It has been more than two years since I arrived in Canada for the first time. Now I am sitting in front of my computer and trying to refresh my memories. So many things happened in these two years – I have so many stories and memories that I don’t even know where to start.
Let’s start from the beginning. Two years ago, after I completed my bachelors degree in China, I decided to go to Western to get a Masters degree. I wanted to experience the customs and traditions of another country and wanted to free myself from the normal Chinese life (at least temporarily). I was thinking that after finishing the program I would go back to live a normal life without any regrets. I still remember the day that I said goodbye to my parents at the Beijing International Airport trying to keep from crying in front of them. At that time, I was a very immature girl who had never left parents, never lived alone in a foreign country before and never knew what was waiting ahead.
Everything was hard in the beginning, an unfamiliar place, a different culture, communication barriers and a heavy study load. I spent most of my time in the first semester in the library as I told myself I wanted a high GPA and that was what I had come for. In reality though, I was using my time at the library as a way to escape from the pressure and challenge of adapting to Western campus life and Canadian culture. After a whole day of studying, I still needed to cook dinner and prepare lunch for the next day. This kind of life rhythm continued for almost two terms until I gradually mastered better study techniques and became more outgoing and eager to socialize.
I had more free time and began to participate in many international student events most of which were held by IESC. The International Students Orientation, Peer Guide Program, English Conversation Program and Global Cafe. I got much closer to the big family of IESC. Everyone there is nice and friendly. They were willing to tell you their culture, listen to your stories and invite you to their social circle. I eventually realized that rather than just walking in as a guest, I should try a little harder and truly become part of the community. I got to know more people; I met many great friends and became close to people in a way I never thought I would. I felt thankful and enjoyed every day. I really feel grateful that I could meet so many people from all over the world through IESC, connecting our lives at Western together and sharing our stories and experiences with each other.
However, people come and people go especially for the international students. Western cannot be our home forever. We need to go back to our homelands or continue on to our next adventures. I felt very depressed at the end of my last term at Western after saying too many goodbyes and having to face the reality that I would be leaving very soon. On the other hand, the happy times, wonderful memories and smiles in the photos will always be there. I still clearly remember my winter vacation to Montreal, the fireworks at Grand Bend on Canada Day, the beautiful sunshine on the strawberry picking day and all of the parties and gatherings I enjoyed with my friends.
I love Western and I love IESC! No matter where I am in the future, they will always be my first homes in Canada. I was so lucky to get the chance to study at Western and thank you so much for being so nice to me. At last, I want to quote some words I recently read from the internet which are in Chinese originally,
“When I left my footprints at more and more places, the more and more farewells I have to face. After experiencing so many things, I finally got to know who are the passers-by and who are the closest friends and family in my life.”
Deciding to study abroad was the best decision I have ever made; deciding on Western made me a better, stronger, and more confident person.