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International Students Adjust to Life at NAIT

Russian woman stands in front of art display.

By Sara Gouda

There are 1,900 international students at NAIT from 88 different countries. There are some challenges such as socializing, dealing with homesickness, language proficiency and finding residence.

Russian student Ekaterina Mekshenkova transferred from Moscow and is enrolled in NAIT’s Digital Media and IT program.

Mekshenkova is impressed by the number of services available to students, especially to international ones.

“I have been here for just one week, but I already feel that there are many opportunities to make my studies not only useful, but also fun. I look forward to attending fitness classes, enjoying the pool, meeting Flynn and visiting career fairs. I also hope to make many friends here,” said Mekshenkova.

She said she struggles with courses that require a lot of oral and written communication assignments.

“I feel that I need to work harder than English-speaking students. And another issue is the tuition fees, which is much higher for international students,” said Mekshenkova.

Jobien Panggat, from the Philippines, is expected to graduate this semester from NAIT’s DMIT program. An issue lots of people struggle with is making friends and creating community.

Russian woman stands in front of art display.
Ekaterina Mekshenkova, from Moscow, is enrolled in NAIT’s Digital Media and IT program. | Supplied photo.

“I think one of the best experiences that I have is volunteering at NAIT because from those events, I felt not alone and was happy to mingle with different people,” said Panggat.

Panggat said he easily adapted to the culture because he has an open mind and positive attitude towards everything, including the weather.

“The weather, I really love cold weather. I didn’t have an adjustment issue with the cold weather. Cold weather is the best for me,” he said.

He deals with homesickness by diverting his attention to different activities that NAIT offers, such as “being active in the international centre so I save myself from feeling homesick”.

Yuti Shastri, from Zambia, is now on her second semester of Mechanical Engineering.

“Last winter break I was at home here and I was just wondering what the hell am I even doing here! What am I even doing with this program at all? I don’t have anyone here; I don’t have any family here,” said Shastri.

Shastri reminds herself that she had a valid reason for uplifting her life and moving here.

“There weren’t many good universities back home in Zambia, and it wasn’t easy to come to Canada to study. This is a privilege I’ve been given. I must utilize it,” said Shastri.

Shastri continued by saying that she had difficulty finding accommodation and that she wasted 4 hours on the bus everyday for three months when she first arrived.

“I was living in a hotel for a week, and I wasn’t familiar with the streets or area so I paid for a house that was too far, and took me 2 hours to arrive to campus,” said Shastri.

She also said during the winter break, the weather also took a toll on her health, as she was not used to this kind of dryness, in comparison to the tropical weather in Zambia.

Shastri said she really struggled at first as she didn’t know anyone and felt homesick.
“Just ask for help whenever you need it, do not keep anything to yourself. Reach out to people, you are not alone.”

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