The International Student Experience at Lakehead Orillia

International students share what it’s like to study far away from home

By Emily Macdonald, Staff Writer and Zoe Dhillon, Orillia Bureau Chief

Leaving home to encounter and adapt to a new environment with new food, friends, languages, and cultural experiences can all be very difficult and challenging to manage, especially while taking post-secondary classes. Many students from around the globe choose to attend Lakehead Orillia through our International Student Program, and these individuals face unique experiences and challenges throughout this process.

Lakehead Orillia’s international students are vital to our school dynamic, as they bring enthusiasm and community to our environment. With students moving to Lakehead from nations all across the globe, new stories and perspectives are constantly presented and are highly valued within our student body.

PC – Robin – Flickr Creative Commons

While talking with some international students about their time at Lakehead Orillia and their adjustment periods, The Argus discovered some valuable insights about the international student experience:

Lubna Yusuf, an international student from India, chose to come to Lakehead Orillia because of the small campus and student population. Yusuf happily states, “I have always gotten lots of help from the staff and faculty, and my professors are super friendly, highly cooperative, and understanding.” Yusuf also states that Lakehead’s international program is “one of a kind” with Katie Frasier being an incredible backbone for support. Attending Lakehead Orillia has provided Yusuf with the opportunity to participate in many clubs and LUSU events, enabling her to gratefully establish a “home away from home.”

Abel Matthew, a first-year business student from the United Arab Emirates, states that he chose to attend Lakehead Orillia for its small size. Matthew comments that “it would be harder for me to interact with a lot of people on a much larger campus,” and acknowledges that he is very happy with his selection.

Joeanna Murad, a third-year student from Bangladesh, states that “the international department makes sure that international students are not left on their own, so they always arrange events, often with the LUMA club, that bring cultural diversity into the community to help people from other countries celebrate their culture and share it with others.” However, Murad acknowledges the struggle of adapting to Western food, claiming that the Lakehead cafeteria’s Western selection can feel boring and that there is a lack of South Asian cuisine available in Orillia. She also expresses the difficulty of being away from family, but says that she has developed a small family in Orillia through a variety of clubs and social environments.

Zoe Dhillon, a Canadian-born LUO student who was formerly an international student in Turkey, states that “sometimes it can be challenging to develop close relationships with peers when communicating solely in a non-native language.” She notes that this sometimes led her to feelings of social anxiety or awkwardness; however, Dhillon claims that the experience is absolutely worth facing this struggle.

One international student at Lakehead Orillia, who prefers to remain anonymous, states that the only downside to being an international student at this campus is the cost. Studying in Canada can be very expensive for international students, as the average cost of tuition is around $16,000, in addition to international health insurance expenses and housing expenses. Additionally, international students are generally unable to access OSAP resources, forcing many international students to incur large expenses entirely out-of-pocket. This anonymous student notes that the high expense can be very hard to manage, however, options are limited as an international student as this is the norm across many nations.

Studying away from home can be exciting and challenging. Here at Lakehead Orillia, we should all strive to create a kind and welcoming environment for all students. Make sure you’re friendly and reach out to students from all over; everyone needs great friends!