The international student body at UBC grows every year. With students coming in from all over the world, our campus is enriched with new perspectives and experiences. The interaction of international and domestic students presents great opportunities for cultural exchange. Sadly, there are also certain misconceptions that can separate the two groups. Let’s dive into a few.
International Student Myths:
“All International Students are rich”
Just as with domestic students, there are international students who are well off and there are international students who are facing financial difficulties and rely on loans or scholarships to be here. The best way to approach this topic is to avoid this topic. Don’t assume anyone’s financial situation and don’t ask about it.
“International Students are lucky to be away from home”
Individual freedom is a bonus of moving to another country on your own, but leaving your home country is also a big sacrifice to many. During their studies, a lot of international students miss out on family, food, traditional sport and more. While university is a fun experience, everyone carries their own burdens through it, including homesickness.
“International students only hang around each other”
On occasion, I’ve heard that international students can be a bit cliquey. I don’t think this stands true for the majority. International students do have an inherent connection because of the shared experience of being somewhere new. For this reason, it is easy for them to relate with each other. At the same time, most international students also want to make Canadian friends and learn about the country they’ve decided to study in.
Canadian Student Myths:
“Canadians are so nice”
While I must say that this stereotype has largely been true through my experience in Canada so far, it isn’t absolute. This is obvious, but it must be said that expecting all Canadians to be nice is a bit far-fetched. Canadians are nice, but they can also not be. Like every group of people, they are diverse and individuals don’t always represent the majority.
“Canadian students have it easier”
There are certain benefits to being a Canadian student but being Canadian doesn’t inherently make university easy. They still go through the same cycle of papers and exams year in, year out. At the same time, domestic students can help international students who admittedly have unique struggles by being welcoming and understanding.
To ensure that the diversity of the UBC student body is a point of unity, we should remember our common ground. At the end of the day, the Colombian, Nigerian and Canadian will all cry the same tears after reading the syllabus and will simultaneously struggle through the same midterms and finals. So, let’s have each other’s backs as we try to navigate the maze that is university.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alvin Nganga is an International Student from Nairobi, Kenya. He’s an international relations major and a lover of basketball and all things creative. As a summer content creator, he’s looking to entertain and connect with the UBCO community. In the process he hopes to meet new people and have a lasting impact in whatever way he can.