May 29, 2024

How would you feel if you could only cook meals in your home at specific times? This is just one of many challenges facing international students at Conestoga College.

One international student who pays $500 a month, said he can’t cook meals when he wants and he was not allowed to connect to the internet. As a result, he can only cook during his online classes. He had to buy a separate internet cable when he moved to the house before he could attend his online classes.

Stephen Udeme, one of Conestoga College’s international students from Liberia, currently rents a room in Kitchener and faces these challenges.

“I felt like going back to Liberia when I first moved to the house. To my amazement, my landlord’s phone calls were all over my phone, persuading me to rent the room before I moved into his house.”

Many students are currently living in a rented house. They feel their monthly rent is another way of contributing to the Canadian economy.

“I thought living in his house would augur well for me based on his actions before moving in, but the story changed on my second night in his house. He called me that morning and gave me some instructions that I must adhere to. One of them is that I cannot have a visitor sleep over in my room. But the most hurtful instruction is that I can only cook between 12 p.m and 3 p.m., knowing fully well that I must be in class during those hours.” said Udeme.

Udeme said that he regularly misses those cooking hours because of his online classes. “I would often be cooking at the same time as attending online classes.” 

The homeowner, George Nedwell of Kitchener, explained why he gave the student such instructions.

“My last experience with a student that moved out of that room was bitter; he would leave the light in his room turned on and travel. Not only that, but he would also cook at odd hours. You can imagine someone cooking in your house at 1 a.m. It was a horrible time for me. That was why I decided to change conditions for any student to live in my house.” said Nedwell.

International students need to know about the Canadian system before migrating to Canada. They need to be aware of the conditions for renting apartments and can get help from the college’s international office.

“Conestoga College has devoted international students’ advisors that regularly share information to all our international students about how they can get a convenient apartment and the prices involved,” said Janeth Parrish, Manager, International Support Services Conestoga College.

Parrish said that the college has many international students currently studying and they are expecting more international students by spring 2022. The international advisors are constantly working to assist new students in stabilizing.

Conestoga College student president, Sana Banu, said there are platforms designed by their administration to help students get on-campus jobs and to learn about their health insurance

She said that many students are not taking advantage of the on-campus employment opportunities, leading to hardship and instability while studying at the college. 

Udeme advised “international students to review all the rules when getting a written and signed rental agreement.”

“I have painfully learnt my own (lesson), but I have decided to get a new apartment before next semester. I cannot afford to spend the next three semesters living in a house where I can only cook when I am supposed to be in class with other students,” said Udeme.

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