There was an article in the Ottawa Citizen the other day about international students. Apparently at Carleton, 1 in 5 graduate students is an international. Of course, this averages across all subjects – my experience is that in Computer Science (and likely the rest of Science and Engineering) the ratio is higher. When I first got to Ottawa, I didn’t know any Canadians. In my office, there are two guys from Iran, a girl from China, and a girl from Taiwan.
I don’t know any other Brits here. Which made it hard at first, as many international students seemed to stick with people from their own cultures. I remember asking my office mates if they knew any Canadians, one of them didn’t, another knew only a couple. With time, I built a network here; my friends are a mix of Canadian, Chinese and Persian. Some of them I met through university, others I didn’t. I’m surprised though, that there aren’t more Brits here. You can study abroad, in English, at a fraction of the cost of in the US. And despite international tuition fees being high, they aren’t that much more than in the UK (and the cost of living is lower – or was, until the economy tanked).
I came here knowing no-one but an ex, who I don’t really speak to. So when we’re building WISE, what we can offer international students who’ve left behind their support network and come somewhere strange is something I think about a lot. Building a network has been the thing that added most to my happiness here, but if you’re a girl and your classes are predominantly male it can be hard to meet other girls. I hope these women come to our events and make some new connections. That’s what (I think) we’re doing is all about.