A small but dedicated group are the first intake of international students at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake. Four international students enrolled in the two-year Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program in September.
One morning, after writing an exam, three of the four students shared their experiences with the Tribune.
They’d been up late studying, and would be heading out to study for another exam the next day, they said.
All three arrived with some previous university studies. Upleen Kaur, from Punjab India, was studying biological sciences at Arizona State for one year and then in Toronto for two years.
Kaur heard about TRU from an international student friend who is studying at TRU in Kamloops.
Priya Nikhil is the married one in the group. She is from Kerala province in India and also heard about TRU from an international student friend.
She is a registered nurse in India and has attended university there.
“I did not plan to go to a particular university but was researching different universities and trying to see what would be better for me.
There were many consulting agencies that could help us get a visa for study purposes, so I was going through an agency and they told me TRU was a good university. And my friend in Kamloops also said it was good,” Nikhil explained.
Hailing from Manila, Philippines, Cyrille Soliman said she attended a TRU World seminar in March 2012 at her university back home.
“There were a few Bachelor of Science in Nursing students who were interested in taking nursing here and I was one of them. I am an RN back home,” Soliman said.
It’s a big adjustment coming from a city of 10 million people to Williams Lake, she added, and at first she could not find much to do.
English is a second language for all of the students, and they are fluent.
“We don’t find any difficulty,” Nikhil said.
Although sometimes their accents might be difficult for others to understand, Kaur added with a chuckle.
The students are living in home-stay situations close to the campus.
They admitted they miss ethnic foods, their parents, and “everything,” but one of the biggest adjustments has been the weather.
“We all come from places that have tropical weather,” said Nikhil. “We’re used to 30 to 40 degree temperatures.”
Their class has 15 students, which is making school “easier” said Soliman. “How they pace the students here helps too.”
Nikhil described the teachers as “nice and helpful” and the other students as “nice.”
A $5,000 grant received by each student in the first year is also a “big help” because as international students the fees are higher. The grant is paid out in two installments — one for each term, and is dependent on maintaining a C+ average or higher.
“It’s one of the reasons I moved here from Toronto because it makes it a lot easier financially,” Kaur said.
Kaur has a work permit and is employed part-time at the Husky and the Mohawk gas stations in town. One night she called up Nikhil to tell her someone from India was walking into the Husky.
“I’m from south India and haven’t found anyone from my state here yet,” Nikhil explained.
All three students are looking forward to their month-long practicums taking place during the month of December. They will have a practicum each term at care faciltities such as the Seniors Village.
“It should be fun,” Nikhil said.