No matter you are studying or working away from home, sometimes homesickness creeps up and loneliness has you sink into depression. And as you experience different emotional states, you figure out your deepest desire within every breath you take. Moving to a new place, I assume the upcoming journey is the search of joy, of the glow of small or great triumph. But at the end of the day, like other human beings, I do crave a sense of belonging.

Some nights I kept staring at the ceiling asking myself if I should reduce or even get rid of my associations with my heritage culture to blend into a new society. It kept lingering in my mind until I bumped into a Canadian woman, the conversation with her was an epiphany for me when she said: “Thank you for being here and bringing your culture with you, your existence makes a difference for our community.”

Her kindness reminded me that sometimes self-critical thinking and bias keep us from truly experiencing happiness. And I am reminded of how I have chosen to live:  to keep both my mind and my heart open to this new place that I will someday call home. Instead of seeking acceptance, I stepped outside my comfort zone and got involved in social activities, including volunteering for the Salvation Army this past Christmas.

Standing beside the Christmas Kettle to collect donations for those in need, I had a beautiful time connecting with people and witnessing their generosity even in the hardest times. I met people who were in awe of my home country, who hugged me, and expressed gratitude for my volunteering. I busted into tears when a lady asked my name then closed her eyes and prayed for me. It was such an uplifting experience which reminded me, everybody needs kindness.

For the first time, I recognized that community is not just about the people who speak my language, or the heritage culture embodied within myself. It is far more beyond my limitation. For a moment in life, Canada taught me that community means kindness.

British Columbia is a place where I feel I can take life at a slower pace for the very first time. Coming from Europe where I grew up with the pressure to be on time, all the time, BC feels like a place where I can finally embrace a work, or in my case, a study-life balance.

When I first came to Canada I was afraid of not finding friends. My biggest fear was not having a support system with my family living so far away. But Canada has proved these fears wrong.

Community means something different in Canada. As Canada is home to many different cultures, it creates a melting pot of different people all searching for genuine connection.

I’ve made connections here and have created a support system with my chosen family of friends. Integrating myself was key. I realized that community is going out and seeking connection. Volunteering have been another great way of connecting with people. In fact, I found myself trail building with a local bike association that has not only brought me great joy, but also great friends. There is always something to do here, and the community of Canada welcomes people with open arms to be a part of it.

Being a post-secondary student in my mid 30s isn’t something I had thought I was going to be. The urge to learn and become better just hit me. I gave up a well-paying job to come to Canada and to pursue the urge of knowledge. I wasn’t disappointed.

In terms of learning, I found some great role models, teachers, who have opened so many new ideas and pathways.

Today I look back on my achievements made so far, and I must say I’m more than proud of myself. I made the Dean’s honour list, I write for the student newspaper, and I feel I’ve achieved more than my teachers back in school would have believed in I could do.

Post-secondary education in Canada is different from Europe. Even though it is a bit too busy at times with all my assignments it’s more accurate in reflecting in what one can achieve than just hammering in some facts for a final exam. I really hope this concept finds its way over the Atlantic, too. The only thing that this takes away is a lot of time, it is quite hard to find new friends, because everybody is so busy with their assignments that there is just not enough time to socialize and make friends off campus. This might be a more “mature” student problem, but I’m working on it.

Before I came to study in BC I thought I’d gain more knowledge in what I was doing before, but now, all these pathways have opened and I have the confidence to pursue my goals even more.


I always loved the saying that an end is just the beginning of something new. My student journey in Canada has made me a different person. Information is power and I surely got empowered. Sometimes it feels overwhelming thinking of all the opportunities that are out there, and I think I simply struggle the most with deciding what is the right path for me to be the most successful.

As a global citizen I feel like I belong here, but I also belong to the places I have been already and maybe even to the places I will go. To connect with others feels like the most natural thing to me and what better way to do it than with words and communication.

Canada is home now, and I feel as much Canadian as I feel European. Who knows what the future has to offer, I guess I will find out soon enough. The path is not written yet. And that is what excites me most. I could be working for the UN and be a real global citizen by just being somewhere where my words are needed. Not only have I been given all those tools now to be an excellent communicator on all levels, but my studies also gave me the chance to evolve and have an open mindedness about my future.

Indeed, time flies so fast! It feels like I was submitting our study permit applications just yesterday! Now I am graduating in just two months. These two years were very exciting! So many places have been explored, many friends have been made, many life-long lessons have been learnt. The experience gained in Canada is truly priceless.

Every international student would agree that moving to a new country is not easy. But they would also be grateful for the lessons and experiences that made them who they are now. In the beginning, my brother and I were often impressed by how things work here. Some of them are unspoken laws people follow, some are the results of deep thinking and consideration for the common good. Thanking a bus driver, holding a door, enhanced garbage recycling system, ramps and door buttons on every entrance, traffic lights with sound, washrooms in camping areas, needle disposals in public places, emergency blue buttons on campus, uncompromised yielding to police/ambulance/firetrucks and etc. These all show that people care for each other and the environment.

Sometimes it feels like Canada is a hub of the world where many different nationalities, cultures and people were brought together to live and work in peace and harmony for the greatness of the community. I think the global citizen concept is what allows people to prosper. Being an open-minded, respectful and active member of the community are the key values of global citizenship. It’s not a state of mind but a constant work on yourself. Today many people are self-centered and focused only on benefiting themselves. Very often, it comes with a sacrifice of the common good. However, this does not work in the long term. The world is facing many global challenges now, and global citizenship is the tool to “fix” them.

The way I see the world has truly changed in these two years. My mind is now always open to new ideas and perspectives. I see a huge value and meaning in active community engagement. Recently we just finished our Grocery Shuttle bus project on campus to help students with food insecurity. Many people found the service very helpful. It feels great helping people through meaningful work. Therefore, moving towards the end of my studies, I am going to use my experience gained in Canada to continue contributing to the well being of the global community.