Where to meet you all?

As I have briefly stated in my previous posts, international students may experience cultural shock to different degrees, which may lead to feelings such as loneliness and homesickness . Cultural shock can be described as the feeling when one experiences a cultural environment that is different than what they are used to (washington.edu). I guess  all international student feel the effects of cultural shock at some point after we arrive to the destination city. Those feelings don’t come out right away, and may hide deep inside for a while.

In order to deal with the cultural shock, we start to hang out with friends from our country and spend time in places that match our culture:  meeting points such as restaurants, shops and cafes.For example, I sometimes go to a Turkish restaurant to eat delicious Iskender Kebap and Kunefe, and  drink some Ayran. It is nice to be able to find some Turkish Tea and sweet snacks from my childhood at the turkish market, and enjoy my afternoon tea fest! Turkish football fans get together during the derbies in Burnaby and watch the games together.

I have found a short video about Japanese international students and how they spend their time in Vancouver.

I think we all have this kind of behavior when we travel abroad. Maybe it is exciting to try new things at first but i think in deep down inside of us, we all get happy when we see a familiar brand or lifestyle.

Just a quick question. Imagine, you are living in Paris for the last 6 months and you just discovered a Tim Horton`s on the other side of the city. Would you go there and grab a cup of coffee even if there are better, closer and cheaper ones around the area? I am sure that time to time you would do that because we all want to feel connected to our roots at some point!!

 

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Dear Vancouver,I am very fond of you!

When I first began  to think about leaving Turkey and study abroad, I had certain criteria on my mind such as weather, culture, cost of living, tuition fees etc. However the most important thing was choosing the right school.  On the other hand, I just didn’t want to go somewhere where I wasn’t going to have fun at all, and just study.  One of my managers at the airline company that I used to work for, suggested that I get some information about Vancouver, and surprisingly it was a match for me:)

The weather is nice and mild.

Compared with the rest of the Canada, the weather in Vancouver is neither too hot nor too cold.  We have great, sunny summers here.  I especially enjoy those epic sunsets, when the city glows like a diamond. Since weather is very nice, you can bike anywhere you like, go for short hikes, attend great outdoor events/concerts, and have nice walks on the seawall.  Winters in Vancouver are pretty good too since it is not as cold as rest of the Canada. On the other hand it rains quite a lot which i guess doesn’t help with my mood but thats the main reason why we have mild winters in Vancouver . It may rain in the city but it definitely snows in the mountains which is great because after a long day at work you can go to Grouse Mountain and ski.

The commuting system is one of the best in North America.

By saying commuting system I mean the buses, the skytrain, ferries and bikes. When I first came here I was pleased to find that the city was designed to commute easily with less carbon gas. The municipality promotes the transit system by offering a Upass to university students, offers a 1 year free transit pass with no zone restriction if you give up your car, and creates HOV lanes so more people can car pool.  Additionally,  certain streets are designated as bike lanes to provide a safe biking experience and to promote a  healthy lifestyle.  We see bike racks at the every corner of the city, and we can take our bike with us on the bus, skytrain or ferry. I think these efforts deserve a huge wow and I am fascinated by them.

Clean streets.

I think the first thing that helps Vancouver to be Vancouver is the people who are living  in the city.  Even though I am sure the municipality spends quite a lot of  money to keep the city clean, the environmental stewardship mentality among Vancouverites is one of the keys that keeps Vancouver this well maintained.

Nature and Wild Life.

You don’t need to leave the city to experience the wild life and nature. Vancouver has lots of trails. They are big, full of old trees and in the heart of the city. In Vancouver, you don’t need to drive far outside of the city to hike incredible trails. You just simply can bike there in 15 minutes. They are full of mystery and excitement. I love mountain biking in those trails; they are so much fun:) On the other hand, I love experiencing the wild life in Vancouver. So far I have seen animals like racoons, beavers, squirrels, and foxes walking in those trails and other parts of the city.  It is rad because seeing that humans can actually share the same space with wild animals gives me huge hopes for the future.

Vancouver is great for me; the lifestyle totally matches with my expectations from a city and surprises me everyday with something new, different and I look forward to experiencing it more!

Thanks

AJ

Crazy Expensive!

As being an international student,  I can say that I love living in Vancouver. Of course there are several reasons for that but I found living here is very expensive. Tuition fee and cost of living are the main challenges that I and other international students are facing during our stay.

Tuition fee. It is killing me! Seriously. Before I came here I knew I had to pay 3 times more than domestic students. I am sure, all of us as being international students,  accepted the reality but we don’t understand the dramatic increase in the tuition fee. My experience at Kwantlen is a good example to that. It  is one of the good universities in the lower mainland, and tuition fee and class sizes were two of the main reasons why I chose to go to Kwantlen. However, in the last 3 years I have seen 16% increase in the tuition fee. On the other hand we are not allowed to apply scholarships offered during our studies because we have to be a Canadian citizen or PR. Long story shorty, we have no financial support with our studies, have to pay our tuition fee upfront and each year we are requested to pay more and more. In order to make it more clear for you guys, I did a little bit a research on average annual cost for undergrad education for an international student in Vancouver.  As a result I found that the cost of the annually tuition fee is approximately $9,500-$18,000 depending on a university/college (EduinCanada.ca). According to Mercer Cost of Living Index and The Economist magazine’s Big Mac Index,  in Montreal average international student tuition is $13,400. In Vancouver this number sometimes goes up to $21,000(Dehaas).

As everyone knows (I am sure most of the Vancouverites complain about it too), the other cons about Vancouver is cost of living. Especially having the same quality of housing like back home is a big issue for international students. Most of the time being asked for  extremely high rents for small rooms/houses in bad conditions by unscrupulous landlords is a very common thing.  Sean Antrim, the Executive the  editor at the Mainlander points out that rents in Vancouver have increased on average an astonishing 15 per cent since 2010(Stewart). As a result of this unrealistic increase, international students suffer more and more each year.

For international students like me, dealing with problems like these is energy draining and results with lack of focus while we study. So, the bottom question that we need to answer is “Does it worth living here?”.

Next week I will be writing about the things I like about Vancouver and why the city is still a big attraction for international students.

Thank you for your comments in advance!

AJ

Vancouver is awesome and different

It is Friday, October 3rd 2014 and I am sitting in front of my computer and trying to think about 3 years ago. Ohh men, it is difficult to remember everything in details. Most of them are blurry. Himm, think AJ, think! Great, things are coming back to me:)

As I have mentioned on my previous post, coming to another part of the world is scary and stressful and I can guarantee you, reading things about the city and actually seeing it is totally different. This week I will be writing about my first impressions of Vancouver, lets say about Richmond:)

In my first couple of weeks in Canada,  I have stayed with a friend for a while in Richmond. I remember my first day: it was a sunny and nice to explore around. I was inpatient to go out and walk around for a while, curious to find interesting places. After I pass the residential area, I started to see business signs. Himm, ok but they are all in Chinese! Everybody on the streets are Asian. Am I in Canada? I knew that Canada is a multi-cultural country and receives lots of immigrants every year but the image in my mind was totally different than the reality because in Turkey, the way that Canada presented is totally different. Then I  realized being in Richmond was a huge advantage for me.

UntitledAfter a short period of adaptation, I realized I could experience China actually without being there:) For example,one of the first things I have learnt was there is no language called Chinese (My apologies!). There are two languages, Cantonese and Mandarin and they are different than each other. The food is amazing (love it-so delicious) and awesome for my pocket. I started having Chinese dinner every night. Parker Place was my hood 🙂 My Chinese origin friends are friendly and awesome. After so many years, for the first time I can even play badminton with them -Badminton is not a very popular sport in Turkey but here lots of people know how to play. This is cool 🙂

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I will be honest with you, after all this time, I am still not used to bad drivers and the veggie guy who can not understand me, but that`s ok ( I know he is really trying to help me-that`s cute). I am more open to accepting the differences now rather then rejecting them. I am happy with what the life is teaching me.

I hope to see you around here more often , and thanks for your great comments in advance.

AJ

How I came here!

Ohh yeahhhh…Finally, I am on my way to Vancouver.

These were the things in my mind, spinning around when I was on flight LH 492 from Frankfurt to Vancouver on September 1st 2011. What I remember from that day is I was excited, sad and yet very anxious and just realizing what I was putting myself in to. It was a very long process to come to Vancouver and I was very proud of myself, finally I was doing it.

In 2010, I started working at the airport and I remember, I loved the people that I was working with but I hated the job. It required very early night shifts(@ 3am I was at the airport, ready to work) and the job that I was doing was not challenging but energy sucking. I thought that I needed something different in my life, something will help me to find out about what I really wanted to do in this life. I was ready for a journey which will teach me things, help me to get new insights and  grow up. I don`t know why I didn’t check for other work opportunities in other cities or countries. The day I say to myself, I can not do this job anymore, it became clear that I needed to search for schools for marketing education.

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First thing I did was  creating a key decision criteria. I set 6-7 key points  such as weather, tuition fee, education level, acceptance of diploma in Turkey, cost of living, work permit etc. After than that I started thinking about where I can go to? UK, that might be a good idea. I have my uncle there but very expensive. Australia, weather is also very nice there. USA, himm even though I don’t like their mind in consumption and war, there are nice schools out there. Canada, it is a cold country but tuition fees are way cheaper than the others and in some parts of Canada, actually the weather is not bad. After I finish my assessment test Vancouver and Kwantlen popped up as a best option.

Now, I knew where and which school I wanted to go to but that was just the beginning of a whole crazy year. I had to pass TOEFL exam, accepted to Kwantlen and get my visa from Embassy of Canada.  I have done everything step by step and it took a year to come to Vancouver.

Being an international student is difficult, very challenging and yet requires lots of determination and sacrifice even we go to the destination country. I am sure every international student  had the same problems and challenges that I had. Maybe some of us even more. We all realize it is the beginning of our long and difficult path. Not just financially but leaving our loved ones and the comfort we used to is not there anymore. We all start everything over again in another country.

Next week I will be writing about my first impression about Vancouver and Vancouverites…

Aj

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