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Life in a Foreign University: A letter from student juggling masters degree, part-time job and life in Canada’s York University

A student tells us why she applied for masters degree at York University in Toronto, how is she learning life skills and what suggestions would she give to students planning to study in Canada.

Indian students studying abroad, Canada, India, York University, Seneca CollegeMeet Kriti Sharma who is pursuing Masters in Public Relations from York University, Canada (Image background: York University, Canada Graphics by Angshuman Maity)

(This letter is part of a series by The Indian Express where we bring to you the experiences of students at different foreign universities. From scholarships and loans to food and cultural experiences — students tell us how life is different in those countries and things they are learning other than academics)

Kriti Sharma

I am Kriti Sharma and I am pursuing a Master’s degree in public relations from York University in Toronto, Canada. While working for three years in India as a sub-editor and content writer, I felt the need to upskill myself. Blame it on the pandemic but, like all my peers, I stayed indoors for almost one-and-a-half-year and attended online classes. So I was keen to attend offline classes and, therefore, decided to go abroad for higher studies. But why a foreign university? That’s because studying abroad not only makes an individual a more responsible person but also exposes them to a new culture.

It has been over a month since I joined York University. Before this, I was pursuing a Master’s degree in Brand Management from Seneca College in Toronto. I pursued two courses because an individual is required to do either two separate courses or a single two-year course to get a three-year work permit in Canada. There are different types of work permits available in the North American country. I opted for a Post Graduate work permit.

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If the institution has mentioned the duration of the course and it is two years or longer, you are eligible for a three-year work permit.

Why I chose Canada

I completed my graduation in Political Science from Delhi University and then pursued a Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai. While I have studied at the most prestigious colleges in India, I chose Canada for my higher education as not only is it more affordable than the United States of America or the United Kingdom, but the job market is also comparatively better compared to other countries.

I enrolled myself in another course this year, for which I need to attend classes in person. For the amount of money we have invested, physical classes make sense because it is the experience we are paying for and not just the Zoom calls.

India versus Canada: Pedagogical approaches

Talking of academics, in India, while most educational institutions follow a theoretical approach, a practical approach is followed in Canada. The focus is on real-life case studies, and the course content is updated and industry-relevant.

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I missed the deadline to apply for scholarships. So my suggestion for others would be: Do complete research on the universities and the scholarships they offer to international students before you decide to apply.

It took a little time to get used to the currency here, but I am learning fast. I always end up converting everything to INR and get worried every time I go out shopping. To cover my expenses and be independent, I have also taken up a part-time job at a pizza place. Striking a balance between college and a job and still finding time for yourself is trickier than you think. But the experience is worth it.

Friends from India have been a cherry on the cake in this rollercoaster ride

Different countries, different cultures

My experience so far has been a mixed bag. Life over here is exciting and fast-paced. While some days test your patience, there are days when I miss my family and home-cooked food.

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For students who are planning to study abroad, I would suggest learning basic life skills like cooking, cleaning, etc. Unlike India, where you get domestic help, in Canada you have to do everything on your own as labour here is expensive.

Thanks to sitcoms, I knew that people in Canada are polite, but experiencing it firsthand is different. The crowd is more diverse as you meet people from across the world. Being a girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Noida, the experience for me is not just exciting but also helps me understand different cultures.

I was told that the Canadian winter can be extremely cold and intimidating. The temperature here is seven degrees right now, which locals say is good weather, but for me, it’s a bit chilly. Initially, I found it difficult to adjust but since everything — the buses, the buildings, the subways, the streetcars — is centrally heated, it became tolerable. It is just when you are walking on the streets that I feel cold.

As told to Agrima Srivastava

First published on: 24-09-2022 at 21:22 IST
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