, there is room for improvement. More information and refinement of existing support services could make the transition for incoming students smoother and less daunting.

When I first landed in Canada in 2017, coming straight from high school in India, I had limited work experience, and many employers preferred permanent residents and citizens. This was very demotivating and made me feel at a disadvantage from my peers.

I decided to visit the Career Centre at the University of British Columbia. They helped me recognize my unique strengths and shared invaluable tips which became my ammunition in Vancouver’s competitive job market. Being an international student is a symbol of determination and grit. We can face risks and challenges with positivity, and that’s invaluable to workplaces. While our start might be slower than others, slow and steady can still win the race, especially if we proactively seek support.

In Canada, one of the major skills for securing a position is networking. Every university has a LinkedIn page with an “alumni” section. This section allows you to filter alumni based on various categories like their major, the industry they are in, and the country they’re living in.


I was able to look at their profiles, the kind of opportunities they had pursued that allowed them to get into the jobs I wanted, as well as grad school.

Finally, from feeling lost and overwhelmed, I had a direction.

Upon contacting them, they were more than happy to answer my queries and provide me with tips and contacts. Acting as my reference, they helped me secure positions of my interest. They reminded me of the importance of starting with the basics, such as customer service opportunities. Once you get your foot in the door, it helps you upskill, opening access to higher opportunities.

Getting your dream job is like climbing a ladder; there’s no helicopter ride to the top. Instead of comparing our journeys with others, we should find inspiration in them.

At the end of the day, BC has opportunities for everyone willing to make it their home. The key is to be willing to lay the bricks.

While much can be said about the current housing crisis, as an international student moving to British Columbia, finding accommodation was the necessary step I had to make. The constant concerns at the back of my head were: Where? How? How much will it cost? The price was above all else, whether I wanted to stay on campus or off campus.

My initial strategy was to secure on-campus housing at Thompson Rivers University. I applied for two different buildings available within the cost range that my parents and I agreed upon, to increase my chances on getting a spot.

Simultaneously, I looked for off-campus housing close to the university, in case I did not get a room, keeping the unpredictability of winter weather in mind. I pursued this through the off-campus housing rentals on TRU’s website because I felt the university’s housing would have met the standards for location, cost, security and comfort.

Transferring mid-academic year from Manitoba, my options were limited since almost all the rental apartments were full. However, I then discovered this Facebook group for TRU students, where I connected with peers looking for roommates and offering sublets. Eventually, I found a place in Aberdeen after I got waitlisted for an on-campus residence. Although the rent was excellent and the location great, within walking distance of the bus stop for school, I still had to make a choice, ‘beggars can’t be choosers,’ and this was it. I resided there for half a month before the winter semester of 2023 started.

Fast-forward to January, I finally got accepted for residence and have loved staying here because of the sense of community, which is valuable part of the student experience. I’ve met new people from various disciplines and have made new friends from around the world.

My initial living situation made me overwhelmed, but by planning strategically and acting without delay I successfully found my home away from home. My major tip? Have multiple options laid out to increase the chances of securing a place.

My name is Shuolei. I am a young man from China, where I’ve spent most of my life. I grew up in a traditional society where the LGBTQ+ community is invisible. I still remember the confusion and isolation I felt upon realizing my sexual orientation. I searched the Internet for a “cure,” only to learn there was no cure because being homosexual is not a disease. I clearly remember struggling with this. At the time I needed some guidance or to talk to someone about it, but I couldn’t. It was so hard to trust people around me, so I had to keep my secret from almost everyone, including my parents.

After I came to Canada, I found life could be so free and colourful. In my first class for my master’s degree in BC, some classmates mentioned they were members of the LGBTQ+ community. I was shocked. I thought things like this should be confidential. How could they say it out loud so easily? But that was so cool! Seeing them be so open about who they were gave me the courage to be honest about who I am too.

Even though the LGBTQ+ community has been gradually accepted by the younger generation in China, the older generation still believe being gay is an illness. The government supports this idea and no one dares to stand out against it. I saw a news story about a gay couple several years ago. When one of them died his partner was denied any inheritance because the law didn’t recognize their relationship. The oppressive atmosphere is suffocating.

It is getting better now in China, but it still has a long way to go. When I walk in Vancouver, I see acceptance: LGBTQ+ flags are everywhere, and there are offices and associations supporting the LGBTQ+ community, including my school. Davie Street is the most impressive, it’s a colourful testament to diversity, which makes me feel safe, and makes me feel like I finally belong.

We have a glass inside of us that is gradually filled with experience; this glass is not made of crystal or any regular material, as it resembles our chest—a container that expands and contracts as we breathe. When we arrive at a new place, our inner glass expands in the same way our chest does when we take a big breath to prepare for our first steps; in a bigger container, the experience that filled it drops, making our glass feel suddenly half empty. This happens not only because of the empty space on the upper half, but also because what fills the bottom half starts to feel useless.

Even a great explorer of the forest would be tempted to describe their experience as “useless” if they ever found themself in a desert. The immediate value of what we know depends on where we are, so relocating yourself often means that a lot of what you carefully kept in your glass—more than just street names and slang—starts to feel like it’s only taking up space.

The word opportunity derives from the Latin phrase ob portum veniens, whose literal translation would be “coming to port,” the perfect analogy: a person who is constantly exploring the horizon and observing it attentively is more likely to detect a port and guide their course towards it. There’s nothing that inspires a person to be aware of their surroundings more than a totally new environment; the constant feeling of having too much to learn enhances our senses, as routine and familiarity dulls them.

We start filling our glass so fast that we don’t allow ourselves the right amount of time to process all this new content, making our inner glass suddenly seem half full. We could start second guessing what to include in this diminished space, or we can navigate in its miscellaneous content. Eventually, similarities appear, and differences stop competing for space as they start complementing each other.

But deciding whether a glass is half full or empty is not only about the content as it about us as a container. Growing is about acknowledging the immensity of what remains to be known; if our glass feels emptier, it’s because we have grown as a container. So, we shouldn’t try to minimize our empty space because that’s where opportunity can be found.