By Toby White
Every year, there are a few more smiling faces on campus and this year is no exception.
"This year we have 1,087 international students, compared to 896 last year," explained Dr. Gary Krivy, University of Calgary Registrar. "That’s an increase of 21 per cent."
The U of C prides itself on being an international university and there are several groups on campus dedicated to helping international students, including the International Centre and the International Student Centre.
"We have students from 80 different countries," said Glynn Hunter, Director of the ISC. "Mostly from Asia and the U.S."
In addition to the normal cohort of international students, this year the U of C has a special visitor. Simon Ajack, originally from Uganda, comes to U of C as a sponsored student from a refugee camp in Kenya. As a sponsored student, Simon’s costs are covered by the university and funds from a student levy.
"This is an incredible opportunity for students to learn from someone while helping them," said Natasha Dhillon, Students’ Union Vice-President Operations and Finance.
Prospective sponsored students are interviewed by World University Services Canada. Dhillon and the Refugee Student Board then face the task of choosing which student to sponsor.
There are many obstacles in the way of a new international student. Their first task, however, is to ensure they have the credentials to be accepted to the university.
"It’s a very difficult process," said Dr. Krivy. "We have two individuals in the Registrar’s office that spend their year evaluating foreign credentials."
Students also face problems upon arrival in Canada.
"Culture shock is definitely the biggest problem," explained Dhillon.
To help counter culture shock, the ISC runs a "Global Friends Program" that plans events for international and Canadian students.
International students also pay double the tuition in addition to immigration expenses, which can lead to many financial hardships.
All those interviewed agreed that international students bring as great a benefit to the campus as they receive from it.
"They give us a view of their way of life and their opinions and give us a completely different perspective on things," stated Krivy. "Too much homogeneity is boring."