Educational support services help student adjust to Canadian university life

As a student new to Canada, Syeda Fariha found it difficult to adjust to the differing expectations of her professors. She transferred to Windsor in fall 2011 after two years studying economics in her native Bangladesh.

“In the beginning, I had no friends and I was struggling with my studies,” she recalls. “I was frustrated and disappointed.”

However, Connecting4Success and other programs of the Educational Development Centre have helped her gain confidence.

“In my country, the teachers like you to use the hard vocabulary to show you understand the material,” says Fariha. “My first mid-term exams here, I was writing long answers with a lot of information, but I did not get good grades.”

She sought help from the Connecting4Success program run by Danielle Handsor, which matched her with a mentor.

“Danielle helped me connect with other people and with the other support programs here at the university,” says Fariha. “I found the resources that the university provides for helpless students like me.”

She credits Laura Prada, a transition services intern in student development and support, with helping her improve her study skills and her ability to answer exam questions.

“Laura taught me to identify the difference between memorizing and understanding,” Fariha says. “She shared her experiences and showed me I was not alone.”

Prada says that transition support programs like Skills to Enhance Personal Success (STEPS) and the online Campus Lifeline can help international students cope with cultural differences.

“Fariha was having a hard time understanding her role as a student in Canada. For example, she was focusing on using complicated words rather than demonstrating her knowledge in a clear way,” says Prada. “We discussed the differences between being a university student here and in a developing country like Bangladesh or Colombia, where I come from.”

By explaining the expectations of her UWindsor professors, Prada helped Fariha to raise her grades.

“Now I know I can get my degree, thanks to the resources and the overall support from the university,” says Fariha. “I believe that I made the right decision to come here. I am a proud UWindsor undergraduate. I now love Windsor; I love Canada.”

And she is making friends through her involvement with the Womyn’s Centre, Volunteer International Student Assistance, and student clubs.

“I want to tell other students not to be disappointed when they struggle here at first,” she says. “At the University of Windsor, if you seek help, you will get help. Take one step forward, and trust me you will find a number of hands with you.”

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