Welcome to Saint-Paul University

Meet our international students

« People here are always ready to help me! »
Ruo-Han Chen, Taiwan
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.
Maria Princène
« The accessibility of the professors is what surprised me the most at Saint Paul University. »
Maria Princène Dagba, Benin
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.
« What strikes me most is how easy it is to make friends here. »
Pierre Colautti-Féré, France
Pierre Colautti-Féré has been a student in Conflict Studies since September 2014. The 21-year-old, who studied in the north of France before arriving in Canada, admits that it was fairly easy to make the adjustment. “Europe and Canada are alike in many ways. Since I had already travelled in various countries in Africa and South America, the shock was less than in other countries.” Since his arrival, however, Pierre has noticed some differences compared to France. “Especially the architecture… everything here is so young. Then there’s the language… French is closely modelled on English, so there are some funny expressions at times.” Being so close to nature is also unusual, in his opinion. “You don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometres to find yourself in nature – that is another thing I have noticed.” His biggest fear is the approaching winter. “We’ll see how it goes,” he says, smiling. Another aspect of the Saint Paul University culture that he has observed is how friendly people are. “In France, unlike in Canada, people are more individualistic… here, you can make friends and acquaintances quickly,” says Pierre, who is originally from Grenoble.

Pierre chose the Conflict Studies program at Saint Paul University after talking to one of his Political Science professors in France. “My professor knew a professor at Saint Paul University, so he suggested that I continue my studies here through an inter-university program.” He admits that his field of study is unique, but that’s why he’s passionate about it. “People talk about conflict in sociology, or in political science, but it’s always based on an approach that is typical of a particular field of study. Here, we see all facets of conflict… that’s what makes the concentration so interesting.” Pierre hopes that his studies will allow him to find a job at the international level.

When asked about his dream, Pierre shrugs his shoulders. “I haven’t thought about it much, but travelling and pursuing my quest for knowledge seem to be my short-term goals. I’m sure time will tell,” he says.
Père Cryton
« I feel at home at Saint Paul University. »
Père Cryton Outschoom, Sri Lanka
Fr. Cryton Outschoom arrived in Canada from Sri Lanka just a few days before the Fall 2014 semester started. The Catholic priest had to dive into a new world as soon as his classes started. “Saint Paul University has a very good reputation for the quality of its courses, especially in Canon Law. I am in Conflict Studies, and every day I am reminded that the University is a very friendly place,” he says. He admits that he didn’t find it very hard to adjust, although he has noticed many differences when it comes to interpersonal relationships. “Here, people are very professional, very reserved in their relationships with others. In Sri Lanka, people will approach a priest at any time, without an appointment, and start talking to you about their spiritual problems. It’s a big change,” he says. Rather than being wary of the snow, Fr. Outschoom is looking forward to living through his first winter in a northern country. “There’s no point in worrying too much about the weather… after all, it’s the people that count.”

Sri Lanka, which was torn apart by civil war for many years, is now on the path towards peace. Fr. Outschoom believes that his master’s studies in Conflict Resolution will prepare him even more to build bridges among the victims of war in a country that has seen a reduction in violence since 2009. “As a Catholic priest, it is my duty to ensure that each and every person plays an important part in the reconciliation process. I sincerely believe that the theories I am learning in my courses will be very useful in promoting dialogue among victims.” Unlike many students, He says that he is not studying in order to find a job, but to further his education. “I have already chosen my career. Coming to Canada is a gift that will allow me to be even better in my role as a spiritual guide.”

His dream? To help to heal the wounds caused by war in his country, he says without hesitation. “Many people have suffered because of the war, but there is a firm commitment to peace. I just want to do my part so that people who have experienced violence can find a certain peace within them once again,” Fr. Outschoom says enthusiastically.
Frère Grégoire
« I achieved my dream by coming to study in Canada, at Saint Paul University. »
Frère Grégoire , Vietnam
After arriving in Canada from Vietnam two years ago, Brother Grégoire first went to improve his French in Rougemont, Québec, before registering in the master’s program in Systematic and Historical Theology at Saint Paul University in Fall 2014. A member of the Cistercian Order, Brother Grégoire says he has been lucky to have the opportunity to come and study at Saint Paul University. “I always wanted to know how North Americans viewed the Catholic religion and how they expressed in their daily life… I now understand that there are different ways of seeing the message of Christ.”

Brother Grégoire, who lives as a member of the Congregation of the Holy Family in a village in North Vietnam about 100 km from the capital, Hanoi, has not found it difficult to adapt to Canadian culture. “In Vietnam, people think that North Americans are cold and distant. I was surprised to find the opposite! Everyone I have met has been warm and friendly.” Not long after he arrived in Canada, Brother Grégoire experienced a moment of perfect happiness when he saw snow for the first time. “Seeing all that snow falling was a magical moment for me. I was so amazed, I even went outside to make a snowman. There is no snow in Vietnam, not even in the mountains. What a wonderful experience!”Brother Grégoire says that his biggest challenge was… getting used to the local cuisine. “I’ve actually gotten to like it,” he says with a laugh.

A devout Catholic in a country that has embraced communism, Brother Grégoire admits that those who wish to practise their religion freely face many challenges. “The government is open when it comes to the practice of religion, but there is still some resistance among the people. Not everyone is aware of our freedom to live our faith,” he says, remaining convinced of the value of his mission.

When he returns to Vietnam, Brother Grégoire’s task will be to share what he has learned with other monks in his community. “My area of study is quite specialized, but I’m looking forward to sharing with others what I have learned here during my stay,” he says with a smile.
Lia Patricia
« The courses I’ve taken have been fantastic! »
Lia Patricia Hiraldo Antigua, Dominican Republic
When Lia Patricia received a bursary from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) to pursue her bachelor’s degree at Saint Paul University (SPU), it was a dream come true. “I’ve always wanted to come and study in Canada!”

She arrived at SPU in fall 2015 and registered in the Social Communication program. “I was studying communications in my home country, so it was great to be able to continue in my field here in Canada.”

The transition to her new environment was definitely helped by how easily she made friends. “I live in residence, so all I had to do was go down to the kitchen! Right away I met other students, and we quickly became friends.”

The best thing about SPU? Her courses! “The courses I’ve taken have been fantastic. For instance, I’m taking Sound and Radio Production, and I actually got a radio system to work. It was great!”

After she graduates, Lia Patricia would like to work in public relations. She intends to apply for another bursary so she can complete her studies at SPU. “I love this country. I’m having a wonderful time, and when I tell my friends about it they all want to move here!”

She plans to take full advantage of her Canadian experience by visiting some major locations, including Montreal, Niagara Falls and Quebec, and exploring the National Capital Region. “My first week here, I visited the Parliament Buildings. They’re so gorgeous! I’m also really impressed by the beauty of nature here.” She enjoyed admiring Canada’s fall colours for the first time, and says she’s looking forward to experiencing the cold winter she’s heard so much about!