3 Ways to Overcome Culture Shock as an International Student
I grew up in the majestic city of Venice – Italy, and I planned to come to Canada to pursue my university education as an International student. In 2015 I started my degree in Computer Science at Lassonde School of Engineering - York University.
I came to Toronto with lots of unclear dreams and blurred vision of my life’s purpose. Initially I could not speak English since my education in Italy was fully in Italian, so the cultural shock and language gap hit me hard.
In this blog, I will share 3 lessons that helped me transition into a new country, a new school and ultimately overcome the culture shock I was facing:
1. Don't do life alone
I remember going through a very low time in my first semester because I
did not know anyone in Toronto, I was also very shy to talk to people because my English wasn't great.
During my second month into the semester, I came across York International, the university's department that supports international students. They organized many events, workshops and sessions to support and connect international students like me. I started attending their events and I met many students from different countries.
If you are attending a Canadian university, chances are you will find many campus clubs or communities that you can join based on your interests. It is a great way to meet new people and make new connections.
2. Get involved
I was looking for a job on campus when a friend recommended that I volunteer on campus so I quickly got involved with York International and TEDxYorkU where I got the chance to work on an exciting project that helped new international students, called “Global Connections”. Since I had some experience with video and editing (nothing professional), I was asked to design a marketing video to promote the project.
I used this opportunity to teach myself Adobe After Effects using YouTube tutorials and I was able to create my first professional video. When the rest of the team saw my work, they were very impressed and my manager suggested that I apply for a job opening to help develop this program further.
Thanks to the network of people I had begun building, I was able to get someone to help me build my first resume outlining my volunteer experience, and to my surprise I was selected for an interview and later offered the job!
This was perhaps one of the happiest moments of my life. I never thought that I would be getting a job on campus at York International within my first semester
and without any prior experience. However, as they say where there is will there is way.
3. Build your network
Since then I have been working at York International throughout my undergraduate degree. Over the years I got many additional opportunities to hone my skills and with time, I became more confident and my English improved.
Without stepping out of my comfort zone, I would have never gotten the opportunity to meet all the amazing people I encountered and I would have not found my purpose and my passion. They did not only inspire me to work for what I really like, but also helped me to learn and grow as an individual.
Because of the network I built, I got to become an ambassador for new incoming international students. I even got the chance to host a webinar with York Univeristy’s president, Rhonda Lenton.