International students who have immigrated to Newfoundland arrive with the same intentions as their fellow classmates. They are seeking an opportunity to improve their lives, with the hopes that higher education will benefit them in the future. However, immigrating to a new place can come with a few difficulties.
Immigration means starting fresh in a new country, adjusting to a new school, meeting new people, and embracing a whole different culture. With the emphasis on English prevalent in the various societies across campus, the transition can be made much easier for Canadians.
Jose Hollanda has lived in NL for two years and is enrolled in the MBA program at Memorial. Since moving to the province, his receivement has been fairly luke-warm. “Everyone is very welcoming to short term newcomers and tourists, but I am not 100% sure the same is true for people who actually move here from other provinces or countries.”
Hollanda also cited Newfoundland’s restrictive labour market as a reason for leaving. “At this point for me the biggest difficulty is to actually find a job. The job market in NL is pretty difficult to navigate without connections. It definitely favours locals a little heavier than how other markets do.”
Still, he wants to settle in Canada. “My fiancée is Canadian and though we plan on living in different countries and places throughout life, staying in Canada is definitely the long-term plan. I would like to stay in NL for a few years at least but am open to move to a different province in the future to move closer to family.”
Hollanda has sought out advice on the immigration process but his experience has been fairly mixed. When asked what organizations he has approached, Hollanda replied, “basically just online search and consultation with the Association of New Canadians or [Citizen & Immigration Canada] a few times. CIC takes a long time to get through after being on hold, so I only called once with an important question. ANC is quite helpful. Unfortunately the few times I tried contacting ISA it was useless so I have not done so anymore.”
Despite these difficulties, Hollanda remains optimistic about the immigration process. “I really believe that the process is good as is. Though it can be hard to get your permanent residency, it is only fair and understandable that some barriers are put in place.”
For Rafid Khan, a second year international student from Bangladesh who is a member of the Faculty of Arts, the transition has been fairly smooth and he has enjoyed the culture of Newfoundland immensely.
“Everyday it’s an adventure.” stated Khan. Admitted into MUN in 2013, he spoke of the selflessness of the people of our province. He believes that there are very little issues with Canada, but racial discrimination is still a problem surrounding immigrants.
“According to me, I haven’t faced much. The few issues I have faced and many other international students have been through are mostly little racial discrimination. Some brown people would walk by and [people would] say like: ‘oh, we can smell curry’, which is a huge thing for us. We love to have our own food and it is normally brown people who love to eat their own food. Besides that, Memorial University is a very transparent university. I believe that there is not much to complain about. MUN have given us a very good background and everything,” said Khan.
With the large number of opportunities that are provided through various programs across campus, he feels that international students are deserving of more opportunities than what is currently offered. No matter where you go, immigrants deserve ample opportunities. Rafid believes international students could achieve more and everyone has high expectations, especially if they are attending university.
“We thought that [St. John’s, Newfoundland] is going to be our new home, so we do expect more at times.” said Khan. As a student from Bangladesh, he describes Canada as more secure compared to where he lived before. Receiving better education and taking advantage of universal healthcare, he is making the most of his time as a resident of Canada.
“Whatever we are studying, it is more recognizable for the whole world,” reflected Rafid on the benefits of receiving an education in Canada. Education is for everyone to take advantage of, and he believes that there is more to gain and more to learn from here.
When it comes to disadvantages for international students, Khan thinks it reflects on the nature of the student. Student may have trouble taking care of themselves, especially if they have to worry about problems at home.
“Every semester, we get complaints about international students having academic misconduct,” said Khan. He hopes that MUNSU can be more proactive in making international students feel more comfortable on campus.
Khan also lamented about the quality of food offered in Corte Real. High food prices and unhealthy food diets on campus are negatively affecting students, and improving the diversity of food offered could help international students feel more at home.
Catering to the needs of international students is important to ensuring they enjoy their time here in Newfoundland and could encourage them to remain. Memorial’s low tuition fees are an important attractant to these students, yet the return on investment for the university is very low if these students do not stay. Helping them adapt to new customs and allowing them to preserve their own is vital to ensuring their well-being while studying at MUN and increasing the chances that they choose to stay here after.