Imagine that you’ve just arrived in a new country to attend college. Maybe it’s your first time away from home. Maybe you don’t know the language. Maybe you don’t know anyone. The hardest thing you’ll do now is navigate your way through the complex support system at your school.
That’s the biggest worry Georgian College international student Paulo Cardoso had when he arrived on campus last year. Cardoso is now a graduate of the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program and he’s just started the Business Marketing program at the Barrie Campus. He’s also working part-time as Vice President of Student Engagement with the Georgian College Students’ Association, and he credits his success to the support he received from the college’s International Centre.
“As an international student from Porto Alegre, Brazil, I asked a lot of questions when I first arrived because I was not always sure where to go to get information,” he says.
“The staff in the International Centre made me feel safe and more confident, which is why I am so involved in student life now. They are truly like my second family and they are always there to support me and help me integrate further into student life at Georgian.”
Experiences like the one Cardoso had are among the reasons why Georgian consistently receives high scores in the International Student Barometer (ISB) survey. The college is currently ranked number two among all Canadian colleges and universities and number three in the world. The ISB survey is the largest and most extensive survey of international students globally.
The college is continuing to build on its stellar reputation in international student satisfaction with the grand opening today of the Segal International Centre, which was built with a $400,000 donation from guard.me International Insurance.
guard.me President and founder Keith Segal said he is impressed by the initiative of international students and with this donation he wants to help them succeed.
“International students are very courageous to move to a new country and study in a language other than their native tongue. They are ambitious and want to build a better future for themselves through a well-rounded education,” says Segal.
“At guard.me, we want to help these students on their path to success and the support services they will receive in the International Centre play an important role in that.”
Leslie Palson, Dean of International Education and Development at Georgian, says the Segal International Centre will keep Georgian among the top schools for international student satisfaction.
“Our experienced, multi-lingual and culturally astute staff make Georgian’s international students feel at home, which is why the college is consistently ranked in the top three in international student satisfaction,” she says. “The creation of the Segal International Centre will help Georgian realize its commitment to an individualized student experience, as well as enhance the integration and engagement of our more than 1,100 international students.”
The Segal International Centre features dedicated access points for the EAP program and student recruitment and services such as housing, insurance and international student advising. There is also a multi-media screen, computer stations and lounge space for peer-to-peer interactions for both domestic and international students, orientation activities and important information sessions on visas and cross-cultural communication.
“Having everything our international students need to succeed in one place will strengthen our efforts to make them feel more at home,” says MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian. “This centre will help foster a sense of community, connectedness and collaboration, and will ensure they are fully immersed in Georgian life.”
International students enrich our community
Georgian international students not only provide a positive economic impact to the community, they also provide cultural diversity to the college and help internationalize the region. They bring the world to the college through their language, customs, food and more. Many are seeking a genuinely unique Canadian experience as classmates, volunteers, roommates and homestay guests.
International students also contribute to the local economy. It’s estimated that each international student spends approximately $11,000 in tuition and $3,000 in ancillary fees each year, and between $13,000 and $20,000 annually on accommodation, food, transportation, entertainment, personal expenses and insurance.