First week in Montréal and how I found my Support Network

Date
September 28, 2020

One of the assumptions why some students resist to pursue international studies abroad is the fact of leaving behind their long-term support network. That was my second biggest fear while embarking on a plane to come to Montréal (language barriers was the first one).

How would I achieve my personal and professional goals without the people that push me forward during my entire life? Without my family members, friends, and teachers, how am I going to develop myself?

This fear disappeared quicker than I thought. I knew that building connections with people was an essential part of adaptation, so let me share with you some situations that allowed me to put this hesitation away and live the amazing international experience Montréal has to offer.

Professional support to enhance campus sociability

Before the actual beginning of classes, we had an orientation week. Each day, we participated in a workshop with the campus staff, which by the way included many more academic’s support employees than professors. From the academic advisor to student financial services, we got into the social workers workshop. Trust me, the chances of quitting that workshop without feeling comfortable to look for those professionals for small or big issues, were zero, even if you are an introvert student.

My first private online chat with one of the social workers, was right after my first classes. As the only South American student in the class, I felt like I needed to share my impressions with someone. Therefore, I spoke to one of them about my colleague’s behaviors and about a few technical problems we faced during the classes. The professional gave me some responsible and practical advices, but most caring, she took the initiative of talking to the professors about the issues we had and kindly show them how to avoid it. She assumed the responsibility and solved my problem; it was significant, and I know now that I can count on her through all the course.

Empathy in the workplace

Working as an international student in Montréal means that most of the weeks you will have 20 hours to build connections at work. Keep in mind that Montréal is a very multicultural place, and the more you share about yourself, higher will be the chances of finding people that can relate to your history. Those people will be interested in seeing you succeed as they did.

Since day one, I told the supervisors the reason that brought me to Montréal, and although I had a lot of enthusiasm to speak English and French at the workplace for the first time, I let them know that I still had some insecurities. My coworkers laid aside all the differences between us, including age gaps. They made their best to understand me and showed me patience while I was adapting my ears to their bilingualism world.

Language exchanges opportunities

Do you remember my concerns related to “language barriers”? Through a language exchange mobile application, I met a Montréaler and since then we have been teaching each other our mother tongue.

From this experience, I don’t only have the advantage of upgrading my French skills for free, but most of all, I found a local to check some questions we may have once in a while, when living in a new place.

By the end of our first month of chats, she took me to a trip to Québec City. Let be honest, is there a nicer way to travel than with your own local guide?

These were the moments that marked the start of my international studies in Montréal. I feel more welcome than I ever imagined and I know more great moments will come.