You’ve just stepped off the plane and nervous excitement fills your bones as you pass immigration and collect your baggage. Studying abroad has been your dream; finally, you are doing it. You are overwhelmed as you leave the airport because it is all new. While this is everything you ever wanted, a little fear is only natural. Understanding another culture, mastering a second language, making friends, and adapting to a different environment — it is a lot. Some schools make this transition easier with the right resources and programmes catered specifically for international students. At Dalhousie University, these initiatives are just one of the many ways that new students are made to feel at home on campus and in the city.
Passionate staff make this possible. Mandy Morgan brings 15 years of experience working with the university to her current role as Exchange Coordinator at the International Centre — one she performs with exuberance. “I’m very much enjoying my time in the international field and having the opportunity to speak with students all over the world,” she says.
Over 4,500 international students chose to study at Dalhousie University. What attracts students worldwide is its excellence in research (the school is Atlantic Canada’s primary research-intensive university) and its accolades. The university is ranked 12th overall in Canada (QS World University Rankings), has a Gold rating for sustainability (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) and is among the Top 16 Canadian universities in terms of impact (Times Higher Education).
As you achieve academic excellence, you’ll get to savour the full Dal experience. While the Agricultural Campus is located only an hour away in Truro, the school’s three other campuses are situated in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. One of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, Halifax is a safe, close-knit haven that’s home to more than 425,000 people. This melting pot of culture is known for East Coast food, entertainment, history and culture.
Whichever campus you’re based on, you’ll start your Dal journey on the right foot. “The International Centre on the Halifax Campus and the Student Success Centre on the Truro Campus hold orientations for International Students specifically,” says Morgan. “The International Centre and Student Success Centre strive to be as welcoming and available as possible throughout a student’s university journey.”
This theme of support persists throughout your whole time here. “There is a career services department that can help students with current and future career goals,” says Morgan. “The Writing Centre is a wonderful support for International Students as they help with academic writing, resume writing and lots of other things.”
The Student Success Centre at Dal AC has various services dedicated specifically to new students. For instance, Study Skills Coaching is offered regularly throughout the academic year so that you can get the grades you want. The Writing Centre can help you with essays, assignments, lab reports, and presentations. There is even a Help Centre where a free tutor service can coach you in maths, physics, or statistic-based courses. Morgan adds that international students can approach the Student Success Centre to access the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme, health services, and financial services as well.
There is support for students before they even start their academic year. Dalhousie University’s website has useful resources, such as a new student checklist which features things to do three months out and one month out, and helpful tips. These explain how to get to campus from the airport, make a budget, familiarise yourself with campus buildings, find ATMs on campus, get Microsoft Office for free, get textbooks (new and used), and more. Resources specific to international students include details on local groceries, how to get a driver’s licence in Nova Scotia, Canadian holidays, and a list of additional things to pack (for example, Study Permit Approval letter, Dalhousie Admission letter, and medical files).
Together@Dal aims to increase students’ sense of belonging, academic self-efficacy, and engagement with the Dalhousie community and to provide support and resources that students need to be academically successful. “Together@Dal is a mentorship programme that matches up senior-level students with new students,” adds Morgan.
Mentors utilise three main avenues: one-on-one and group mentoring, organising and facilitating social events and programming, and leading academic support sessions. “The International Centre on the Halifax campus and the Student Success Centre at Truro have student assistants/peers that work in our offices, which are a great help with new students,” says Morgan.
With a full schedule of activities throughout the year, this is a university where you’ll get to meet many interesting people and make even more memories. Encouraged to work together in societies for events, coming together for Monday Night Meals, and holding multicultural activities, the university and Halifax will soon feel like second homes. This sense of belonging, the constant support from staff and a comprehensive list of services will empower you to thrive both academically and personally. They certainly make it easier to achieve your dreams.