International Student story: Jiawen’s Cultural Transition
Post created by Julie Yaqi Hao, M.Ed. student at Queen’s University.
Happy New Year, everyone!
I talked with Jiawen Fan, a Master of Education student from China, enrolled in Queen’s-SCNU (South China Normal University) dual-degree program. We talked at the end of her first semester about her life and study experiences as an international student since her arrival in Canada in September, 2017.
Jiawen Fan, Master of Education student
Julie: Jiawen, I know you are from China. As China is a large country, where in China are you from? Can you tell us a bit more about your hometown in China? Any difference or similarity to Kingston?
Jiawen: OK. I come from Shenzhen. It is one of the metropolises in China. There is huge difference between Shenzhen and Kingston. Shenzhen is a cosmopolitan city located immediately north of Hong Kong while Kingston is a small, quiet and beautiful city set on Lake Ontario. For something similar, both Shenzhen and Kingston are coastal cities with pretty coastlines and amazing views. Additionally, I feel both of them have many restaurants with cuisines of different regions and cultures.
Julie: Did you try some local food here?
Jiawen: Yes, my favorite Canadian food is fondue. It’s very delicious.
Julie: Since you have been studying here at Queen’s for a few months, can you talk about your impression about Queen’s University, compared to your university in China? How about teachers’ teaching styles in both countries? And how do you like them?
Jiawen: My home institution is South China Normal University. It is a pretty school with a rich greenery of grass and trees. I also feel fascinated with Queen’s campus. It is beautiful in both scenery and architecture, and it provides great resources of a large variety for students. I feel so fortunate to study at Queen’s. As for teachers, in China, some of them tend to retain full control of classroom and direct most of the activities, while others encourage us to collaborate and communicate with one another. In Canada, however, most teachers are inclined to operate with student-centered instruction. I prefer a combination of both approaches. As a student, I feel like to have a good command of knowledge as well as an active involvement in learning activities. I believe the combination can help create well-balanced education dynamic.
Julie: Have you joined any student clubs or participated in any extracurricular activities? How do you like it so far?
Jiawen: I didn’t join any student clubs, but I work voluntarily in two different programs every week. One is a music program in Molly Brant elementary school, and the other is Youth Group of Immigrant Services Kingston and Area (ISKA). I love my voluntary work very much. It has offered me great opportunities to get involved in the community and make new friends.
Julie: Thank you for your contribution to our local community. To talk about getting alone with friends, what do you think is most important when socializing with your Canadian peers?
Jiawen: I found Canadian peers love to socialize, and there are a lot of social activities. The most important thing for me when socializing with Canadian peers is not to be afraid of asking and to keep confident. If you don’t understand, there is no need to pretend and just ask them to explain for you. Many Canadian peers are very nice and patient.
Julie: In your study or work in Canada, did you run into any challenge? How did you try to cope with it, if any?
Jiawen: As for me, I sometimes found it difficult to fully understand local English speakers here, especially in group discussion with classmates. They use a lot of slangs and local terms. In an attempt to cope with it, I watched a lot of talk shows and TV dramas, and, actually, I am still working on it.
Julie: You could also join our English Conversation Group at International Centre on every Thursday evening to improve oral English.
Jiawen: Thank you. I will give it a shot next semester.
Julie: Finally, would you like to give one suggestion to incoming international students in the winter semester?
Jiawen: I would say, I highly encourage you to see, to experience, and to leap out of your comfort zone.
Julie: Thank you, Jiawen. Wish you a successful new year!