SAIT international students share their toughest moments in Canada

Diana Garcia, a mother and wife who migrated to Canada as an international student with her husband and kids shares what it was like adapting to the newly found country. (Melodie Mutombo/ the press)

Some individuals find it easyto adapt to a new way of living. Meanwhile, others find it difficult to do the same.

Most of the time I am afraid to speak with people,” says David Virgilio. an international student from Mexico currently taking a photo course at SAIT. “I am afraid of being misunderstood.”

With the world becoming more globalized, and an overwhelming presence of social media users around the global using English as the mainstream language, individuals like Virgilio often find it difficult to express their thoughts and beliefs with the fear of being misunderstood and judged.

“It’s not easy to start over your life from scratch in another country — learn another language, another culture and another weather,” says Diana Garcia, a wife, mother, and former SAIT student.

Garcia, who moved to Canada as an international student alongside her husband and kids. had to unlearn her previous way of living. She had to adapt to her current lifestyle, while taking a business course, raising kids, working, and making an effort to get her permanent residency card.

“The beginning was a little bit hard for us.” Said Garcia, “But with time we have been able to adapt to everything. Now we are so happy to be here, we are grateful to God.”

Most individuals like Garcia move to Canada to further their education and improve their standard of living. Unfortunately, these individuals are not always financially prepared to keep up with living expenses.

“The programs we offer don’t impact international students as much as other orders of government,” said Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek who addressed international students in October at the Permanent Residency Celebration Ceremony for SAIT Alumni. “We work with our federal and provincial counterparts to raise awareness of what is happening. It’s our responsibility to make sure that housing is affordable, public transit is available, those are the things we are very committed to in our budget and in our strategic plan.”

With no financial assistance for non-working international students from the government, some students will continue to take gigs such as, Uber Driver, and Doordash Driver to meet their basic needs. Others who do not drive or meet the requirements for theses gigs will often depend on family and friends for help.

David Virgilio a photo student at SAIT originally from Mexico shares his personal struggles as an international student and what keeps him going. (Melodie Mutombo/the press)

“You definitely need to have some financial help either from family or friend,” said Virgilio whose program requires him to purchase expensive equipment. “The gear I’m using right now is not mine. One camera is from my mom and another I borrowed from a classmate.”

Virgilio, who is currently not employed depends on his sister and mother, for financial assistance.

“If you want to get somewhere in this country you have to be willing to work for it,” said SAIT alumni Kajol Bhatia “Something that’s very important is build your network. Your network here will take you ways that you usually wouldn’t otherwise.”

Bhatia ,who was an international student herself, is very grateful for the scholarship opportunities that helped cover her two-year program tuition.  As she now navigates the workplace, she continues to encourage other students to jump on every academic opportunity offered to them.

About Melodie Mutombo 4 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Melodie Mutombo is working as a writer for The Press in 2022-23.