The Mentorship Spot
The Perspective of an Out-of-Province Student
By: Kai Lin
My name is Kai Lin and I am from Edmonton, Alberta. I came to Ontario to attend Western in the hopes of graduating from the Richard Ivey Business School.
Why did you choose to come all the way to Ontario?
I chose Western because I knew I wanted to pursue business. In Alberta, there aren’t many attractive options for business schools, and knowing that I wanted to pursue a career in finance or consulting - I wanted to move to a school that would give great opportunities to succeed in these sectors, like Toronto or Vancouver. With the recognition and reputation that the Ivey Business School has, I felt like it was the easy choice to make a move to Western, along with its “case-type” teaching style which ensured a more hands-on experience when learning.
How do you deal with homesickness?
It is tough knowing that you won’t be able to see your parents, siblings or pets everyday like you are so used to. However, I found that building really strong friendships is extremely important because it essentially is your second family at school. At the start of the year I found a great group of friends that would share the same interests as me and that I get along with really well. It is nice knowing that you have a support group right along with you, as it takes those homesick thoughts and helps you forget about them in the time being. As well, facetime and texting family and friends back home really helps because it maintains the healthy relationship that you all have and gives assurance that once you get back home, it’ll be like no time has passed as well.
How have you liked living in residence?
It for sure is very different from living at home. For one, you get so much more freedom and can do whatever you want with your time - although I suggest you use your time wisely and always make sure to be on top of your studies. Because a lot of the floors are in learning living communities, you have a massive network around you, and can always reach out for help with school if you struggle, or create study groups. Furthermore, it is really nice making new friends within residence because it makes having fun really accessible and when you feel the need to just kick back and relax with someone, you’ll always have the luxury of having people there with you. Also, In residence, everyone is looking for friends, so don’t be shy to reach out and just talk. I feel like a lot of my friends I’ve made at residence will be long-term friends just because of all the memories and similarities that we all have with each other, and all the time we’ve spent together supporting and chilling with one another. All in all, living in residence is super fun and I would definitely recommend it. It might be more expensive than the typical off campus housing but it’s definitely an experience you won’t forget!
How was your life back home and how has it changed in Ontario? What did you do to adapt with the sudden changes?
Back in Edmonton I was extremely active and played competitive sports for as long as I can remember. SPorts were a huge part of my upbringing, and I decided to stop playing competitively for university because I wanted to focus on studies. It was a hard switch, because it meant that I had to stop doing the stuff I loved. Sports always gave me that feeling of happiness and escape whenever I wasn’t feeling well, so it was hard at first to cope with it. But Western gives many opportunities to still play sports, albeit not as competitive. Intramurals, Junior Varsity and even access to the gym all gave me a boost in confidence and mood because it gave me something to look after in the day, or the week. Although things were not as competitive, they still provided me with the fun and joy, and a nice escape from homework that I need very often.
What are some pieces of advice you can give to other OOP Students?
Being a fairly shy person I thought it would be difficult for me to make friends. One huge piece of advice is to step out of your comfort zone and just talk to others. Even if you don’t click, or don’t feel as close right at the start, you realize more and more what you want in a friend and connection in university. I feel like your typical high school friends and university friends are extremely different - you would probably be spending the next 4 years of your life with these university friends, and maybe even further down the road from then. It is much more important to choose friends with similar interests because it will allow you to develop a strong sense of friendship that could last a lifetime, as opposed to high school, where sometimes we’d choose friends because they were popular, funny, et cetera. There is no “popularity” contest in university and you need to make sure that your friends are more mature because you are going to be living on your own.
Another piece of advice I can give is make sure to keep up with school!! Being out of province and having the freedom to do whatever, it’s easy to get caught up in having fun or spending more chill time and less work time. I say this from first hand experience because during the first semester I felt the need to be included in everything, and have fun every minute of the day. For me this hurt my sleep schedule and my motivation to do work, so I was sometimes behind in school and had to cram things last minute. This causes extreme stress that I suggest you avoid, because believe me, it does not feel good. Set daily goals, even if they are small goals, in order to finish your work and always make sure that you get a reasonable amount of work done before going out!