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First impressions of an International Student at BCIT

Moving to another country can be very adventurous and exciting, but also challenging. You need to consider all changes that you will go through, such as: adapting to a new culture; and speaking a different language. Overall, you’re adjusting to a new place that you will eventually call home. There are many reasons to move to a new country and, in my case, the purpose was to study financial planning at BCIT.

It’s been almost two months since I left Brazil to pursue my dream. I must say, as much as I tried planning everything, many surprises emerged – both good and some of them not that great. I am here to share with you some tips based on my recent experiences in Canada and BCIT to help current and possible newcomers.

Getting to Canada – Before Classes Start
After saying goodbye –which I personally think is the hardest part –you get on your flight and, after some hours, you’re finally in Canada! Of course it’s great to explore new places and be a tourist, but you have to get some things sorted out. This includes tedious things like showing your study permit at the International Student Centre at BCIT (very important!), opening a bank account, and getting a cell phone plan.

I would also recommend exploring some of BCIT’s systems before school starts, like myBCIT and D2L. Those are some of the most important systems that instructors use to share course content, quizzes and student emails. Try familiarizing yourself with them. You should set the systems to automatically forward emails to your personal email (so you’ll always stay tuned) and check out your courses’ outlines. This way, you’ll have a much better idea of the amount of readings and assignments you are going to have and start with the right foot. There’s so much work to be done before school’s even started, so be sure to enjoy yourself too!

The workload seems very challenging, but the reward is definitely worth it.

International Students Orientation
If you’re an international student, that means your vacation days are over a little bit sooner – but it’s worth it! BCIT prepares an orientation just for international students. That way, you’ll learn more about life in Canada, BCIT, international students services, clubs and even enjoy a delicious barbecue and get to meet some fellow international students. The orientation is a great opportunity to start experiencing a Canadian college and to make new friends.

In order to continue connecting people, BCIT also offers a trip to Whistler (with a great discount). It’s a huge opportunity to meet more people and enjoy the spectacular view of the mountains. Don’t miss out on that!

Image courtesy of BCIT International Student Centre

First Days
Now everyone is on campus and classes are just about to start! You will have another orientation, but this time, with all students from your course. You will get to meet some of your instructors, where you’ll learn more general information regarding attendance, exams, workload and expectations. Don’t miss out the campus tour, where you will explore some of BCIT’s clubs, and find your classrooms – or best places to have lunch. I was impressed that everyone kept saying that it’s going to be a tough two years. The workload seems very challenging, but the reward is definitely worth it.

And So It Begins…
So your classes have officially started! You’re still trying to figure out which building you need to go to and, after you finally get there, where the classroom is! I highly recommend that you download the BCIT Safety Wise app, which has the campus map, and important emergency alerts. Also, be aware of your timetable and check if there were any updates; it’s normal for class schedules to change in the first week.

You will notice that once classes start, it’s not going to be a piece a cake. Not even in the first week, when you think that things will start nice and slow… Remember I mentioned to check the course’s outlines before classes started? It’s because you may have some readings to do before your first class! So make sure to keep an eye on D2L to see if you need to get aything sorted out for your classes and to check the material requirements for your course too.

For international students, it can be even more challenging in the beginning because of the language barrier. It’s a lot to process in a short period; there are many classes in which you’re learning new subjects in a second language that you may not be 100% comfortable with and it can get confusing. Because of that, it is important to understand yourself, and give yourself some time to get used to this new rhythm; after all, this is just the beginning, so don’t stress too much –you will adapt!

I am confident that these are going to be some of the best years of my life.

On Your Feet!
After the first week, you’ll get a feeling of how everything works. You’ll start remembering the directions to classrooms, and understanding more of the lectures and labs. –Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lot to process, but now you know how BCIT’s rhythm is, so you can come up with a plan on how to get organized and work on time management, which is super important.

For myself personally, I am confident that these are going to be some of the best years of my life, and I hope they are for you too!