Advice for international students at the University of Guelph

Advice for international students at the University of Guelph


Overcoming the challenges of starting university in a new country

Provided by Tadiwanashe Christabel Mateta

Name: Tadiwanashe Christabel Mateta

Origin: Harare, Zimbabwe

Program: B.A. International Development, second year

Greatest difficulty in moving to Guelph: “Adjusting to different cultures.”

How that difficulty was overcome: “By becoming more open-minded, accepting that everyone is different and that our differences make us stronger instead of breaking us apart.”

What Tadiwanashe likes about Guelph: “Guelph is focused on student life. There are many different events set up throughout the year to make sure that you have a full student experience, including many memorable moments.”

Provided by Hadeel Nasser Iraq

Name: Hadeel Nasser Iraq

Origin: From Cairo, Egypt; resides in Dubai, UAE

Program: B.Sc. Biomedical Toxicology, second year

Greatest difficulty in moving to Guelph: “The weather. Both Egypt and UAE have a very harsh and dry sunny weather almost all year round! So adjusting to the freezing climate of Canada was certainly challenging as it was a major change — but I got to see snow for the first time!”

How that difficulty was overcome: “I asked around for specific clothes and boots that should be worn; everyone was very helpful and showed me great shops within my budget!”

What Hadeel likes about Guelph: “The community. I cannot emphasize enough the friendliness and loving nature of everyone here. I felt so welcomed and a part of a close-knit, supportive society. I can proudly call it my home away from home!”

Photo provided by Yen Lin Lew

Name: Yen Lin Lew

Origin: Senai, Johor, Malaysia

Program: B.Sc. Microbiology (Co-Op), third year

Greatest difficulty in moving to Guelph/Canada: “I moved to Canada three years ago and started my grade 12 here. … Canada weather never bored you out, it never stops changing. Rainy, sunny, snowy, all can happen in a day. If you are from a tropical country, I feel you. My home country’s weather is 33 degrees every day. When I first came here, the coldest winter was minus 33 degrees. Despite all that, it is still fun to live in a seasonal country!”

How that difficulty was overcome: “Well of course, I spent a lot of money on winter coats and outfits. Jackets, earmuffs, scarves, warm socks, fuzzy pants, sweaters, knit wears, you name it. However, if you are indeed a shopaholic, this would not be a problem as you can enjoy the get-ready-for-winter shopping spree! Tips to get some great and cheap clothing — buy them earlier, or after season as there’s usually a must-go sale. Fun fact, checking the weather daily has been my morning habit ever since I moved here!”

What Yen Lin likes about Guelph: “I love nature. If you are a nature lover, Guelph is definitely a sweet place for you! Just bike and explore around the city and the streets in downtown. In the fall, make sure you go to the parks and lakes. Trust me, Guelph has fresher air than many other cities!”

Mariah Bridgeman | The Ontarion

Name: Kareem Skinner

Origin: Arima, Trinidad and Tobago

Program: B.Sc. Chemistry, fourth year

Greatest difficulty in moving to Guelph: “Adjusting to the workload of the chemistry program while at the same time having to become acquainted with a new city and country. At first no one could understand me. I speak English but I use different words and the way I pronounce them is different, I also speak a lot faster than people do here.”

Overcoming the difficulty: “Making lots of friends, especially in my program, and spending time with them to correct* my accent.  Always looking for different activities to become involved in.”

What Kareem likes about Guelph: “I love Guelph; it’s very safe and I feel comfortable here, the people are great, the city is beautiful, and if you look you can find different things to do for any type of person.”

Editor’s Note: Please remember that there is no single correct accent to have. It’s just a matter of adjusting pace to help others understand you more efficiently. 

Provided y Mohamed Aly

Name: Mohamed Aly

Origin: Alexandria, Egypt

Program: B.Eng. Mechanical Engineering, fourth year

Greatest difficulty in moving to Guelph: “First year in general was tough. I had to accommodate to living away from home and getting involved with the community as much as possible. I would recommend enrolling in residence for at least the first year; it will help a lot at getting to know the city and making lots of friends.”

How that difficulty was overcome: “I got myself busy with a whole lot of stuff such as playing soccer intramural, engaging in various club events, engineering events, and most definitely the residential one. Meet lots of people, get to know your professors and TAs. You got this!”

What Mohamed likes about Guelph: “Being a Gryphon, the people, the food, the faculties, the student-oriented discounts are everywhere, and much more. Even though it is a small city, Guelph has a lot to offer and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call it my home away from home.”

Mariah Bridgeman | The Ontarion

Name: Rebecca Boateng

Origin: Accra, Ghana

Program: Biological Engineering, fifth year

Greatest difficulty in moving to Guelph: “Adjusting to the weather. When I first moved to Canada I lived in Edmonton so it was hard to get used to the cold. Also the culture is pretty different; people here have more of a personal bubble — people don’t just walk up to one another and give hugs like back home. The food is different. Ghana is a tropical country so we don’t get the same kind of fruit and veggies here, which was very frustrating.”

How you overcame that difficulty: “The biggest piece of advice I can give is to make friends with Canadians, not just people that are in your same situation. Especially if you don’t speak English. My sister’s best friend is from Taiwan and she chose to make friends with Canadians and within a year she could speak fluent English. My Canadian friends helped me learn how to use the bus here; in Ghana we pay depending on when we get off.”

What Rebecca likes about Guelph: “I like that it’s a smaller city so it’s a lot easier to learn how to get around, the people here are also very friendly and helpful, unlike bigger cities in Canada where no one has time to stop and talk.”

Photo courtesy of Porapak Apichodilok via CC0.

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