This international student studying in Canada is not only adapting to studying at a new university, but him and his family are learning how to live an entirely new life.
Ngosa Munganama is an international student studying at the University of Regina in Canada. His family arrived from Zambia, Africa in 2011. Ngosa shares a detailed and enlightening depiction of his new life in Canada, from seeing snow for the first time to his observations about Canadian society.
My name is Ngosa Munganama. On February 28, 2011, my father, little sister, and I landed at Pearson Airport in Toronto. Having traveled all the way from Zambia, Africa we were very fatigued, but so relieved to have actually arrived in Canada. Our journey was not over yet, we still needed to board a final plane scheduled to take us to the final destination, the city of Regina which is my mother’s residence. My mother had settled down in Regina as a registered nurse after coming to Canada a year earlier for greener pastures and wanted my little sister and me to continue life here.
Besides my mother, upon arrival at the Regina International Airport, we were received by a cluster of the Zambian Diaspora residing in Regina. Since it was our first time to be in Canada and better still, in a western civilization, we were so excited and were looking forward to discovering and getting to know the way of life in Canada. As we came out of the airport I could see patches of snow on the ground. I had always yearned to see snow and actually touch it and there it was, all around the parking lot.
The type of vehicles was unique, the structure of houses was different, and generally the way of life was different and unique. As we were being driven all the way from the airport to my mother’s home, I could tell that the environment we had entered was one we only spoke of, saw in the movies and idolized. To my expectation, like any average house in Canada, I found that the walls of my mother’s house and boundaries were wooden and not built from bricks or blocks, the main door had a door bell, the door knob was round and not curved, the sockets had a different design and voltage level, there was a fire alarm in place, the floors were furnished and comfortable, and the house was made up of three stories, unlike the common houses I am accustomed to back home that are merely composed of single stories.
I woke up the following morning thinking to myself, “am I actually in Canada right now?” I couldn’t believe that I was in Canada. It felt like I was dreaming. A dream that I used to think may never come true. I had always imagined experiencing a way of life that was significantly different from the one I already knew.
Of all the expectations I had about Canada, I did not think we would find a large population of the international civilization. For sure, Canada is a multi-racial nation. Not only is it interesting to be brushing shoulders with local people, but coming across fellow Africans and people of other various races is astonishing as well. Eventually I began to get used to the lifestyle in Regina and to appreciate it very much. It seemed to be well thought out and fairly planned out. Generally most people seemed to be very nice, helpful and morally upright in behavior. I came to learn that local Canadians are modest in nature. They usually smile once you glance at them and occasionally apologize and show gratitude, even when it is not necessary. In addition to that, upon entering a building, they usually hold the door for you when you are close to the entrance, which I found to be quite peculiar but selfless and comforting. I was impressed with the public transit system. It has been very systematically designed. The public busses have a planned schedule to follow while taxi-cabs can be accessed just by making the appropriate phone call.
As far as finances are concerned, life in Canada can be quite cumbersome for a foreigner. Even though this is the case, to a significant level, the economic system appears to be quite stable and goods and services are abundantly available and affordable, in contrast to the economy back home. Furthermore, public elementary education is offered free of charge both to residents and foreigners.
During summer, when the weather had completely changed and the temperature was very high, my mother, little sister, some family friends and me took a break to go to the Regina recreation Centre to have some fun and cool off. It was my first time being at the beach and I had just received my student visa. Going to the beach that summer was an opportunity to celebrate this glorious achievement. Receiving a student visa was not easy at all. I am on an F-1 visa. It was hard to obtain the student visa because to begin with, I had to confidentially answer to the immigration evaluation officer over the application of the student visa we applied for a while after arriving in Canada with no one’s help. This was difficult at the time because my father was the one who really knew the proper answers to the questions as he was the one in charge of handling the papers when coming to Canada and generally, the whole situation was tense. However, my mother later called him to clarify later on. Conclusively, from my observation applying for a visa is usually a tedious experience especially because it is such a lengthy procedure and any mistake in the application’s presentation can compromise the whole process. Just the thought of going to the beach was exhilarating. I felt so overjoyed once I dived into the “last mountain lake” to swim. I enjoyed the whole experience of being there.
Unlike the condition in developing countries, universities in Canada are able to enroll a large number of students, including international students. Though the experience in a post-secondary school has been time consuming and expensive, having an opportunity to learn at the University of Regina is a blessing on its own. Being in an atmosphere where you are conversant with local and international students is very enlightening. Walking in the corridors of the University and getting closer to realizing a dream career is overwhelming and gives me hope for what the future holds for an international student like me.
Ngosa is in the second semester of his first year in college. He is studying Business Administration with a plan to focus in human resources.
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