Top 3 Reasons to Love Kingston

By: Roberta Santos Souza Dias

Kingston is a city in the South East of Ontario. The city is vibrant and has a lot of energy, outdoor life-style and a lively day and night spirit embraced by the university students. The city also has a lot of history and it is a military community. The city offers a variety of green spaces, great restaurants, open markets, nature trails and facilities that suit all ages. It is quite common to see people running, cycling and being active throughout the streets and parks.

What I love about Kingston:

  1. Green spaces

IMG_0709v2Along the Lake Ontario waterfront or one of the many bays you can easily find a quiet and relaxing spot to read your book, have a picnic, do some exercise or just appreciate the scenic view. The summer memories are endless in Kingston.

  1. Transportation

bike-laneTo get around Kingston you have many healthy options that are encouraged by the City: walking, cycling, or by public bus. The bike lanes are safe and lead you to scenic view along the waterfront and across the city. Kingston citizens are very respectful and polite. You will be amused to see how cycling is not about how old you are, but how you can be more active!

Queenʼs students have a free pass to the public bus system which makes student’s life quite easy and enjoyable. You will find a lot of other students that share the “journey” with you.

  1. Food and restaurants

10483856_762040697168337_47879128368790994_nThe City of Kingston has a fantastic culinary scene in downtown with a very large selection of great restaurants. Whether you want Italian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, BBQ, or a simple burger, Kingston has it all.

The Market Square located in downtown is home to an excellent Farmer’s Market during the spring and summer months. Here  you can buy fresh vegetables and fruits grown at the local farms, as well as delicious maple syrup and beautiful handmade crafts. In the winter, the Market Square becomes an outdoor skating rink among other activities year round.

Kingston is a safe and fantastic place to come to study and live, with a high quality of life and lots to do.

Socio-Cultural Fun with Alicia

Hi! My name is Alicia and I am a fourth year Psychology student at Queen`s University. I have been a socio-cultural monitor at Queen’s School of English for almost one year. cookiesI am part of QSoE’s socio-cultural team.  Our job is to create opportunities for students to have fun together outside of the classroom. As a monitor, I have a lot of different responsibilities. One of them is facilitating discussion classes. During discussion class, students discuss different topics. I like facilitating discussion classes because it helps students to practice their spoken English in a more casual setting. We even play games sometimes! I also lead activities with the students, like sports or card games. Cooking and baking activities are my favourite because we all eat, dance and talk — almost like a party! Often we go on weekend trips to places like Toronto and Montreal. When we go on trips, it is my responsibility to make sure students are safe and having a good time. My favourite trip is when we go to Canada’s Wonderland. Canada’s Wonderland is a big amusement park with games, rollercoasters, and a water park. wonderlandOutside of my responsibilities, most of my time as a monitor is spent having a good time with the students – we always have the funniest and silliest conversations. I enjoy helping students in any way that I can. I really love my job because I get to make friends with people from all over the world. Learn more about our socio-cultural program and check out our activities calendar:

QSoE Students Visit Central Public School

Students in our Canadian English Experience (CEE) Program visited the Central Public School to share their international experiences with the young students in Kingston. We thank the Central Public School for helping our students to get more involved with the local community. It was an exciting opportunity for our students to teach about their cultures and to learn about the Canadian culture. Below are some photos and stories from a few students:

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Saki and Kosuke

We spent a very happy time with Central Public School, Grade 5/6 students, Christopher and Huw.  They listened and answered my poor English and I was glad.  They have their own ideas, beliefs, and opinions about themselves and others which I admired very much.  We wish their dreams will come true one day!

Riona and Erina

We interviewed Claire and Hannah last week. We enjoyed talking to them. And they told us a lot of things such as their future dreams, favourite sports, favourite subjects, and about Kingston. They recommended places to eat, watch movies, etc. while in Kingston.  It was a great time for us. We hope they are interested in Japan and will come to visit us one day.

Walking Through a Rainbow Bridge

By: Jill Xu

I am a current Queen’s MBA student from China. I am also a mother of a 20-month-old girl. It is the first time for me to live in another country and I plan to work in Canada after graduation. This is my Canadian dream—I hope my daughter could grow up in Canada and I want to be a mother of whom my daughter could be proud. It’s easier said than done. Before I came here, I was really worried about the intensive courses of the MBA program because I have been out of school for so many years and I seldomly spoke English.

Can I adapt to the new life? Can I communicate well with new classmates from different countries? Can I catch up with the lessons?

When I was frustrated, the Pre-MBA QBridge Program came into my sight. This two-month program with small classes and experiential learning were attractive for me. Two months prior to the MBA program, which starts in January, I came to Queen’s to begin the Pre-MBA QBridge program at Queen’s School of English.

If you ask me to describe the program, I would say it’s my rainbow bridge.

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For the first several days, I dared to talk to anyone. I was nervous when I went to the grocery store because I was not sure whether I could understand what the tellers were saying. In China, we usually buy live fish for cooking, but when I came here I never went to buy live fish because I had to talk to the sellers. Making a phone call was even more difficult. I made no phone calls in the first several weeks.

I have to say that the QBridge program saved me. Everyday during the morning sessions, we spent half an hour reading the Globe and Mail newspaper. Our writing teacher, Susan, explained some political, economic and cultural news to us.  Sometimes we watched videos from TED Talks. The knowledge I gained from the newspapers and videos has proven to be very useful in my latter MBA program. Now if I want to start a conversation with teachers or classmates, I have many topics to talk about: the revenue-split policy of Harper’s government, the slumping oil prices and traditional Canadian food. In some of the MBA courses, professors often assign some reading materials or videos from Globe and Mail or TED Talks. The reading and listening in QBridge was a good start for me.

During the QBridge program, we had an experiential learning once a week. We had a conversation with a local business owner, a portfolio manager and a customer manager at Scotiabank. We also joined the Christmas party of Chamber of Commerce, the established meeting of disability organization in Kingston, and the ceremony for the Memorial Day. During this process, we had a chance to better understand the culture and the business world of Canada, and to learn communication and networking skills that are essential for MBA students.

In the last week of the program, teachers and students brought food of their own countries and enjoyed an international potluck lunch together.

For me, the Pre-MBA QBridge Program is not just a language program, but a warm-up program for my MBA.  I feel very lucky to have been enrolled in this program because when the MBA program started, I had no time to learn the language or to adapt to its fast pace, but only to work hard on all the papers, team projects and different assignments.

Today is the 100th day I have been at Queen’s. I like talking to my wonderful classmates from Canada, India, Africa and Brazil. I have made several complaint calls to my internet providers and I often go to grocery store and I buy live fish for cooking. Although it’s cold in Kingston now, I can still feel the warmth and colorful lights of the rainbow of the Pre-MBA QBridge Program. I’ve gone through the rain days and now I am walking to my dream.

Being a Homestay Host

By: Karen and Glen (Homestay Hosts for QSoE)

A number of years ago our oldest son was heading off to university, so we had an extra bedroom and a little space and time in our life.  We knew of other people who hosted international students.  Since I worked at the Limestone District School Board I made a call about having a student for a short time.  They checked us and placed a grade 6 boy from South Korea in our home.  That was the beginning of our 10-year adventure with students, male and female, from South Korea, China, Spain, France, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Quebec and Japan.

One of our earliest students, a 17-year old girl from China, worked very hard to be
accepted into Electrical and Computer Engineering program at one of the top universities in Canada.  She got a job with OPG, where she has been working for a few years now. We have kept in touch with her and were honoured to be at her wedding. We are now waiting to hear of the birth of her first child.  How quickly time goes by!

homestay blog pic 2 v2We have so many wonderful memories and are looking forward to making more. Currently, all three of our own children have flown the nest, so during the Fall term we had three students, two from Japan and one from China.  Each day we heard their English improving and their comfort with the language and our culture growing.

Over the years it has been such a pleasure to participate in the sharing of cultures and watching students come to understand the difference between the politics of a country and the person of a country.  They soon learn that political differences mean nothing when you are picking apples, shopping, or enjoying a meal together.

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Every day we feel fortunate to share our home with these amazing students.