Wednesday, May 12, 2010

International Student overcomes everyday obstacles

By Tali Ashkenazi, International Student, Criminology

Last week, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was asked to give a speech at a scholarship ceremony. The Douglas College Foundation was giving out scholarships for domestic students who had studied abroad, and for international students who had shown great academic success.

I was one of the international students receiving a scholarship. So, with shaking hands and a dry mouth I made my way to the podium, and tried to explain in a minute-and-a-half what I have been dealing with in the last two years.

I could have said many things, but I chose to focus on the difficulties that arise on an everyday basis for an international student – things that might not seem like difficulties at all to someone who was born here. Opening a bank account, using public transportation, getting used to new food and weather - all of these are difficulties when you are new to the country, and especially when you have to do them in your second language. Then there are the even tougher things like finding friends and a job, and actually maintaining good grades in the studies that are always present in the life of an international student.

Starting college at 25, I knew I had to do everything I could to do it well the first time. So I told myself that all these difficulties would not slow me down and prevent me from achieving my dream of getting a criminology degree. And they didn’t. In three weeks, I will be standing on the podium with the rest of my fellow Douglas graduates. I am only halfway to my degree, but I’m doing it, no matter what difficulties come my way.

Tali, originally from Israel, completed two years of university transfer Criminology at Douglas College this spring. On May 1, she received a $1,000 International Studies Award for maintaining a Grade Point Average of 3.50 or higher. She will continue her studies in Criminology at Simon Fraser University starting in 2011.