This 2018 Spring semester, we welcome back our 5 Galen eagles who decided to fly away from the nest for a while an experience foreign winter air for us Belizeans.
It was an ordinary spring semester when these 5 eagles (Leandra Betson, Renata Samuels, Everette Young, Barbara Martinez and Diana Castillo) were focusing on their classes for the new 2017 spring semester at Galen University. However, ‘ordinary’ can in no way describe what would take place next. Fast forward to mid to end of the semester, when little did they know that they were going to be chosen to spend the entire Fall semester at a university in Canada. For me, and maybe like most of you, I have never spent that long of a time and distance away from home so you might want to stick around and hear about their experience. If you have, then I’m sure this will also be a great read for you as you may be able to share some of their sentiments and enjoy the recollections from their semester.
If you would like to catch up on our check-in with the eagles whilst they were away you can read our previous article “Squawking with the Eagles”
Today, we have all 5 eagles chiming in on their experience of studying at a Canadian university.
What were your thoughts when you first landed? How did you feel?
Diana Castillo: Travelling has always been a passion of mine and when I first landed at Pearson Int. and walked on Canadian soil I felt that I had crossed an item off my bucket list. Words cannot fully explain how excited I felt about the new adventures that awaited me. It was truly a roller-coaster of emotions. I felt excited because for the next four months I would live in a new place and learn the different ways in which people live. I felt proud of how far I had gotten, sad that I would miss my family but overall I felt a childlike glee about how different everything was from the language, the people, the climate and so many other things that the list would go on and on. I was definitely not in Belize anymore.
Overall my time in Canada is one that I will cherish all my life. I made great friends, learnt so much and discovered yet another piece of the world. Though it took some adjusting to cultural and cuisine differences, I would never trade the experiences I had for anything in the world.
How about the academics: Any minor/major challenges or adjustments?
Everhett Young: The academics of UPEI was quite different from Galen. I got the opportunity to take Computer Science, sociology, and Math courses. I must admit that the size of these classes made the Experience quite different. For example, my sociology class had over a hundred students so there was quite a wide range of interaction. This proved to be significantly beneficial when I needed assistance in that class. Another main point was the technology in class. It was so amazing to see all the different technologies that our professors utilized from clickers to electronic writing tablets instead of whiteboards. I found these improvements in the classroom to be convenient and useful because it made the information available at any time. Academically, I did not find any major challenge but I enjoyed the experience of being in a new school for a semester.
Share one of your favorite memories while studying at the university.
Renata Samuels: My all-time favourite memory in Canada was when I helped to plan, organize and moderate an event entitled ‘Language, Curses, and Slurs at the University of Prince Edwards Island alongside two brilliant young ladies in the student diversity group. You can guess what the event was about. The name really gives it away. We examined language and words and how they have shifted their meaning through the ages. Words such as “nigga” “queer” “bitch” “punk” “freak” and “asshole” were tossed around and up for debate, on what they used to mean, to what they can mean given the area, people and situation they are said in. What made this event even more intriguing was, it was not just opened to the school, but also, the overall public so there were people of many different ages, sizes and backgrounds discussing how these words were used in their daily lives. What made this experience my favourite was to sit down and just be in a room with so many different educated people and hear their views on what words can mean and do mean for them. I sat in amazement listening to their stories about how they have seen how words can really affect others. Have you heard the little saying? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” That’s a downright lie. Words have been known to break and be the death of so many people. So no matter how educated we get we need to understand how powerful our words can be and will be to others around us. Little note: Be careful what you say.
*The power of your words are truly important to consider.
Share one of your major challenges while in Canada.
How would you rate your overall semester in Canada? Why?
Barbara Martinez: I would rate my overall experience in Canada as a 10. Let me tell you the truth, it was sad to see that I left my family in tears. However, I was more than pleased to be one of the individuals to be awarded the ELAP scholarship. I was so lucky to have been assigned three wonderful Canadian girls as my roommates. Canadians are inclusive individuals as they are willing to assist you in whatever, which makes it easier for international students to cope with the new environment. I had the pleasure to live with my roommates’ family during my last two weeks in Canada. During these two weeks, I had a great hospitality experience and there was not a day in which I did not feel at home. The family made sure I had the best Christmas Holiday away from home.
How likely are you to recommend this opportunity to other Galen Eagles?
Barbara continues: Without a doubt, I would totally recommend this opportunity to other Galen Eagles as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. As soon as I set foot on the beautiful island of Newfoundland and Labrador, I was feeling extremely excited and ready to face the new challenges coming my way by adapting myself to the new environment. I would describe those four months as self- enrichment, unforgettable and amazing. Coming from a developing country into a developed country, Canada is more sophisticated. Many things are done differently than what I am used to at home. The country encourages diversity and has two official languages which are English and French. My roommates and I used to always share our different customs and beliefs, whereby I would pay keen attention to grasp what may be wrong or right to do.
During the exchange meetings, I learned through the experiences of others that many international students find it difficult to interact with Canadians. Therefore, I believe that living with Canadians placed me at an advantage towards this experience. My everyday circle was mostly Canadians and being an international and exchange student facilitated my involvement with other international students from Asia, Europe, and Africa. It was an experience full of enrichment as I got to learn about different customs worldwide. Thus, I introduced my country to many individuals that were not aware that Belize existed, just as I got to know about other countries and their life experiences which made me become more grateful to be a Belizean. In conclusion, adjusting and getting involved was never a huge issue as I knew it was part of what I had to do to take the biggest portion towards a wonderful experience, which I recommend.
Well, there you have it! Be sure to give our eagles a warm welcome back when you see them and feel free to chat with them about their experience further.
Finally, I leave you with these two quotes that, hopefully, inspire you to continue to aim high, stand tall and soar!
“Don’t be a parrot in life, be an eagle. A parrot speaks but can’t fly high, but an eagle is silent and has the willpower to touch the sky.”
“All birds find shelter during a rain. But the eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds.”