For Aditya Jariwala, the diverse student body in the University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of the most attractive aspects of studying in the university. “I feel like no matter what year and faculty someone is in, after a point people are not nervous to talk to strangers,” the commerce student says.
In this interview with Careers360, Aditya talks about his campus life in UBC, how the University has helped him take his goals forward and discover his own ability as a global student.
Below are the excerpts of the interview
Q. How and why did you choose University of British Columbia?
A. Initially, I was accepted into two Canadian universities, University of Toronto (2 different degrees) and University of British Columbia. There were many reasons why I chose UBC, but the primary reasons were:
University Life: UBC’s campus is more than 1,000 acres with over 3 different residences dedicated primarily to first years and more than 7 different residences available after first year. I knew that picking UBC would give me an amazing chance to meet many likeminded students. There is such diversity at UBC as well, students from all over the world and in this way I would get to meet people from different countries with different cultures and different perspectives.
Opportunity: UBC has almost 150 student- run clubs which meant I could get a diverse experience by working for these clubs and gaining experience. In fact, I started my own club at UBC and there is plenty of room for something similar.
Q. Tell us about your choice of career. Which factors influenced your decision to pursue commerce?
A. I am in the commerce faculty at UBC, called the Sauder School of Business, and it is one of the most prestigious faculties in the world. The endless opportunities in the faculty itself took me by surprise. Most faculties at UBC, including mine, allow students to take electives (courses outside the primary area of study). I took electives in Psychology, Economics and Philosophy and I am considering doing a minor in Psychology now, something that I would have never considered. The vast amount of courses offered at the university included some great choices such as entrepreneurship and many other fields of study. I plan on doing a double major in Marketing and Human Resources because after taking an introductory course for every major offered at Sauder, I realized that I shared huge passion for these two fields of study. Although, I do want to be an entrepreneur eventually and start my own company.
Q. How did you go about the process of applying at the university?
A. The process was not that complex while applying to universities. After making a list of the universities I wanted to apply to in Canada, I researched on their requirements for each faculty for being accepted. When I began applying to UBC, I submitted my grades from 9th till 12th grade and a projected score of my 12th board exam (generated by the school), since I did ISC. They also asked us to write 200 word essays on different topics, such as leadership and teamwork, as well as submit our resume. The essays and resume were all related to past experiences we have had academically as well as in extra-curricular activities. I also attached a copy of my IELTS grade (not required, but it is an asset), which I believed helped me out.
Q. Tell us about the campus life at your university. How different is it from the Indian campus life?
A. I am not sure what an Indian campus life is like, since I did not do my undergraduate degree in India, nor did I study in a boarding school. But, I would definitely say that the campus at UBC is much diverse. There are people from all over the world and we go to various events with our friends. In my first year, I went to an event run by the Chinese Students Association with some friends and I noticed that non- Chinese students also came to attend such events. The Indian Student Association held a party for Holi and a lot people came for the event, not only Indians, but also Malaysian, Canadian, American, South American, etc.
Q. How is the competition level? How would you describe your experience of studying in a foreign university?
A. There are different competition levels a student can face. First, I think the biggest competition a student, moving to a foreign university, will face is with themselves. After studying under the Indian education system, it was a huge transition for me. When I graduated from 12th grade in 2014, 20% of my board exam grade was allotted to the board project and viva, and the remaining 80% was allotted to the grade from board exams (not sure if it is still the same). In the Western side, it is different. For example, for one of my courses, 2-3% of your final grade will be allotted to attendance and participating in class. Another 10% can be allotted to one of the assignments, so if you got a 90% on the assignment, you already have 9% for your final grade. The final exam is generally only worth 30-50% of the final grade (depending on what course it is).
Second, UBC itself is competitive in nature. A lot of students do drop out after first year because they cannot maintain their grade as required by different faculties, for example, Sauder requires you to maintain a 60% average in 1st year in order to stay in the program, and 60% every year after that. Although from what I have experienced, there is positive competition. Competition to apply for positions in clubs with resume and cover letters, then doing the interview and hoping you get in. Certainly a lot to learn and room to grow as a person!
Q. Did you look beyond the Indian community while making friends?
A. Yes, I definitely looked way beyond the Indian community. It definitely is easier to walk up to an Indian and spark a conversation because it’s more relatable and you have things in common to talk about. But I told myself when I came here “Everyone you see are from different countries and even students from within Canada are new to university life. They are nervous about everything including making friends. They are in the same position as you and are afraid to walk up to someone and just talk to them.” After embracing this ideology, it became easier to start a conversation with a stranger from different countries. I walked up to a girl once from Ecuador and spoke with her, asked her what faculty is she in, what does she plan on majoring in, how do I say “how are you” in Spanish, and suddenly the ice is broken.
Q. What is one of the most interesting things about your university campus?
A. Student body. I feel like no matter what year and faculty someone is in, after a point people are not nervous to talk to strangers. For example, the other day I was having lunch with a friend from Thailand and we met one of his friends and he introduced us. Eventually, she joined us for lunch and we had good conversations about classes, mutual friends and clubs. The three of us ended up studying and completing a homework for one of our courses that evening. It is certainly interesting how open and inclusive the students are.
Q. Did you hold any part-time job? How does it help in your education?
A. I did not work in my first year, but I definitely began the summer after first-year ended and still continue to hold a part-time job. I would not recommend a first year to work as well as study because the transition itself is a very difficult thing to adjust to and some of my friends who tried to work and study in first year did have a tough time maintaining things and reaching assignment deadlines. Generally, after first year, students get a more balanced schedule because this time they know what to expect when second year begins, so they learn to be on top of each assignment and not leave it to the last moment. I believe any part-time job helps out. My first job was being a cashier at a grocery store on campus and it helped me out because I improved on my interpersonal skills and how to communicate with people. I also learned on how to be patient with people even when they are not too patient. I am now working in a more business related job, but I definitely learned a lot from my previous part-time jobs.
Q. What are your future plans? Do you want to stay back and work or go back to your home country?
A. As of now, I have not reached a decision on what I want to do after I graduate, I still have 2 years, until graduation, to make a final decision. Canada certainly has its perks, but home is home. You can take the boy/girl out of India, but you can’t take the India out of the boy/girl! I am going forward with an open mind and just enjoying my university time, making new friends every week and enjoying the courses I am taking and let’s see where it takes me.
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