A feeling of belonging in a foreign land: Self-awareness and self-acceptance

It has been three years since I came to Vancouver to pursue my Bachelor’s degree. As I write this blog, I find myself in a comfortable position with my life here. I’m emotionally connected with friends I’ve made, I’ve stayed on top of studies and work, and I’m starting to take on responsibilities as an adult.

However, looking back, it has not been always easy, especially during my first few months here. Learning to live in a foreign country, transitioning from high school to university, and becoming independent in every way possible. I remember not having the courage to speak in a 150-person lecture hall given my shyness and language barriers. I remember feeling homesick and feeling envious of domestic friends who got to go home every day. I remember getting stressed about all sorts of IRCC paperwork, bank statements, and insurance; all things I never used to worry about.

What would I recommend to incoming international students? Strategize what social relationships to maintain, think about how much time to dedicate to work, hobbies, and studying, and recognize what is creating a meaningful impact for your life. Disengage with ones that do not. What has helped me is staying active in clubs, working a part-time job or two, doing volunteer work, and being responsible for my own learning. Over the years, my involvement in these things has strengthened my soft and hard skills and exposed me to numerous opportunities.

I certainly do miss the comfort I get back home under the protection of my loving parents. However, growing up is about exploring new adventures and taking risks. As I continue to build relationships and a life here, this land once foreign to me has started to feel like home.