Saturday, 2 February 2013

Students will be students

Growing up in a country on the other side of this spinning ball that we call home, I never thought about other countries much. Sure, I've visited a few places, but my world was there. It was everything I knew, until I moved here. Other countries always seemed different to me, with different kinds of people who probably would not share the same mentality as me. So when I first arrived in Canada back in 2009 after getting accepted to University of Ottawa, to say I was nervous would be the understatement of the year.

I remember my first day at uOttawa. I was beyond scared. I will not deny it, it took me a long while to get used to here. I knew no one, and though I speak fluent English, I was still not accustomed to speaking it all the time and everywhere. Cultural differences prevailed of course, but my biggest fear was that I would not be as smart as everyone else, and that I will fail miserably while every one else will have 90-above grades. Whatever the teacher taught in the class, I thought I was the only one struggling with it. Truthfully, I was in despair. 

I had been in university for a year back at my country before enrolling in uOttawa. So subconsciously I was comparing both places, whether I wanted to or not. To me, school felt a tad bit more difficult here. Back over there, the pressure was less, so it felt slightly more relaxing, but here I struggled to keep pace. One funny thing that I distinctly remember was writing my first formal lab report. As my then-lab-partner-turned-now-awesome-friend would tell you if you ask her, it was, well, not formal at all (it was worse than that, now that I think about it, but let's not go there). Back home, all the reports I wrote at school was in my own language, and once I started university, more focus was put on the labs themselves rather than writing the report. So coming here, it was a new concept to me.

I should say that when it comes to socializing, I am an introvert. So it took me a while to come out of my shell. A long while, actually. But once I came out, I was pleasantly surprised. I always thought that everyone here was really studious, while I was the only one who spent major amounts of time doing something other than hitting the books (*cough* Facebook *cough*). I felt guilty whining about the load of assignment, thinking that everyone else was already halfway done, and doing so without any complaints.

Turned out I wasn't alone! As I got to know people more, I realized most of the students were actually not that different in mindset from me after all. They all struggled the way I did, they all  had problems going through questions, and they all felt school was sometimes too much.

I found kinship among them, finding solace in things that we disliked, discovering joy in the similarities we shared. Once I left my country, I was afraid of never finding people again who will be on the same page on me. But now I have found so many people with similar pages (so to speak), that I need an entire encyclopedia to hold them all together. My worst fear was that I would find the environment so different that I would not feel like belonging here. But I've been known to be wrong about a lot of things.

I started out writing this article based on an idea that my friend suggested, telling me to write about how different are the students here from back at home. I set forth thinking that I will be finding many contrasts. But while curriculum can vary between here and there, I can honestly say that students will be students, no matter where they are.

Oh, and now I write pretty good formal lab reports. I feel proud.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you, Baw. Students' will always be matter how old they (i.e., me)are. I, too, was scared out of my wits on the first day of my Master program. Now I feel different, and more confident. I, too, didn't know how to write formal academic papers, niether did I know how to analyze articles as they were never taught in my student years. It doesn't seem too difficult now. I wish I started earlier. It feels good to find a new 'you' in yourself.

    Best of luck, bachcha.