At the begining of each year, Carleton international students receive a warm welcome at the Ottawa International Airport by the university’s International Student Services Office. This is the story of one student’s arrival.
By Ana Steinberg
Photos by Chris Roussakis
I landed at the Ottawa International Airport on Sept. 2, 2010 after spending the night in Chicago due to a delayed connection in Miami.
My journey to Carleton University began in Medellín, Colombia the day before. Three flights later I was finally arriving in the city I would call home. I was travelling with my mother, who planned to stay in Ottawa for a week as we attended International Student Orientation and I settled into residence and life in Canada.
Six years later, it is incredible to reflect on this experience as I speak with international students in Ottawa for the first time and greeted by the Airport Welcome Program organized by the International Student Services Office (ISSO).
The ISSO has been running the program every fall for more than 10 years, benefitting hundreds of incoming international students each year. The Intercultural Programs Coordinator at the ISSO, Maria Walt, co-ordinates this free program along with a team of dedicated staff who greet and provide help to students before they are driven to their new homes on campus and off.
“With the objective of meeting our new students and easing their transition, our welcome staff help students with answering all of their immediate concerns and finding temporary housing if they don’t have a place to stay,” says Walt, who hopes the program can expand its timeline in the future.
All of the students were eager to attend Orientation and meet their peers from different countries.
Carleton International Students Arrive from Around the World
Ruhaan Dev Tyagi, an undergraduate student majoring in Economics, said he chose Carleton because the campus looked great online and the university has a good reputation in India. Even after 20 hours of travel, he is enthusiastic about his goals to do well in his studies and get a job.
Travelling from Pakistan through Abu Dhabi and Toronto, Maria Akbar arrived 24 hours after leaving home.
“I feel really welcome because I don’t have to worry, it has eased me up.” said Akbar, who will study accounting and chose Carleton for the ability to get practical experience.
“In my country usually there is the accounting certificates, not the degree, so that’s why I came to Canada plus the practical experience.”
Akbar tells us that when she experiences snow for the first time she’ll first step out on it, and then call her mom. She’s not too worried though, “I’m a brave girl,” she declares.
Tolulope Akinbulire, a Systems and Computer Engineering graduate student, said he looked at several universities around the world but Carleton stood out.
“I was happy getting here and seeing you all there,’’ he said. “I got here and I saw the stand and it was, you know, it was nice.”
Rajarshi Bose is from India but he’s been living in Malaysia for about eight years. He came to Carleton to study Electrical Engineering.
“Location-wise it’s really good, easy to get to, the website is great, and I got great feedback about the school. I got a decent amount of scholarship, which was also an incentive, and then of course, co-op.”
This year the Airport Welcome Program ran from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4 from noon to 11:00 p.m. each day. Nearly 300 students were greeted.