There are many first experiences when you travel and study in a foreign country. As an international student in Canada, Tolulope Olagunju had to learn about some of these the hard way.
Booking a flight with too many stopovers, dealing with immigration issues, facing tax troubles, fighting homesickness — it’s been one interesting ride.
The good news is the Master’s in Electronic Commerce at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada writes all about it in her blog so others get a heads-up on what’s in store for them. As this isn’t her first time as an international student — she studied computer science in the UK — the Lagos, Nigeria native has plenty of advice to dish for newbies.
We caught up with her over email to chat about her blog, what’s it like studying in Canada’s lobster-loving province and her plans for the future.
Tell us about yourself. Why did you choose to study abroad?
I run a lifestyle blog, Unravel with Tolu that helps international students especially in Canada on how to navigate through their new life.
I would not say I chose to study abroad, my parents chose it for me. I think it is every parent’s’ dream is to provide their children with the best education and my case is no different. I did my undergraduate degree in the UK and it was such a great experience.
Upon moving back to Nigeria, I realised it was one of the best things that happened to me. So when I decided I wanted to get a master’s degree, I took control of the entire process and chose Canada.
I loved that studying abroad opened my eyes to a world of possibilities that did not exist in Nigeria including making friends with people from all over the world.
Why did you choose to study in Nova Scotia? What do you like most about studying here?
I chose Canada but I did not choose my city. I wanted an English speaking country that is pro-immigration for international students.
When I was looking for the programme of my choice, there were only two schools in Canada that offered the course I was looking for. I had the option of choosing the University of Ottawa or Dalhousie University. I chose the latter because I had a better chance of getting into the program.
I like that my experience as an international student in Canada is very different from what I experienced in England. I love that I get to chose courses outside of the Faculty of Computer Science as it allows me to discover new interests.
Also, I love Canada because I get to meet and socialise with people from various parts of the world. I always joke and say I have friends from every continent except Australia.
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The most common mistake a lot of people make when it comes to university application is choosing a school or program where they don’t meet all the requirements. For instance, if you want to apply for the Master’s of Finance program, some universities may require that you need to have work experience, GMAT or CFA level 1 alongside other typical requirements (first degree, application fee, statement of purpose etc) before applying. The first thing is such a program is highly competitive and they are looking to pick people who meet the requirements. So if you are applying and don’t have work experience , your application might be rejected. So it is important to apply to schools where all the requirements are met to avoid application rejection. What other common university application mistakes do you know of ? #studentblogger #halifaxblogger #studyabroad #internationalstudents
What are you studying and why?
I am studying electronic commerce. I chose this program because my first degree is in computer science and the classes I enjoyed the most were classes with a mix of IT and business.
So it made perfect sense to go for what I enjoyed and specialise in it for my master’s.
Tell us about your most memorable time as an international student in Canada at Dalhousie University.
Making friends as an international student can be really hard, so one of my fondest memories is during the fresher’s week attending The Mayor’s Welcome Party for international students.
I met most of the people whom I am now good friends with here. Having friendships with all these people has shaped my experience at Dalhousie University.
What are your top recommendations or advice to others who are planning to study abroad in Canada?
Do your research on the schools you are considering, especially as an international student. Be sure the schools offer scholarships that can cover part or all your tuition. Also, apply for your study permit as soon as you get your admission letter.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan is to stay in Canada for a year or two after completing my program and possibly move to Australia for a few months. Career-wise, I would love to be a digital analyst.