Dear international student, these past months have been great. I have enjoyed talking to you about what you can do as an international student at OISE. It is important to be aware of all the steps you need to take in order to have a successful experience. Being an international student can be bittersweet. Take it from someone who has struggled a lot within the system and transitioning from a Spanish Academy to an English one. However, OISE is an amazing institution, and believe me, you will never forget about your journey here. In these previous posts, you can find some important information about the application process and tuition fees: The first days, For a better application process, and The first week of school.
The last couples of weeks I have been conducting interviews to different international students, most of them Master of Education (M.Ed.). An M.Ed. is a professional degree that OISE offers for anybody who wants to have an educational background. The M.Ed. is not funded, and for international students, it is really expensive. The others interviewees were a Ph.D. and a Master of Teaching (M.A) students. As you know, a Ph.D. is a doctoral degree, and for the case of this particular interviewee, it was partially funded. On the other hand, a master of teaching is a degree that teachers in Ontario have to take in order to be able to teach in the region. The M.T. is not a funded program for international students. As you can see, the norm is that international students rarely have funding. There are some exceptions. However, they are rare. Moreover, there are only a few scholarships international students can apply at the University. Please, take this information into consideration before you make any life-changing decisions.
The interviewees were from Philippines, Peru, Ivory Coast, The U.S, and Ecuador. In the interviews, I asked 4 questions. In this post, I will present a summary of the responses, and I would add my own responses. You will see how most of us had had a really similar experience at OISE.
- What drew you to OISE’s program?
The interviews agree that OISE most appealing feature is its focus on Social Justice, Anti-Racist Education, and Equity Studies. Also, OISE’s reputation for having the best education programs in Canada. One of our interviews, for example, decided to study at OISE after attending a conference in Japan. OISE’s reputation is worldwide! For me, what drew me to OISE was the location and the courses. Toronto is a great and multicultural city to live in. And the courses of the Social Justice Education (SJE) program are amazing! Take a look at the courses of the different programs for the 2016-2017 year: Course Schedule
2. What did you love about the program and/or your professors and peers?
All the interviewees agree on the following (and me too!):
Program: the programs have amazing courses. Moreover, in all the programs (except the M.T) it is mandatory to take only 5 courses in your department. This flexibility allows students to take courses in other departments of OISE or U of T.
Professors: approachable, accomplish in their field, never look down to the students, always willing to make time for advising. For me, the thing that I love the most about my professors at the SJE Department was the diversity of nationalities where they come from. As an international scholar, it is always amazing to know that there are different voices being heard in an academic environment. Check the faculty’s profiles in their department to get a sense of what I’m talking about.
Peers: solid, with a different background, passionate. It is because of the peers that OISE has a true intercultural and interdisciplinary environment.
- What did you learn about yourself at OISE?
Responses to this questions were really alike. Most of the interviewees have learned that there is nothing to be afraid of. OISE has a friendly academic environment for everybody. Maybe the most difficult part is getting used to working in academic English. But, once you have passed the firsts couple of weeks, insecurities are gone. International students from Latin America, Asia, or Africa countries are often told that the educational level of our home countries is below the North American-Europe countries. Dear international student, don’t believe that. If you have made it to OISE. You belong here. You will thank your country and its challenges during your studies here. Believe me.
4. How has been your experience as an international student at OISE?
Even though in the academic department most international students feel challenged and comfortable, overall our experiences have been always hard. Here are a few reasons why
- Tuitions fees are really high, and it makes our lives extremely difficult. One of our interviewees manifested that he wouldn’t enroll their children at OISE because of how expensive it is.
- Sometimes, the administration is not prepared to answer questions or inquiries of international students. This is a really sensitive issue since students from abroad need solid information to make life changing decisions. Counseling, immigration, taxes information are urgent and needed.
- There are not international students’ specialists at OISE. Someone with an office only for international student’s issues.
- No funding, no grants, no awards, no scholarships. Funding is a big problem if you are not granted a scholarship or have enough means to pay for your education.
Dear international student. Be advise with this information. As I’ve already say it, it can be bittersweet if you don’t take your precautions.
Español: Estudiantes internacionales en OISE