Lakehead students (l to r) Ruixia Liang, LinLin Feng, and Chenhan Chu of China are preparing to complete their Business degrees at the Orillia campus.
Travelling across an ocean alone and leaving your family and friends behind sounds like quite an intimidating experience. For three Lakehead Orillia students, that experience was their reality, and fortunately, the big risk was worth the big reward.
“I was very excited to come to Canada to further my education. In the beginning, I did get a little homesick, but once I got involved in the Canadian lifestyle I began to enjoy it more and more,” says Chenhan Chu, one of three international students from China who study at Lakehead’s Orillia campus.
Chenhan, along with LinLin Feng and Ruixia Liang, came to Canada in 2012 to further their education in the English language. They first attended Columbia International College in Hamilton for two years to complete their high school diploma and prepare for post-secondary education. After graduation, all three decided that Lakehead Orillia was the university for them and joined the English Language Program taught by Dr. Jeff Hawkins, International Officer at the Orillia campus.
“The English Language Program is aimed at getting students’ proficiency in English up to a level where they feel comfortable and ready to begin their undergraduate studies,” explained Hawkins. “The students spend Monday to Friday together on campus, working on a variety of reading, writing and grammatical studies.”
Hawkins is extremely committed to the program, and, according to his students, is passionate about helping his students succeed.
“I love taking Jeff’s class. He takes total care of our academic needs and always encourages us to ask questions. We all feel comfortable talking to him and learning from him, as he never says no or turns us away when we need help,” said Feng when asked about her experience.
All three students are preparing to complete their Business degrees at Lakehead. When asked why they chose to attend Lakehead, they all agreed that they would not only receive a high-quality education here, but would also have a great community of people with whom to interact and practice their English. “Larger schools have very diverse populations, so it could be easy to fall into speaking our own language and not have as much opportunity to practice English,” said Chu.
After spending a few months here, the students have discovered some of the highlights of living in Orillia and studying at Lakehead. They all mentioned the rural environment, especially the beautiful fall scenery, as well as the cleanliness and environmentally-friendly feel of the campus. In addition to their studies, the three students have also enjoyed Lakehead’s extracurricular activities, their favourite so far being a trip to Treetop Trekking at Horseshoe Valley. And they all agreed the small size of the campus helped in creating a good community for them and has made them feel comfortable.
Chu, Feng, and Liang are all excelling in their studies, and can’t wait to start their undergraduate classes, hopefully in the New Year.
As the Orillia campus expands, the University expects the number of international students to continue to grow. In addition to Chu, Feng, and Liang of China, Lakehead Orillia is also home to students from Norway, Cayman Islands and Nigeria.
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Stephanie Edwards is a third year Lakehead University student (HBASc/Anthropology) who works with Lakehead Orillia’s Communications office.