My Break Week Trip

By: Yumi Kojio

During break week (February 22 to 26) I went to New York City. I would like to share details a1bout my trip. I travelled to New York City by bus. It took about 12 hours to get there. Luckily, I was able to go to NYC for a reasonable cost.

On my first day in NYC, I watched a Broadway musical: Finding Never Land. This was the third time I went to a musical performance. I was very impressed by the beautiful voices and powerful performances of the actors and actresses. If I go to NYC again, I would like to watch another show!

2The next day, I visited the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center. I climbed all of the way up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, the view was not very nice because of the rain. However, I still thought it was an enjoyable experience. After going to the Statue of Liberty, I went to see the memorial grounds at the World Trade Center. I was surprised to see how many Japanese people passed away in the 9/11 attacks; there were a lot more than I had expected.  When I learned about their deaths, I felt like I should try to learn more about historic world events.

3On my last day in NYC, I went to Central Park and ate some famous NYC foods. My favorite food from the trip was lobster. You should try it!

I am very grateful that I was able to travel to NYC! In Kington, it is easy to travel to wonderful places, such as Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec City, U.S. and so on. If you study English at QSoE, you will have the opportunity to visit all of these amazing cities!

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My story of studying in Canada as an international student (continued)

This is the continuation of Xiangtao Meng’s story of studying at Queen’s University as an international student. Read Part 1 to find out about his experience of learning English language for university preparation.

Part 2: The foundation

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. By Henry Thoreau 

After a transition during the summer, I started my journey at Queen’s. It was a journey into the woods, with picturesque scenery but also with marshes and brambles, appealing and challenging. Frosh week gave me my most favourite memories, from my first time attending a house party to playing with mud in the frosh Olympics; joining a club, socializing with other members, playing laser tag and eating frozen yogurt together on a cold night were also some high points. I was thrilled to find Queen’s to be so diverse in culture, which allowed me to sink into the Canadian culture as well as familiarize myself with other cultures by coming across with other exchange and international students.

In fact, it is these events and activities planned by those back room boys that were the best memories from my first year. I really appreciate the efforts which those back room boys contributed. Moreover, I appreciate the support from an engineering student and my philosophy TA.

Once after coming back from an event at residence orientation, I went for a walk along the lake and sat on a bench, reflecting on the experiences from that day with my new floor-mates and dreaming of my future Queen’s life. At the same time, I felt a little bit homesick because of not talking to my family for couple weeks. While I was sitting there, an upper year Canadian engineering student was taking a walk as well. He passed by me but then turned back and asked whether or not he could sit with me. He sat there and asked why I was sitting alone, he chatted with me and listened to my stories and background, and he encouraged me to talk to my family frequently and suggested ways on how to start a conversation with strangers. From his words not only did I know what my future university life looks like, but I was also encouraged and motivated. Eventually, I overcame homesickness by socializing with people from my classes and meeting many who are supportive and friendly.

Besides the support from this engineering student, my philosophy TA also helped me a lot with writing essays and comprehending texts. I took philosophy in my first year and by the end of first semester the philosophical world appealed to me. However, the amount of reading and writing quadrupled during the second semester which overwhelmed me. Remembering those days when great treaties dominated my mind and when I struggled in understanding concepts and writing term essays, I appreciated the support from the TA. My TA really understood my difficulties, explained concepts patiently, as well as gave me advice on reading and writing. With his help I succeeded in this course and my interest in philosophy was further developed.

With support from others the journey at Queen’s became smoother and I finally succeeded in my first year.

Part 3: The Acceleration of this story is coming soon. Follow our blog to get notices of new posts!

My story of studying in Canada as an international student

My name is Xiangtao Meng, a current second year Economics major student at Queen’s University. Time flies, but memories about the summer I spent in Kingston during the QBridge program, my first year and the first half of my second year at Queen’s are so vivid, and it seems as if they just happened yesterday.

What is QBridge? QBridge is a university preparation program for students who have received  a conditional offer of acceptance to an undergraduate program at Queen’sUniversity.

Part 1: The transition

If you can dream it, you can do it.  By Walt Disney

Before I came to Canada, I had been living in a city called Qinhuangdao, China, since I was born. Different from those who pursue a higher education abroad and study in international schools, I had my education from Grade 1 to Grade 13 in public schools and had never thought about going abroad until the second to last year in my high school. I was facing two choices: attend a great university in China and do excellent there or go abroad and try something new. Even though I was excellent in my high school, I was bored with the rote study and the rigid daily routine without any flexibility, and I really wanted to make my every endeavor on doing what I am interested in and what is new to me. Finally, I chose to study in Canada and at Queen’s University. In order to strengthen my weaknesses before the full time study, I enrolled in the QBridge program during the summer and spent the best summer ever in my life.

Although I spend most of my time on improving English during my first summer in Canada, I was ecstatic about grasping new English skills, and the process of learning English was not dry or monotonous at all. During the class in the day, I was in a really small study group with only seven students and an excellent instructor. Different from my perspective of how a language course is taught, the course was designed in a scheme based more on discussion, guided by the instructor and driven by students’ interests. At the beginning of this course, we were required to choose what we are interested in, and then read and write about it before class and discuss it in class. Before class, I learned new vocabularies, reading skills and writing skills by reading and writing; during the class, I enhanced what I learned by myself and found out new weaknesses. In this way, not only did I become an expert in the field of what I am interested in, but I also improved my English on vocabularies, reading, writing and speaking skills. On the other hand, due to the fact that I only had six hour classes in the day, three hours in the morning and in the afternoon respectively, I had plenty of time for myself after the class at 4:30PM. Personally, I spent most of the time after class on doing homework and exploring Kingston. It was during a walk that I met some compassionate and talkative seniors who I could talk to when I felt bored or homesick. Besides my QBridge classmates, I really treated them as my friends, sharing my stories with them and also listening to their life paths and stories. Gradually, my English improved from classes, self-learning and most importantly from emerging myself into Canada and using English daily.

At the end of the summer, I was glad to see a big improvement of my English, but I was also much more delighted to see was that I gained more confidence on talking to others and accomplishing my undergraduate in a foreign country.

The early bird catches the worm.

Besides the improvement of English, the other thing I really benefited from was the familiarity with the new city and the university campus. When the Residence Move In Day came, and every one was familiarizing with the new campus, I have already known which restaurant is the best in Kingston, where I should go for grocery shopping and most importantly, have bought my first year books and gotten all my first year courses arranged perfectly. When everyone else got lost in the new city and even the new campus, I became a guide for other students and acquainted many people in this way. Without the transition during that summer, I would had been overwhelmed and even had spent a longer time on adapting to the new city, new culture as well as the English-speaking environment.

For me, I armed myself physically by learning Canadian culture, improving English, acquainting with the new city and obtaining confidence. On the other hand, I also armed myself mentally by learning how to think critically. I still remember there was one class in QBridge, when students and the instructor discussed what the traditional Chinese wedding was. When referring to it, I would describe it without any hesitation: bride and groom are wearing the traditional Chinese wedding clothes, the bride is covered with a piece of red cloth and has to cross a basin full of firing charcoal etc. However, I now know I was wrong as I think more critically. Saying traditional Chinese wedding is implicit. There are more than fifty peoples and several dynasties in China, and without clarification of them, traditional Chinese wedding does not refer to any specific wedding at all. In my first year, I start to realize the importance of critical thinking, no matter on reading, writing or even watching news. It helps me to realize the bias of the author or the scene behind the screen and the discrepancy between the fact and what is said.

It was only in these two months in the summer that I transited from an Eastern country to a Western country, and that I improved my English, adapted to the new city, learned about the new culture and got everything prepared for September.

Part 2: The Foundation and Part 3: The Acceleration of this story are coming soon. Follow our blog to get notices of new posts!

Traveling to QSoE

Since we know that traveling can be stressful, we have put together some tips to help with your travels to QSoE

YuairportBefore you arrive:

Pack accordingly! What you pack will depend on how many sessions you study at QSoE, because Kingston’s climate varies throughout the year. Please refer to our Weather in Kingston page for more information.

Here are some suggestions of items of clothing to bring by season:

Fall (September- December):
-Light jacket for the beginning and warm wool or down-filled coat towards the end
-A comfortable pair of shoes and boots
-Light gloves, scarf, hat

Winter (January-April):
-Warm winter coat and boots
-Hat, scarf, gloves
-Ice skates! (You can also rent these in Kingston)

Summer (May-August):
-Shorts, t-shirts, and swimming suit
-The beginning of the session can sometimes be cool so you should bring a light jacket
-Sandals, comfortable walking shoes
-Sunglasses and sunhat

Note: you can purchase everything you need here in Kingston.

When you arrive:

Items such as toiletries and school supplies can all be purchased in Kingston. Shoppers Drugmart is a popular pharmacy, located within walking distance of Queen’s University. There is also Drugsmart pharmacy on campus in the Queen’s Centre. Yuairport2

If you are living in residence and cooking your own food, groceries can be bought in the many supermarkets in and around campus. The Grocery Check-Out is located in the Queen’s Centre, but there is also a Metro grocery store a 5 minute walk from campus, and Food Basics approximately 20 minutes away.

Depending on how many sessions you are studying you may want to have a Canadian cell-phone. Many phone companies provide monthly or pay-as-you-go services without having to sign into a contract. The most popular companies are Rogers, Bell or Telus. These stores are located along the downtown Princess Street, walking distance from campus.

After you are here

If you are interested in travelling around Canada (to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and etc.), especially to nearby major cities, Megabus and Coach Canada offer discounted bus services. You can also travel by train with VIArail. Often these services have student discounts, and with Megabus, the earlier you purchase your ticket, the cheaper it is!

You can travel within Kingston by city bus (free with your Queen’s Student card) or by taxi.

We hope these tips have eased your travel worries! Do you have any travel tips of your own? Share them with us by commenting below!

How to Overcome Culture Shock

By Richards Dickinsins

RichardFor some people it is difficult to live abroad because it’s hard for them to adapt to the differences between their hometown and the new environment. A clear fact of this problem is when we start to feel sad and unhappy with everything in the new country. At first we have to learn so many new things such as the language and culture. Living abroad is a challenge for many people because it is not easy to live far away from your family and friends, especially when it is your first time. Usually when you are in this situation you don’t realize it. You find everything hard and always want to give up.

A common result of this situation is “depression,” which is when you feel often tired, stressed, not hungry, without energy to do activities and always want to be alone.

Good advice to challenge this is being social and interacting with people; sharing your feelings and keeping your mind busy doing exercise and getting along with friends.

At QSoE, Student Advisor services are also available if you need someone to talk to. You can email soerecep@queensu.ca to schedule an appointment.