More students from around the world are experiencing Canadian living at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
Last year, 74 countries were represented by international students, on the Okanagan campus, up from 22 in 2005.
Konyerem Tobechukwu Achimole-Ibe experienced culture shock in more ways than one when he arrived at UBC’s Okanagan campus from Nigeria last October.
The 18-year-old pre-pharmacy student says technology is one of the major educational differences between Canada and home. Here, students mostly work on their own classroom lab equipment, while in Nigeria 15 students might share a piece of equipment. Sometimes there was no equipment for hands-on experience at all and students simply relied on textbook illustrations. Doing everything via computer and the Internet is also a new experience.
“In Nigeria you write everything out in long hand and pay someone to type it for you,” says Achimole-Ibe. ?He also notes that many foreign students are initially reluctant to speak up in class. “Some people don’t answer questions in Canada because of their accent,” he says. ?“They’re afraid they won’t be understood.” However, he notes foreign students quickly become comfortable and are gratified and gain confidence from the support they get from teachers and classmates.
Samantha Batliner arrived at UBC’s Okanagan campus from Panjachel, Guatemala, with an English-language high-school academy background and found herself quickly immersed in university life thanks to the Jump Start orientation program (see sidebar on next page).
She found one key difference: there are no second chances in paper-writing.
“If we turned in a paper at the academy back home, the teachers would give it back to us if they thought we could do better,” says Batliner. “At university,? you don’t have that opportunity. ?Your first effort has to be your best.” ?The 18-year-old says it was also a transition going from being a mentor in a K-12 school to being among the youngest on campus at UBC. Now as ?a volunteer with Jump Start, Batliner has had the opportunity to guide newcomers and serve as a role model.
Her new cultural quest: finding her favourite ethnic food in the Okanagan.
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Finding one’s feet ?on foreign soil
More than 100 international and ?out-of-province students got a crash course in living and learning in the stunning beauty of the Okanagan region through the Jump Start and Kick Start orientation programs at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
Now in its fourth year at this campus, Jump Start is an intense, six-day orientation program. It includes on-campus accommodation and plenty of one-on-one mentoring with returning international student volunteers like Samantha Batliner from Guatemala.
From university English writing sessions, to setting up bank accounts and getting a cell phone, the program staff and volunteers provide academic and relocation support, social and cultural workshops and hands-on experiences—including off-campus day trips to Okanagan Lake and the Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede. This year, 72 international students and a dozen volunteers participated in Jump Start.
“Jump Start has proven itself as an orientation tool for international students to find their feet early,” says Teresa Flanagan, manager of International Programs and Services, which organizes Jump Start. “It sets the stage to create academic success at a higher level.”
Designed for out-of-province students, the Kick Start program debuted this year with 30 students from across Canada— from the North West Territories to New Brunswick.
“Kick Start was developed because we know that students are more successful in university when they feel a sense of belonging to their new campus and surrounding community,” says Michelle Lowton, Associate Director of Student Development and Advising.