Before I came to British Columbia, I had very firm expectations about what I thought it would be like to study here. As I had never visited BC before, I thought it wouldn’t be diverse. And I also thought there wouldn’t be a lot of international students. In a way, my expectations of BC were similar to what I had experienced as a tourist in the United States. The only thing I was 100 percent sure of was that I would be in a completely different environment and that I’d need to adapt quickly.

I could not have been more wrong. It turns out there are a lot of international students in BC. And I’ve learned most people from Vancouver aren’t born here, which means it’s a very diverse city. At first, I thought I’d barely speak any Spanish, my native language. But as time went on and I got to know my classmates better, I’ve come to realize there’s many people from Latin America here. Making friends from a similar culture as mine has made me extremely happy and it’s been completely unexpected. It’s made my adapting period a lot easier. I’ve found my people, and it’s the best feeling in the world.

These last five months in BC have taught me a lot. Learning about community has helped me navigate Vancouver with confidence. People here are very open and accepting of multiculturalism, making the adaptation process easier on international students. After all, we are all here for the same reasons, and I think that unites us. Most importantly, I’ve learned there will always be a community for me, and I love being part of it.

Studying and living in British Columbia as an international student can be quite costly sometimes.

But before looking for part-time work, it’s important to remember that an education is the best investment for your future. During my first year, I prioritized my studies and tried focusing on adapting to a new environment and overcoming a language barrier.

Fortunately, BC is a place of various opportunities. Once your confident in managing your studies, you can find a part-time job in almost any industry to get some experience. The best way to do it is to listen to yourself and identify at what you’re good at. Following this strategy, I got a position as Student Life Ambassador at BCIT, which has helped me get more involved in the social aspects of school and make new friends.

One of the options for part-time jobs for international students is finding a job on campus. It saves some time on transportation and provides a more flexible schedule where you can do your assignments during breaks. On-campus working hours are also not included in the overall limit of weekly work hours for international students.

One thing that helps in time management and succeeding at a part-time job is setting priorities. Sometimes international students might feel overwhelmed by both work and school. In such moments it’s crucial to ask yourself which tasks have a closer deadline, and which are more important for your future.

Juggling school and work can be a challenge sometimes. But if you remember what brought you here, and the goals you’re trying to achieve, you can do anything. The important thing to remember is to give yourself some rest along the way.

Motivation works like any type of fuel, where a small amount is enough for the initial part of any journey. However, fuel runs out fast through the distance between the first draft and the expected results. The more immersed you are in the process of that transition, the harder it is to keep track of the finish line; the problem is not in the process itself, but in the finish line that doesn’t stay still.

It’s easier to be patient through a 10-second countdown because we know the exact numbers that are separating us from zero. But when the countdown is from expectations to reality, the in-between is far less defined and measurable than numbers. But it often seems as infinite.

Creative projects often frame thoughts or ideas about a particular matter in a specific moment; unfinished projects are more likely to stay that way when the specific moment they belonged to has left it behind. On the other hand, finished projects, despite their flaws, manage to complete an idea that can be revisited. I have often found value in what I initially thought to be flaws.

A good example would be my painting projects, since most of them were left unfinished as they didn’t resemble what I expected. I did finish the portrait of an elder Indigenous woman; at the time I thought it looked good despite my failed attempts to paint realistic wrinkles and details. I found the painting six years later, and I realized that the only original thing about this oil painting was the oddly painted wrinkles; so I worked on the details with newly acquired techniques, and the result is the portrait that I’m currently most proud of.

Many projects are left unfinished because they could get as perfect as the finish line required them to be; but this only happens when we use “perfect” as the noun that our project will never deserve, instead of using it as a verb that guides us throughout the process. The trick is not in improving all the aspects of our work—no wonder motivation gets lost in that approach—but in recognizing which aspects don’t need to be improved. The balance in symmetry is as perfect as it is boring, while finding balance in the asymmetrical is a much more motivating challenge.

Once you realize you have gotten to your dream city as a student, it’s a reason to celebrate! However, one of the common challenges international students face is not spending the holidays with our loved ones. Here’s a few steps on how to handle homesickness:

  1. Try to become more familiar with the local culture. Consider your time in BC a chance to do something new and learn more about the holidays here. For instance, Christmas is common in BC, and even if you don’t usually celebrate it back in your home country, it’s always nice to enjoy the magical atmosphere and watch classic holiday movies.
  2. Celebrate with the people around you. Most likely, by the time the holiday season begins, you will already have met your classmates and roommates. One of the best ways of bonding and escaping loneliness is celebrating the holidays together! It not only helps to start the new year but also allows you to learn more about cultures and become more open-minded. I like to organize a Christmas dinner with other international students in my dorm, where everyone makes the food, they usually eat at home.
  3. Teach your culture to your friends. BC is home to hundreds of different ethnicities with unique customs and religions. Thanks to this, various cultural fests happen here on specific foreign holidays. People teach each other about their home traditions, national cuisine, and beliefs. So why don’t we do the same? If you are far from home, you can always celebrate traditional holidays with your friends and tell them more about your origins. In my first year in BC, I prepared traditional food and music for roommates for Nauryz, Kazakh’s new year.

These are just some activities that help me handle being far from family on holidays and focus on the positive side of being away from family and friends.

Although Vancouver might look like a safe city compared to others, you shouldn’t underestimate its dangers and risks. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vancouver, and I think it’s a beautiful city, but like many others, it isn’t perfect. Safety is still a topic that’s not discussed enough, so I want to share this valuable information to help prevent unwanted circumstances. Rental scams and scams in general still exist, and newcomers (especially students) are actively targeted.

Rental Scams

With a competitive housing market and people looking for affordable housing, it sure is hard to come across good offers. That’s why rental scams are so easy to fall for. Scammers take advantage of newcomers and students who look for places with low prices. For this reason, they make the easiest targets and, thus, an easy way for scammers to make quick money.

So, how can someone identify these scams and avoid falling for them? Here are a few tips:

    1. If the listing is too good to be true, it probably is. It is almost impossible to find a fully furnished, one-bedroom apartment with all utilities included in a good location for $1000.
    2. Beware of what websites you use to search for housing. For example, you are more likely to find scams on Facebook marketplace and Craigslist than on
    3. The security deposit. Usually, landlords will ask for a security deposit to make sure you’re serious about renting the place. The deposit should not exceed half the amount of rent. If they ask for more, it’s most likely a scam, and they just want to take the money.

Other Scams

Unfortunately, rental scams are not the only scams you’ll encounter. Emails, text messages, and phone scams are not uncommon. You’re likely to get emails and texts from unknown numbers or addresses claiming you’ve won a price you’ve never heard of. Other claims include your bank account being emptied or having done something bad enough the Government is looking for you. These scams are all designed to evoke a sense of urgency, so you’re desperate to know more about the false claims. Also, beware of sketchy links (which are most likely to come with emails or texts) because as soon as you click them, your personal information can be stolen by scammers.

Finally, phone calls are also a common way to steal information. You might get calls from unknown numbers or calls with IDs saying they’re from the Canadian Government. The best way to avoid getting your information stolen is to simply not answer or hang up as soon as possible. Also, not engaging in a call with someone telling you your bank account has been emptied, so they need your SIN to get all your money back. It’s all lies. They’re trying to scam you.