Meet our international students

« Originally from Taiwan, Ruo-Han Chen studied translation before registering in Human Sciences at Saint Paul University. When she arrived in Canada in September, she was surprised by several aspects of North American society. “Here, people do everything they can to help each other, even when they hardly know each other. In my country, it is very different. People are harder to approach.” The large green spaces and the nearness of nature also struck her. “It is green everywhere… and very clean. There are a lot of cars, but not a lot of pollution. It’s so nice to be able to live in such an environment.” Ruo-Han admits, however, that she found it hard to communicate during the first few days after her arrival. “After a few weeks, it’s now much easier,” she says. She is happy to have adjusted to her new milieu.

Ruo-Han decided to register in Human Sciences after talking to a professor in Taiwan. “This program allows me to choose courses here and there, which helps me to learn more about Western society.” The 20-year-old likes the fact that she can also take courses at the University of Ottawa. “This allows me to vary my sources of learning,” she says with a smile. Ruo-Han admits that she did not choose Saint Paul University for a specific program, but to have an intercultural experience. Improving her English and learning how North Americans live are her real reasons for coming to Canada.

Still, Ruo-Han hopes to be able to use the knowledge gained at Saint Paul University in a job someday. “I would really like to work in procurement and purchasing for a company that specializes in clothing. I love fashion and I think that with my skills, I could find a job in that field.” When asked if she will remember her eight-month stay at Saint Paul University for a long time, she doesn’t hesitate. “Oh, yes!” she says with a sparkle in her eye. »
- Ruo-Han Chen, Taiwan
« 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. »
- Maria Princène Dagba, Benin
Maria Princène
« I come from Haiti and started studying at Saint Paul University in November 2016. Right away I noticed that every student is seen as a unique person here. It is fascinating to see how deeply the professors care about their work and make themselves available to students. I like to say that at Saint Paul University, everyone has their own little family, but when the time comes to rally for a common cause, every little family joins together to present a united front.” Personally, I feel I have my place here and that I matter in this university. »
- Abigail Synthia Oreste, Haiti
« As soon as I arrived from Nigeria, I realized that it is a big shock to leave your country to go and study in a country that is so different from mine. But at Saint Paul University, many people have made this shock more bearable. Thanks to the knowledge and tools they gave me, I was able to find my bearings in this new environment. The simple fact that people gave me tips to adapt to the Canadian reality and appreciate the four seasons really helped me to feel less overwhelmed by the challenges of adaptation. The University team does amazing work; every time I had a problem or raised a concern, they reassured me with positive words, which helped me to adapt and to move forward. The professors put themselves at the students’ level to guide them upwards, rather than leaving them to themselves, without support. This is a great strength of Saint Paul compared to other universities. »
- Michael Chukwudubem Oli, Nigeria