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.