The academic experience I had while studying abroad at Columbia College gave me a new perspective. I have gained the skill to study in another language as well as debate, write and express myself in a more western style. Multicultural immersion is also an advantage living in Vancouver, where everyone seems to have a unique story and a different background. That’s why there are so many ethnic restaurants from Russian, to Brazilian, to Singaporean. I think Vancouver has every cuisine covered.
The richness of cultures can be seen everywhere, public transportation is an example. Conversations in different languages happen all the time; some are in Farsi, Spanish, French and Mandarin. This international environment is also experienced in the classroom where most of the students are from overseas. Class projects become more interesting and there is a global perspective applied to the lessons. Students share their traditional ways of doing things back home. For example, the education system and academic requirements are quite different in Kazakhstan compared to Indian and it works in a very different way than in Canada.
I also developed international relationships while studying with people from around the world. I was a member of the Entrepreneur Club which had more than 30 members interested in creating all kinds of businesses opportunities after graduation. For example, one student from Singapore has a family jewelry business and was interested to bring their business into Canada. Another student's family had a hotel business in Turkey and he was planning to work there after graduation, while others had family businesses in Vancouver. Another benefit was that after finishing my associate degree I had the opportunity to apply for a post-graduation work permit that allows me to work in Canada for up to three years and gain experience in my field.
At the end of my studies, I acquired the necessary academic skills, but also unique experiences and international connections that will help me to work in today’s global economy.
By James Chuang