The Blind Side
by Danie Uthup, Cambrian College
Canada, one of the most favourite and fore-chosen educational destinations of most Indian students. One of the best countries in the world where we could find great people, who care and respect others from their heart. The picturesque and verdant landscape makes Canada the most perfect destination for them. But, it is much more important for every one of us to at least have a clear picture about what is going to happen as we reach Canada, as many things are hidden. Sometimes when these barriers pop up, the results can be disastrous.
As I landed in Canada for my school at Cambrian college, I was extremely glad to see newbies from my home country including my state, Kerala. A warm welcome from the college management made everything perfect. We all had a great time at the hotel. Things began to change as days passed. Everybody’s prime concern was regarding shelter, a basic need in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For some, it was easy to find a residence, but for others, it was terrible. From this moment, things became a little bit difficult. Many students, including me, had already planned for a place to live through students who were already studying at the college. However, some students didn’t have any idea where they were going to live. These students were primarily concerned with finding a shelter as soon as they reached Canada, and they experienced a terrible time for the first few days. Since shelter is a basic need for everyone, each student managed to find accommodations eventually. I appreciate and thank all of the students who were already members of the Cambrian family for assisting the new students in finding accommodations. Now, most students are concerned with finding work. As I write this piece in mid-February, 2018, only a handful of new students have found part-time jobs. The rest of us are still hunting.
Interestingly, for some students, only after arranging for accommodations and work could they focus on the primary reason for being here: academics. Expenses became a big concern for everyone, especially unexpected expenses. For example, some students who chose the millwright program experienced an acute “cardiac arrest” when they heard that they must spend another $1,800 for their equipment. Some students considered quitting the program, but they couldn’t, and so they stayed in the program. One of my classmates in the Personal Support Worker program failed to clear the pre-screening for placement, as she was unable to complete the vaccination checklist. Unfortunately, she had to drop the program. I really miss you Anna!
Prioritizing things plays a crucial role in one’s life. Ineffective prioritizing can lead to planning fallacies. Even though everyone didn’t experience the same difficulties, and even though the above scenarios happened for entirely different reasons, both have the same solution. In the case of the Millwright students, they obviously didn’t inquire fully into the program requirements, or didn’t solicit information from other students who completed the Millwright program. If they had, they would have known about the program costs and would have avoided the shock of additional expenses.
Whereas my dear friend who couldn’t meet the placement requirements can be considered as an exceptional case. Even though she inquired into the entire program details and received all of the information, she obviously lacked clarity. Nobody can blame either her or the college management for the aftermath. But for both the cases, the unwarranted situations could have been avoided if proper research was completed.
Here is an interesting thing: the students who worried about their part-time jobs more than academics faced the insane situation of spending $1800 for their extra academic expenses. This could be a result of an improper prioritization due to a planning fallacy. Even before arriving to Canada, they inquired about the availability of part-time jobs, not their academic requirements or shelter. They failed to prioritize their needs. This is not the first time students face these situations. This happens every time, like a cycle, without a clear resolution. This situation must be fixed, not only for Indian students, but for every international student who arrives in Canada. Let’s contemplate solutions to these misfortunes.
Students who arrive in Canada must conduct appropriate research prior to their arrival. This is incredibly important. The research should include everything they will need to do while in Canada, including academics, shelter, expenses, and co-curricular activities. Proper and effective research will help students avoid insane situations. If we conduct effective research, our decisions will be wise and practical. Our Utopian ideas may mislead us; even I was misled.
Finally, we all should have self-respect and self-belief. Even after all these insane experiences, all my friends and classmates survived because we all had great self-belief and self-respect. These attributes helped us to get through our hardships. They gave us the confidence and courage to face every situation with positivity. Writing this doesn’t mean that I was perfect and did all the research prior arriving to Canada. Yeah, I had done some, but I still had some Utopian beliefs. My thoughts weren’t that realistic. But now, it’s a new venture for me. I’m getting a much more realistic picture and thoughts about Canada, and I wish to share this to everyone whose dream is to be in Canada so that they may avoid these kinds of invisible barriers. So, everyone, understand the reality and see the blind side.