Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Host Family’s Unforgettable Experience in Canada

If you are planning on studying in Canada, you will come across the term ‘host family’.  If you wonder what a host family is; well the term can be used in two ways.

Some universities and colleges in Canada offer host family places to stay for the international student who is studying at their institution.  Selected families open up their home to the international student.  When looking for accommodations while studying in Canada, this is an excellent option to consider.  The student pays a monthly amount to live with a family where you get a living space and meals and you get to experience the Canadian way of life.  It is also an excellent way to improve your English skills as you will have total English language immersion in class and outside of class.  These accommodations often are more affordable than living in an apartment either on or off campus.  So if you would like to have a ‘family away from home’ while studying in Canada, then you will want to check out the home stay possibilities at your university or college.

But the other ‘host family’ usage I want to talk about is the one that I was part of for many years when I lived in Canada.  International Centres at educational institutions offer a Host Family Program to international students studying in Canada.  Canadian families agree to be a host family to one or more international students.  The student does not live with the family but is part of the family in that you get invited over for dinners, for family birthday parties, for family outings to the cinema, sports events, help you work on your studies, etc.  You become part of the family in many ways.  This is a great way to have a family while studying in Canada, yet have some privacy too.

We were a host family and those times with our students were some of the best experiences we ever had.  When I think about the students we had, I have very fond memories.  Not only do I have fond memories, but I learned so much about my students and who they really are.  I hope their times with us while studying in Canada as as enjoyable for them as it was for me.

Funi was from Swaziland and came to study Rural Economy in Canada.  I remember taking Funi and her son to our farm where she was amazed at our wide open spaces and often under utilised farmland.  She envisioned corn growing where we had only weeds.  She thought we wasted precious land space that could be so productive.  She compared the rich soil of western Canada to the poorer soil of Swaziland and she thought of how her people would love work the rich and fertile lands that we take so much for granted.  I began to see our farmlands and how we worked them through Funi’s eyes.

When she came to study in Canada she brought her little son with her.  (Here daughter only came during holidays.)  Her little son struggled at school because of cultural differences.  His struggle was the basis for our daughter’s thesis for her Master’s degree.  It hurt to see him suffer at school because no one took the time to understand cultural differences.  We really learned to love Funi and Mandela.

Iqbal from Nigeria came to Canada to study as a graduate student.  He was a serious student, yet great fun.  I remember taking him to a Canadian rodeo where he got to enjoy the ‘wild west’ the way it used to be with bucking horses, bull riding and chariot racing.  He went home one summer to get married and brought back two beautiful batik paintings of the Masai people.  They still hang in my living room to this day.

Then there was Anwar and his brother Muhammad from Libya.  Anwar had come to study English in Canada.  We took them to the cinema, they often came for dinner.  We learned about the difficulties the US embargo had put on the ordinary person in Libya.  Anwar had never cooked for himself prior to coming to Canada to study.  He would often phone his mother for recipes.  I would have hated to see his phone bills!  It was a sad day when we had to say good bye when they returned to Libya.

After that experience we opened our doors wide to whomever.  Because I worked at the university I had opportunity to meet many students who came to study in Canada.  Some days our living room looked like the United Nations because our house was often filled with students from Japan, Namibia, Sudan, Germany, France, Iran, Pakistan; you name the country.  Each and every one of them are still precious to me, I will remember them always with the fondest of memories.

So if you want to be part of a Canadian family while studying in Canada, ask the International Centre at your university or college about their Host Family Program.  Get hooked up with a Canadian family.  Both you and the family will be glad you did.  It is an unforgettable experience.

Women in Trousers? Scandalous!

Over the course of time, cultures and mores change and along with those changes, fashion too often changes.  This is particularly true of women in trousers.

Early Persian paintings depict women in pant-like garments and women throughout the Eastern World have long been wearing a type of trousers.  The same cannot be said for the Western women; especially women from the English speaking world.  At one time it was taboo for a woman to wear trousers.  It was considered unladylike or even sinful for a woman to wear pants.  In Canada a woman was called to confess that she had worn trousers while riding her bicycle to work.  She should have worn a dress or skirt.

There has always been a rebel or two and one such woman was Elizabeth Smith-Miller.  In the 18th century she made a debut in a design borrowed from the East; Turkish-styled trousers.

It is not that the Western woman did not wear trousers; she did, but she wore them for outdoor work or for ‘men’s work.  In the 19th century in England women who worked in coal mines scandalized Victorian society by wearing pants under their dresses to work.  Once there, for ease of shovelling coal, they rolled up their skirts so they were not cumbersome.  In the American West women who worked on ranches wore trousers for outdoor work such as riding horses; and during World War II women wore trousers to work in factories while their husbands were at war.  But skirts and dresses for women were still considered the norm and women who wore trousers were frowned upon.

In 1939, Vogue magazine, for the 1st time, pictured women in trousers.  By the 1960’s designers such as Yves St. Laurent were designing classy pantsuits.  Over the course of time, it became more and more acceptable for women to wear trousers to the workplace, although pants were still taboo.  By the 1960’s, some businesses permitted their female women to wear trousers to the workplace.  Schools were slower to catch on to the new trend.  It was not until 1968 that some schools started to allow their female students to wear trousers to the classroom.  Schools, even into the 1970s, continued to relinquish their hold and the number of female students wearing pants to the classroom continued to grow.

So, in the West, the tradition of women wearing pants or trousers has only been around for about 50 years.  But we have since come a long way.  By the 1990’s it was reported that about two-thirds of the female population wore trousers to work several times per week.  As for the study hall, the most common sight in North America or Canada is girls studying in blue jeans.

7 Cheap Places to Consider if Studying in Canada

Everyone wants a ‘good bang for their buck’.  In other words they want to get something of value for the best price.  If you are planning on studying in Canada next year, then you want to find a cheap college or university that gives you a quality education that is internationally recognised.  So where can you get good value at a cheap price?

Douglas College:  Located in New Westminster, a commuter centre to larger Vancouver, BC, Douglas College has many advantages for international students studying in Canada.  A college is an ideal choice for studying because students have the advantage of smaller classes and individual attention but they still get the quality they would receive at a larger university.  If you study at Douglas you also can consider options of an associate degree or university transfer credit which allows you to transfer to a major university after 2 years of studying at Douglas.  You will then have a degree from one of Canada’s top-notch universities.  And all of this can be done at a cheaper price too.

Douglas’ tuition cost for 2012 is about $14,000 which is a considerable savings over a top-tiered Canadian university.  Universities in Canada charge anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 per year.  That means you can save around $8000 in one year by studying at Douglas College.  Additionally, if you study in Canada for 2 years at Douglas and then transfer to a to university for your final 2 years, you will have a degree from an internationally recognised Canadian university and you will have saved roughly $16,000 than if you had attended the university for all 4 years.

Dalhousie University:  Dalhousie in Halifax, Nova Scotia is a full-fledged university in Canada where you can study for an undergraduate or graduate degree.  If you are planning on studying in Canada, this university is a leading, research intensive university offering 180 programs in 11 faculties.  Scholarships and funding are available for both its undergraduates and graduates.  Tuition fees are around $14,000 per year. When you graduate, you may find that there are fewer employment opportunities in this region of Canada, so you may want to consider relocating to other parts of Canada for work.

Georgian College:  Located in Barrie, a ‘bedroom’ city to Toronto, Georgian College is another ideal starter college for international students who plan on studying in Canada.  This small college has agreements with a number of top-notch Canadian universities including York and the University of Toronto.  One of the plus features of this college is its many Co-op and Internship programs which gives the student work experience while still attending classes.  Students usually get paid for working while studying and get credit for their work experience.  This college boasts that 90% of their graduates get work in Canada after completing their program.  Their tuition cost for the year averages $13,000.

Grant MacEwan University:  Located in Edmonton, Alberta, this smaller university offers to international students studying in Canada all the facilities of a larger university.  It is an ideal place for students who want to study in Canada after completion of their Intermediate exams.  If you pass with 1st division you may easily qualify for a position at this fine university.  Grant MacEwan has a university transfer agreement with the University of Alberta and Calgary.  For example a student who studies Engineering for 1 year at Grant MacEwan and gets a good GPA is guaranteed admittance to the 2nd year of Engineering at the University of Alberta.  Tuition for one year at Grant MacEwan is approximately $15,000; a savings of $5000 from the University of Alberta’s $20,000 plus cost.  Alberta is an ideal province to live in because of its lower cost of living and its low unemployment rate which means that if you want to work in Canada after you graduate, then this is an ideal institution for you.

Memorial University:  This is another Maritime located province on Canada’s eastern coast.  It too is a full-fledged university offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Its tuition is one of the lowest in Canada so if you are looking for low tuition while studying in Canada you might want to consider Memorial.  Memorial is situated in one of the richest provinces of Canada, due to off-shore drilling. Low cost of tuition and living is a major factor in wanting to study at this university, but you may have to consider moving to other parts of Canada for work opportunities .

Seneca College:  Seneca College is located in Toronto and has credit transfer and program agreements with York University and the University of Toronto and other universities in Canada.  They not only offer undergraduate degrees and university transfer options, but they also have many diploma and certificate programs for the international student who wants to study in Canada for a shorter period of time.  Their tuition is relatively low at around $12,000.  One thing international students should know about Ontario is their high unemployment rate.  The unemployment rate in Toronto is 8.5% which is one of the highest in the country, especially compared to Alberta which has one of the lowest at 4.5%; it can still be a good place to study, but not necessarily work.  So if you want to work in Canada after studying, then you might have to consider moving to another province such as Alberta or even BC which has a lower unemployment rate than Ontario.

University of Manitoba:  If you want to study at a decent university at an affordable fee, then you will want to consider the University of Manitoba.  Smaller in size than some of the top universities, it still offers all of the quality features of a major university.  For the international student studying in Canada, it also offers programs that help international students adjust to the Canadian education system.  This is a big plus for the international student who needs that bridge between his/her home country education system and the Canadian system.  Manitoba has an unemployment rate of 5.5% so again, it is a good province to study in if you want to work in Canada during or after completing your studies in Canada.  The tuition fee at this university is $15,000.

When making a decision about which university or college in Canada you will study at, it is important to look at several factors, not just the tuition cost.  Quality of education, program choices, cost of living and work opportunities all must be considered when making your choice about the best place to study.  If you want to learn more about these colleges and universities, or other educational options, then contact your Canadian representative in Pakistan to find out the best choice for you.

6 Reasons to Take IELTS if Studying in Canada

Many students are under the impression that they do not need to write the IELTS exam before going to study in Canada.  While it may not be a stipulated requirement by some universities or colleges, there are several good reasons why preparing for the IELTS exam and passing it will benefit you.

  • English Proficiency is an absolute must if you want to do well at your studies in Canada.  Unless you are an O or A Level student or have studied at an English medium university, you do not have the competency required to meet the admission requirements in Canada or any other English speaking country.
  • English language skills may still be tested.  If you don’t have IELTS or TOEFL some universities or colleges will test your English proficiency upon arrival at the institution.  For example NAIT, in Edmonton, Alberta does not require IELTS or TOEFL.  But they will test you upon arrival.  If you fail their tests you will be required to take their English language program before entering your desired program.  This means that your study period in Canada will be prolonged and you will have to spend more funds to cover the cost of these English language classes.  This is time and money you could have saved if you had taken an IELTS exam preparation course and passed your IELTS exam with a 6.5or 7 Band.
  • Writing Skills Improvement:  The writing proficiency level for academic studies in Canada is very high.  Most students, even if they are O Level or attend an English medium university in their home country do not have the required academic writing skills that are the expectation at a Canadian university or college.  Therefore you can expect to do poorly in your term papers and/or thesis.  Even if think you can get away with not writing the IELTS exam, you should take the IELTS Exam Preparation course and learn how to write according to academic expectations in an English speaking country.
  • Save money and time:  If you take your IELTS exam Preparation course before you leave to study in Canada and if you write the exam; you will save both time and money before going abroad.  English language classes there will be at minimum 1 semester (4 months) and cost you in Canadian dollars.
  • Improve your listening skills:  Especially if you take your IELTS preparation course from a native English speaker, you will have trained your ears to understand the speed at which a native English speaker speaks.  Once you are in Canada, you will find that English speakers speak very fast and you may not understand what they are saying.  You can miss half of your lecture that way.
  • Canadian permanent residency requirement:  Although the university may not require IELTS, the Canadian government does.  Even if you have graduated from a Canadian university or college and are applying for residency, you will still have to write the IELTS exam in Canada.

No, you do not HAVE to write the IELTS exam, but when you consider the above benefits to writing the exam in your home country, you may want to reconsider and along with writing the IELTS exam, you will want to take an IELTS Exam Preparation Course.  Contact an English language centre that offers IELTS now.

Educate Woman

In lieu of World Teacher’s Day, here is an inspirational poem I came across.

Educate Woman by Saudatu Kabir

To educate a woman is to educate a nation
Do not deprive the woman of education
Do let her know what she is to mention
Wherever she goes throughout the nation

Let her use skill in estimation
Let her learn what is real; not hallucination
Give her a chance to get that salutation
Which men do get because of education

A woman that has much education
Will teach her children motivation
She’ll train them to support the nation
They’ll always have the best of intention

Knowledge is essential in every institution
The family too needs education
The woman’s own is more to mention
Educated women save the nation

There are 11 verses, I have given you 4.