Life as an “international student” in high school


  Bill @Bell High School


“I came to Ottawa to study in order to improve my English, but most importantly to learn how different people and cultures in the world think.”

- Bill, international student from China


Bill is in Grade 11 and has been an international student at Bell High School since Grade 9. He comes from the city of Jiamusi in northeastern China where the winter weather is similar to the climate in Ottawa. Some challenges when first arriving in Canada included language, food choices, and culture shock because “the way people think is different in Canada.” One of the important reasons for choosing Ottawa for school is that the city is peaceful, multicultural, and it has all the advantages of being the capital of Canada. He has made lots of friends at Bell High School and finds all the students and teachers very kind and supportive. He likes that he has choice in selecting his course options and is impressed by the wide number of courses available. Bill is very involved as a volunteer and thinks it is really important for international students to join in extra-curricular activities, and he aims to participate in the Student Council at Bell next year. He anticipates post-secondary studies in engineering or programming

 Sophie @John McCrae Secondary School


“I really like the semester system because I only have four different courses at one time.”

- Sophie, international student from Turkey 


Grade 9 international student Sophie is from the southern Mediterranean city of Antalya, Turkey. Sophie was inspired to come to study in Canada after she read a newspaper story when she was in Grade 6 about a Turkish student who went to study in British Columbia. She has previously studied in Montreal during a summer program. She already speaks several languages fluently and one of the reasons Sophie has come to Ottawa is to improve her English language skills. Upon reflecting about Canadian culture, Sophie is surprised at how multicultural Canada is, as well being impressed that Canada seems to have a relaxed lifestyle. She finds the school system in Ottawa very different, and appreciates the extra help, understanding and friendliness of her new teachers, as well as liking the interactive teaching approaches and the semester system with only four different courses at one time. In her free time she has participated in the Multicultural Club at school and she volunteers at a local Turkish school assisting young children.

  Michelangelo @Bell High School


“Being an international student makes you stronger; you become a better person.”

- Michelangelo, international student from Italy


From northern Italy, Michelangelo is in Grade 12 and has attended Bell HS as well as Sir Robert Borden HS. His decision to study in Canada was motivated by his love of ice hockey, and his interest in hockey prompted him to become proficient in English. He is not only interested in watching hockey, but also played on the hockey team while at Sir Robert Borden last semester. Believing it’s important to get involved, he also played as a goalie on the soccer team. Michelangelo is impressed by the excellent school facilities in Ottawa. He acknowledges that it is sometimes difficult to cope with a different country, a new school system, and living in homestay at first, but once these challenges are faced and overcome, then a student develops and changes to be more independent, and in his words: “It makes you stronger; you become a better person.” He has enjoyed the opportunity to make lots of Canadian friends and views his experience in Canada as an amazing opportunity.


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