To open doors to new horizons, we must close the old doors. Maybe we leave those doors behind. And sometimes, we leave them behind forever.

That’s the life of an international student. 

Coming to new environments, experiencing a new culture, trying new food, and experiencing a new lifestyle are always exciting; however, they are an emotional turmoil for an international student.

In this chapter of Far Away from Home, we’ll go through the life of Ramandeep. She is an international student at SAIT studying petroleum engineering technology.

Ramandeep got married in December of 2021, and she had to come to Canada for studies immediately after that.

Bidding goodbye to both her families (her own as well as in-laws) proved challenging for her, but handling these situations with grace and using their blessings as strength has made the transition delightful. Her hobbies consist of listening to music and exploring new places.


Ramandeep awaits the C-Train in Calgary. (Photo by Onyx Parmar/The Emery Weal)

Here is a glimpse of her daily life. Getting up early in the morning, doing household chores that include cooking lunch for self and then standing behind the yellow line to catch train towards college.

The announcements on the train platforms ring, saying, “The next Tuscany is arriving, please stand behind the yellow line,” which seems like a morning prayer.

The announcement, “The next station is SAIT / AUArts / Jubilee station. The doors normally open on the right,” feels like an answer to those prayers.

Rushing to class and absorbing knowledge in the field of petroleum technology is something unconventional for Ramandeep.

Having Lunch with classmates feels like a grand family get-together. The food she eats are subs and sometimes homemade authentic food, making the menu wide with variety.

Ramandeep sits and eats lunch on SAIT campus in Calgary. (Photo by Onyx Parmar/The Emery Weal)

The real struggle for Ramandeep starts after classes end. Heading towards her job at one of the Walmart’s in Calgary store is a task all on it’s own.

Ramandeep counts her inventory before setting them in the fruits and vegetable section in a Walmart in Calgary. (Photo by Onyx Parmar/The Emery Weal)
Ramandeep places vegetables in the fruits and vegetable section in a Walmart in Calgary. (Photo by Onyx Parmar/The Emery Weal)

Talking to loved one’s while in transit recharges her soul to go through a tough day at work.

Her day ends after working hard arranging grocery, while keeping in mind that she would be dealing with the same veggies and groceries tomorrow as she make lunch for herself all over again…

Lessons while abroad

Being away from home teaches many virtues, life lessons, and challenges.

Integrity with self: Being true to yourself is important when you are by yourself in a foreign land. 

Nowise to wise: From getting tea to making morning breakfast for yourself. Life has changed a lot.

Thankfulness: We start to realize and acknowledge every small and big blessing that cross our path. Let it be a French vanilla from Tim Horton’s or some authentic food from your homeland.

Empathy: Being empathetic towards one another in this journey, as everyone has their own. Uplifting one another has been a major driving force in this phase of life 

Responsibility: Balancing time to communicate with relatives and family back in home country while taking into consideration their time zones is a challenging job. We are responsible in keeping the flow of communication going. 

Never giving up: There comes a time when giving up seems the easiest and most viable way out; however, sharing your problems with your family and new friends who can relate with your situation can really do magic. Eventually, we learn the attribute of never giving up. Sometimes even waiting for transit is burdensome and tedious.

Acceptance: Accepting new realities is certainly heart wrenching. Not meeting or seeing your loved ones every day is challenging. Though, you can be in touch through electronic means, but physical presence is missed. This is especially true during festivals and birthdays.

Tolerance: Above all, creating tolerance for people who do not understand the situation is so important to survive in this dream kingdom. Empathy creates room for tolerance.

Independent: Being independent financially, emotionally, and mentally takes a lot of courage. Planning is important to understand one’s needs and can then act accordingly.

Optimistic mindset: Having that thin line between optimism and realism is important. Nurture yourself to being a better person everyday

Assertiveness: Whether it’s the first presentation at college, a job interview, or connecting with other colleagues, being assertive is more than important to survive.

Language barrier: English isn’t everyone’s first language. Hence, learning a new language while hearing a different accent is really frightening sometimes. But, overcoming all the fears is what life is all about!

That’s the life of an international student.

Onyx Parmar is a business student and a contributor for the Emery Weal. He is an avid photographer and multimedia creator.

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