Studying in a foreign country far away from home can feel daunting. Chinese national Yifan Wang had to take a 12-hour flight to reach Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Like other students before her, initial worries and exhaustion quickly melted away from the moment she set foot on campus. “My first day was awesome,” she says.
Friendly and supportive professors and peers helped her ease into university life. “I could clearly remember that moment when I first walked into the residence hall. A bunch of students saw me with my luggage and just enthusiastically shouted: ‘Welcome to Howe Hall!’” shares Wang.
Such is the infectious warmth of Dalhousie University’s community life that she found time quickly flying by before she knew it. In the first month, she could understand the course materials thanks to the detailed explanation by her professors. Later during her first year, homesickness hit her rather hard, but her new friends – both local and international – offered great help. She managed to overcome this challenge in no time.
A diverse campus
Indeed, Dalhousie University takes its mission of creating a welcoming environment for their international students seriously. Besides offering essential information on visa and study permits as well as relevant immigration details, their International Centres ensure nearly 4,000 students from over 115 countries can easily access the academic support services at any time they need to.
The Writing Centre is another value-added service that all Dalhousie University students can use when they struggle with writing. “I received help in my essay-writing – they inspired me a lot and my essays turned out to be amazing with very interesting topics,” Wang recalls.
Dalhousie University takes pride in its diverse and inclusive culture, as evidenced by their Indigenous Student Centre, Black Student Advising Centre and Student Accessibility Centre. It aims for all students to feel welcome, valued and safe, which is why these centres not only cater to specific communities but also ensure students feel included regardless of their backgrounds.
Life in Halifax
Dalhousie University’s campus life is vibrant. It is home to 11 residence halls (most offering 24/7 front-desk support) as well as a wide variety of clubs and societies. By joining activities such as the hamster ball game, and the Toastmasters Speech Club, Wang has come out from her shy shell and honed her networking skills.
“I felt awkward chatting with strangers at the beginning, but I gradually started conversations with strangers about mutual interests, and it became natural to me. I was scared by public speaking too, but when I did my first prepared speech and table topics, everyone in the club told me how good the speech was, which built up my confidence,” enthuses Wang.
Hands-on experience and research excellence
Dalhousie University’s extensive suite of courses – over 4,000, the largest selection in Atlantic Canada – appealed to Wang too. With over 200 programmes across 13 academic faculties, the possibilities to tailor one’s studies are seemingly endless. Wang opted for the Bachelor of Computer Science because of the “numerous course options”.
Another major perk for Dalhousie University students? Hands-on learning. Every programme at this university lets one apply classroom knowledge to real-life work situations through experiential learning including co-ops (paid work experiences), internships, practicums, research projects and volunteering activities. On top of that, students can expect to learn from award-winning professors who are active researchers working on some of the most urgent issues in sustainability.
“A lot of professors care about students very much – they encourage students to learn and stay curious. Students get inspired from them,” says Wang, adding that her favourite class is the intro to programming (CSCI1110), because of the challenging assignments given by her professor which enabled her to build a solid foundation.
Little wonder that Dalhousie University has garnered several impressive rankings — the most recent being a five stars overall QS rating. It scored five stars for the Core Criteria of Teaching, Employability, Research and Internationalisation.
That’s not all. Dalhousie University is a veritable research powerhouse with 56 Canada Research Chairs, a groundbreaking Ocean Tracking Network project that spans seven continents, 194 million Canadian dollars awarded annually in external research grants and awards, and more.
With such features, it is easy to see why Wang’s time at Dalhousie University has opened the door to opportunities. She’s now a software engineer in site reliability within the cloud department at Google — her dream role.
Getting hired at Google was a complex and long process — entirely impossible had it not been for Dalhousie’s computer science courses, co-op placements and support from peers, professors, and friends, according to Wang. “I had to make sure my resume was impressive,” she explains. “So, I created a personal website that included my computer science projects and uploaded demo videos on YouTube.”
You can be the next success story as well – click here to find out how Dalhousie University can meet your future goals.