Since the beginning of the Fall semester many things have changed. First of all, I have gotten used to my house and my duties, and now I have a daily routine. Streets and houses are beginning to feel familiar, the same for my office and the science building. Also, very basic information that I did not know before, and I needed to ask for assistance with, are now usual; like whom I need to ask to book a room for a meeting, or how to use doodle to organize it. Also, simple things like remembering the code for opening a lab door, are now familiar and second nature.

This Winter semester I am doing two teaching assistantships again and I find it very useful. I was a bit scared in the beginning of the unknown and if I would be able to understand what students are saying or asking. At times I still have some trouble understanding some words, but it is getting better. It is nice to review old concepts that I studied at the beginning of my undergraduate studies; and I think it helps improve my abilities in explaining concepts in English. I am also trying to participate in conferences or symposiums to practice presenting in English as well. I find all of these oral presentations are a great way to practice public speaking, to reduce my anxiety, and to become more confident in my language skills. I think that the more difficult part for me, as an international student, is to understand questions in a language, and more an accent, that is not my own. I found that practice is the only way to get better at this.

My mentor program has finished, but it left me a great gift; my mentor is still present in my life as a friend. Unfortunately other friends have already finished their studies and have left. I don’t think I will ever get used to this, as it is very sad to see a friend depart. Each of us started our studies in different semesters or are in different programs. Even some students that started with me in the Fall semester have already finished their period of study here and have also left.

On a happier note, one thing that I find exciting is that there is always something new to discover on the campus. For example, I was not aware of a very useful opportunity at the Commons, which I only discovered some weeks ago. You can ask for one on one tutoring and receive tips, suggestions and solutions to any software problems you might be experiencing, for example, with Microsoft Access. I think this is a very helpful opportunity for many students. Another example, which I find relaxing and non-academic, is the opportunity to pot a plant on Thursdays. They call this “horticultural therapy” and it is organized by the student wellness and counseling centre. It represents for me, a brief pause in which I can forget everything. It takes only a short amount of time, but it’s very relaxing and you leave with a nice plant. I miss my garden at home, but now I have my little set of herbs aligned on the window. I like to see them grow.

I found my experience here at Memorial really amazing so far. I have a great and very helpful supervisor and co-supervisor group and I am sure there will be so many other things I will learn and discover here.

Until next time…