Three steps that helped me to transition into a new country
by Nakshita Arora, MBA ‘20
The year was 2016. January had come to an end and I was determined to start working on my resolution – cracking the GMAT.
To distract myself from how overwhelming the mammoth quant textbook was, I dedicated a generous amount of time to sincerely day-dream and googled top 50 business schools in the world.
As a journalism and communication student, who spent three years of her work life in the operations division of an Investment Bank, I wanted to be a part of a school that helped me fit in. That’s when Schulich School of Business caught the attention of my dreaming eyes and I knew this is where I would belong.
Fast forward to 2018. All my 721 bags were packed with all my essentials (including 24 pairs of shoes that I am yet to wear). I had made lists for weeks, packed days in advance and triple-checked everything. I obsessively checked my passport and immigration document file 5 times before the flight. I waved farewell to the country that had been my home for 25 years and I was excited to begin my journey as a student in a new country.
And that was it. I walked onto the streets of Toronto with bags full of dreams (and shoes) ready to start my new life. But in reality, I was overwhelmed.
Looking back at the year that has gone by, here are three things that helped me along the way.
1. Create your Community
One of the first steps to make you feel at home is creating a strong network. This is where Schulich made me understand the sense of community. From day one of orientation, I had the opportunity to work in a team of 6 people from 5 different countries and I still consider them as some of my closest friends. I urge you to use every class, club event and networking event to start a conversation. Toronto has given me great connections and I use every interaction to improve my language skills and learn about different industries while making mentors and friends along the way!
2. Embrace the Culture
As an international student, another aspect I learned from my journey here is how important it is to embrace the cultural norms of a country. For someone who has spoken English all her life, speaking the language was not an issue for me but I learned some interesting nuances over the first few months. A small “Hope you’re doing well” before sending an email or a smile when you make eye contact with someone on the subway goes a long way. I also encourage you to take an interest in things like local sports, food and festivals that will make you feel at home. If you had seen me cheering on the Raptors’ historic win, you would have never believed I had never watched a game of basketball before.
3. Love the Weather
The people in Toronto love their seasons. You can always start a conversation about the weather with anybody. I come from a country where the seasons range from hot, to very hot, to heat strokes. I saw the gold of a warm summer wave goodbye, the orange of the friendly fall, the white of the fierce winter and the rainbows of the fresh spring. Getting ready for Canadian weather was exciting. Whenever someone asks me how my first winter was, I always reply “The warmth of the people here makes up for the cold.” All you need is: a strong pair of boots, a thick jacket and a frame of mind that keeps your soul warm. (Even if it means buying that pumpkin spice latte that your waistline does not need – do it!)
And finally, hold on to the excitement that you have today for every day after this. Starting a new life abroad as a student is as daunting and intimidating as people say it is. This journey is meant to bring you out of your comfort zone so do not stress out (though that is easier said than done). You will make tons of mistakes, you will laugh and learn from them.
This is the experience each one of us has been waiting for. Ready, Set, Unpack!