Wednesday, August 24, 2011

International & Exchange Student Centre

Aka: Sometimes I forget we’re in Canada....

Shortly after being accepted to the University of Western Ontario, I started receiving letters and e-mails from the International and Exchange Student Centre.  Their website was extremely helpful when it came to planning the move and the immigration process.   I knew I wanted to make it one of our first stops once we got to campus.

After settling in a couple days, we headed over to campus to take care of a few things.  We needed to show our student permits to the Graduate Studies office so our acceptance was “official” and no longer “conditional,” get our Western student Ids, and I wanted to pick up our welcome packet from the IESC.

So far we had been relying pretty heavily on advice from our friends who already live in London, and had experience moving across the border.  I didn’t want to burden them too much, plus they had just left for a vacation, I figured this was a perfect time to use the resource of the IESC to answer some questions.

Turns out, we were probably the first new international students to stop by, as the 2011-12 welcome packets weren’t fully assembled yet.   However, the woman who spoke with us was extremely helpful, answered all of our questions, and encouraged us to come back in a couple weeks when we could pick up the updated new student handbook.

As we were waiting while she was assembling the parts of the welcome packet that she did have, Doug and I looked around the office.   This was when we admitted to each other that even after the moving ordeal and crossing the border, we still didn’t feel like international students.  Going from Michigan to Canada wasn’t like one huge culture shock.  It has been many little differences that we’ve just been adjusting to as we go.   Sometimes when I’m riding around town or out on a run I forget that I’m even in another country.  Then I’ll jog past a flag pole and think, “Oh yea, we’re in Canada.”

Oh, hey - that's right - we're in Canada!

Even so, I think the IESC will be a great resource to deal with the technical side of the move and adjustments.  For example, when it is time for me to apply for a work permit so I can have an internship and ultimately a job here in Canada, that’s where I will go for help.  That is what they are there for, and I intend to take full advantage of the resources available to me.

Actually, it was because I anticipated not feeling like a traditional international student that I decided to start this blog.  I knew the differences might be subtle (at least after the initial adjustments of a move) and I wanted to capture and remember as many experiences as possible.

Maybe I’ll feel more like an international student once I’m actually back to going to class and mingling with the other public history graduate students.  I will just have to wait and see....

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