International students at Hamilton District Christian High

Letters from International Students

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to leave the comfort of your home environment to embark on the adventure of living and studying abroad as an international student? Every year we are privileged to welcome students from various places of the world to the learning community at Hamilton District Christian High.

While living in a new environment and studying in a different school system can be fun and exciting, it can also be an incredibly challenging and difficult experience. Recently the students in one of the ESL classes at Hamilton District Christian High wrote a letter to their peers at HD to describe what it is like to be immersed in a new language and culture, far from the comforts of home.

See a couple of excerpts from those letters:

“My first language is Chinese, but teachers spoke English in class and they spoke so quickly, so I could not understand what they said. I felt so sad about my grades. I tried my best to work hard; however, it did not work. One time, I wanted to give up studying in Canada, but I knew it was my choice to go abroad to study. I told myself, “You have to work harder than before; you have to overcome many challenges and you will finally succeed.”

Anyway, I wish you could be a friend to me and chat with me about everything that you are interested in. I also want to make some Chinese food for you to try. Chinese food reminds me of my hometown.

Another big challenge for me is getting used to winter in Canada because in my hometown I had never seen that much heavy snow. I think I was lucky that I survived the winter last year. I have lived in Canada for one year. Everything has already changed. For example, before I was afraid to speak English with teachers or my classmates, but now I always talk to them in English and they help me improve my speaking skills.”

“I am the person in your class who sits beside you. I want to tell you what it is like to live in a new country, go to a different school, and learn all your subjects in your second language. Based on my experience, it is essential for you to be brave enough to talk to people in your second language even though sometimes the situations make you feel embarrassed because people may not understand what you say, or you cannot understand what they are saying.

Because English is my second language, I always need much more time to understand and digest the material that we learn in class. Sometimes, I even feel hopeless about my life because no matter how much effort I put in my learning, I still struggle with the barrier of language. In other words, I feel like I always stay at the same place in my learning and never move forward.

You cannot imagine how hard life is when you experience it by yourself; living in a new country without family and friends, feeling lonely and helpless, struggling with an unfamiliar culture and environment, and studying and communicating with people in a different language. I feel like I have to do that all by myself. However, thinking positively, studying abroad can also be a valuable experience and in some ways, I have become stronger. I have become more confident in speaking English with Canadian students and teachers.”

“I am happy with my grades because they have become higher and better than before. I didn’t give up studying hard, and I learned that success requires perseverance. Now I also can understand what teachers say in class. Studying in Canada is meaningful and I will remember it forever.”