International Student Profiles 2019-2020

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In 2019-2020, we featured first-year international students on our campus. We hope you enjoy these stories and that you can relate to them, or learn from them. 

Meet Thaisa

“Brazil is a very diverse place, but in a different way. Here in Canada, I've met so many people, including many of my friends, who were born in Canada but whose parents came from somewhere else. I feel like there's so much diversity here... religious, cultural, and linguistic. I'm learning so much from these interactions ... they are so enriching! For instance, you can watch the news or read the newspaper, but it's so different when it’s coming from someone who lived there and actually experienced what's shown in the news. I think it's just so empowering to be surrounded by people who have such distinct backgrounds and to be able to absorb all that.

I think I’m still adapting, and still finding what works for me. A bunch of new things just got thrown at me. New city, new country, new school. I’ve never been away from my family. Things that I had never done before, cause I’ve grown up in the same city, always went to the same school, ever since I was 4. So I’ve always been the one to see people come and go but like, now I’m the one who left. I’m just so excited to go into this, like of course I’m a bit scared … but I feel like I got this.”
- Thaisa Sant'Ana
Thaisa sitting with notebook in hand

Meet Lok

Lok standing by pink flowers
"Macau was a former colony of the Portuguese empire so that’s why we have things like Portuguese egg tart. I highly recommend it if you go to Macau, it’s really really good. And Portuguese chicken. It’s different. It’s not ordinary chicken.
I miss the food. Taiwan style chicken. Curry fish balls. Pineapple bun with butter. Everything. Congee. Fried noodles, pork chop bun. Hong Kong style waffle. The Hong Kong waffle, in Cantonese is 雞蛋仔, and you barely find it here. A good authentic 雞蛋仔 should be crispy outside, and fluffy inside. Even though you find it in some Hong Kong restaurants here, it’s not as good. Also you don’t have that same feeling.
Here you can’t really find any street food. At midnight in Macau or Hong Kong you can just go down the stairs of your home and find food in like 2 to 5 minutes. It’s like walking distance. But here you have to take the bus, and there’s nothing near my house.
Everything I can think of right now is right there. An ocean away." - 黃樂恩
Lok Ian Vong

Meet Tian

“I have two necklaces on me at all times. One is from my mum, and I’ve been wearing it for the last six years. It was hers at some point. Even though she’s two continents away, she is still the most influential person in my life. I talk to her every night for at least five minutes. I miss her gulab jamun. Freshly made, dipped in that hot sugar syrup! She would make those like every two weeks. It was great.
This other necklace is from my best friend who’s in New York; she gave it to me on my 18th birthday. She says it’s supposed to bring good luck and fortune. She was the first friend I made when I moved to Maryland. She even came to visit me during the first week of school on my birthday weekend. She wasn't going to let our four-year-long birthday tradition end and said she’d fly here from New York, and she did!
I have one pair of earrings from my grandma that I rarely take off; I’ve been wearing them since I pierced my ears in fourth grade. She had them custom made when I was born. She’s also  a  very influential person in my life. Whenever I go back home, I’m always at her place.
Women in Bangladesh wear a lot of gold. I don’t know exactly why gold is so significant. Maybe it brings good luck? I’m not sure. You give newborn babies gold as a birthday gift, we wear gold for our wedding too, and it sometimes gets passed down from generations. I would say they are the three most important women in my life...I have a part of them with me at all times.”
 -Jahin (Tian) Nawa
Tian sitting by glass window


Meet Manav

Manav is standing by an indoor garden
 “I was an introvert back in high school and throughout my earlier years of schooling but my dad, who is also my role model, really pushed me to get out there and socialize with people. I participated in a lot of actives such as the Model United Nations (MUN) and public speaking competitions, which helped me boost my self-confidence and self-esteem. My home country is India, in which I mainly lived in the major cities such as Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. The one thing that I would bring back from home is this one dish called “Rajma Chawal”. I have been trying to look everywhere for this dish but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. That is one thing that I miss the most from home and the Bollywood music. Additionally, in Indian culture, home-cooked food is an essential part of your daily lifestyle and that’s another thing that I miss over here. As I also lived in Delhi for a couple of years, which one of the most polluted cities in the entire world, one thing that I would love to take back to India from Canada would be, the fresh air and cleanliness. I really like weather in Canada and I am looking forward to the extreme Canada winter and snowfall. As I am here on my own and have no one to keep a check on me, my greatest struggle right now is time management, especially waking up early which I think all first-year students can relate with me on.” - Manav Jailkhani


Meet Maryam

In Iran, I didn’t have anyone to speak English to. I never spoke English outside class. I feel like I’m okay at speaking English, but I also have that fear that I’m bad at it. It makes me feel unconfident which isn’t great …And then there’s math. English in Math. In Iran we study math in Persian with Persian numbers and names for things so when I’m trying to explain what I’m thinking I have to translate everything in my head. Reading books helped a lot with learning English. When I was in middle school I read Harry Potter, and that was a big jump because it was the first book I read in English. I read all 7 of them and really loved them. That was one of the things that helped me a lot. I actually really want to learn French because I want to be able to read French literature in its original language. It’s so different. You can get the context across but the way someone intends the text to be in its original language is different from anyone who’s going to translate that. The vibe doesn’t translate from language to language. So I feel like it’s really meaningful to read something in the way it was intended to be. One of the things I love about Canada is how many people of different cultures and language live here. It gives me a chance to explore those cultures and learn about them. - Maryam Gohargani


Maryam is standing by a deep grey wall