November 18, 2018

By Saifullah Muhammad, Spoke News

Thousands of international students who arrived at universities and colleges in Canada are integrating themselves into a new society and learning the importance of their needs.

Harshit Thakkar, a first year Information Technology Business Analysis – Operations (ITBA) student, feels welcomed at Conestoga College because there are many students from his country who have helped him adapt.

“I thought I would have to take a year to integrate into a new society because there are so many diverse cultures… but it went so well for me,” said Thakkar.

Harshit Takkar, an international student at Conestoga College, poses for a photo after an interview for Spoke News on September 6, 2018. Saifullah Muhammad/Conestoga College Journalism.

Thakkar, who arrived last month from India, realizes that there are many issues he and his friends are struggling with such as shortages of affordable housing and transportation for newcomers.

Thakkar now lives in a small basement-room and pays $750 per month. His apartment is just over a kilometre away from the GRT bus route.

“It is about [a] 20 minute walk to get the bus every day. Sometimes, I miss the bus and must wait nearly an hour for another bus to come. Being an international student, I am unable to afford Uber or cabs which are very expensive here.”

Canada is one of the top destinations for international students. The total number of students coming to Canada for higher education has grown rapidly. According to the University of Waterloo Facebook page, there are more than 62,000 new students this fall between the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier and Conestoga College.

Ramanjeet Singh, another student of the ITBA program at Conestoga College, has reservations about the same experience of expensive housing and transportation.

Singh now lives with his friends and is still looking for a single bedroom.

“The vacancy for the single bedrooms nearby [the] city area is difficult. But those accessible is almost impossible because of higher demand.”

Both Thakkar and Singh said they are very much concerned about the transportation cost, which is too high to bear in every semester.

“The bus-pass for one semester is $292, which is very expensive for us. It should be at least for two semesters. As it is too expensive, walking to the bus routes is the only option for us. But they should have more bus services available for the students,” said Singh.

Source: Canadian Bureau of International Education

International students not only contributed approximately $15.5 billion to Canada’s economy in 2016, but they also make important contributions to schools and communities in the Atlantic region, said Ahmed Hussen, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Ahmed Hashim Ullah, a local first-year Public Relations student, said international students invest in our country and bring many resources.

“We should be loyal to them. There needs to be significant improvement of federal or provincial government system for their housing and transportation to help them adapt to our society. The school authority also needs to be more open with new students and help them with extra supports that they need to overcome various challenges,” Ullah said.

International students at Conestoga College can find resources and support online in the International Student Guide.

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