Meet our international students: Maria-Princène Dagba, Benin
“The accessibility of the professors is what surprised me the most
at Saint Paul University.”
A student in Communications and Conflict Studies, Maria-Princène Dagba came to Canada about eight months ago. This 19-year-old woman from Benin, who had already visited Germany, has been struck by many aspects of North American life since her arrival. “Everything here is well organized and well run… when you want to take the bus, there is a schedule and the bus is rarely late. Unlike in Africa, the structures seem efficient for the people who use them.”
Maria-Princène loves Canadian culture and the fact that she can live her daily life using French. Still, she found adjusting to winter difficult, after arriving in Canada in February. “It was always cold. In my country, you can just take off some clothes when it is hot, but here, you always have to think about the temperature before you go anywhere… it’s not always easy to deal with winter.” But she says she loves the different seasons. “It is so different from Benin. Here, each season has its charms.” Like many international students, she also had to get used to the food in Canada. “It’s incredible to see all the products available in the supermarkets. I can even find foods from my home country at a good price,” she adds.
She loves the relationship she has with her fellow students and the professors, who are always available to meet with her. “In Africa, the professors have a certain status and it can be difficult to meet with them, but here, it’s the opposite. Sometimes they are the ones who initiate the discussion and invite you to come and talk to them.” Maria-Princène, who received a scholarship from her home country, believes that her studies in Communications and Conflict Management at Saint Paul University will prepare her well for a career in that field. “The root of conflict is poor communication. I think I will be able to apply many of the theories I have learned here to improve relations between the various stakeholders, especially in the case of conflicts with ethnic origins, for example.”
Maria-Princène dreams of an international career. “I would love to travel on behalf of my country’s diplomatic service. I think that is a very attainable goal,” she adds as she prepares to head out into the cold November wind.