SAIT – Before & After… A bright future.

anna karina

My name is Ana Karinna and my experience with SAIT began in 2010. When I was in Mexico waiting for the acceptance letter from the New Media Production and Design program I was very nervous. I waited weeks for that letter!  SAIT International Center was always in touch with me keeping me updated with my application, especially Michelle Mi, helping me in answering all my concerns and I appreciate very much her support and her excellent service. Finally one day in April 2010, Michelle gave me great news that I was accepted to the New Media Production and Design program and that she will be sending me that acceptance letter very soon in order to start all the student visa process in my country.  I felt very proud that I was accepted out of all the international people who applied since there were only few seats available for international students in this program.

My first day in school was on September 2010 and it was great.  It was a big introduction between instructors and new classmates, very friendly environment with tours through the classrooms and SAIT facilities areas.

The New Media Production and Design program specializes and teaches different areas like design, photography, videography, motion graphic, audio, 3D and interactive media.  

The first year we took time to learn how to use programs and build different media projects with other class members.  The second year was focused on building your own projects for your portfolio.  Each student is given an opportunity to learn more about what interests them.  I chose to specialize in photography, design and videography.  I gratefully was able to work with the SAIT Trojans for a part my practicum. I created promo videos of their mascot “Troy”.  Troy would go on adventures and find himself in funny situations.

The remaining hours of my practicum I found myself editing videos for the local news station Shaw TV.  It was a great opportunity and the experiences tough me more then I could ever have imagined!

The two years I attended at SAIT where incredible. Great instructors, new experiences and the many great friendships I made are things I will never forget.  My favorite experience out of it all would have to be attending my showcase.  Every year the New Media Production and Design students put on show their best pieces of work over the past two years.  It was amazing to see what others had accomplished.  Showcase was a great experience and celebration of my time at SAIT.   After I participated in Showcase I took part in a beautiful ceremony where I graduated SAIT with honors.

Currently I am working in the New Media field as a freelance contractor.  I have worked with Pohl Communications, Future Considerations, Telus Spark, Respect Group and many more.  Working freelance has given me the opportunity to build on my skills set while taking on a variety of different clients and projects.

I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoyed my experience at SAIT.  The moments I took part in will never be forgotten and the future as never seemed so bright!

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‘It is all about the journey, not the destination’

My name is Christian Lopez, I am an international student from Mexico here at SAIT.  My journey starts almost a year ago around February 2011; I had arrived home from work earlier on that day and my parents were watching this program of people from Spain living abroad.  The program was showing the life of a guy from Barcelona living in Australia.  As I saw this, I got hooked with the idea of living in another country as well.  The long awaited adventure was about to start.  From the vague idea of coming to Canada, to my actual first steps into the country and finally living the ‘Oh Canada!’

So there I was, with this weird thought in my mind of going abroad.   Working on this great Mexican truck company and as proud as I could be because I even learned how to drive the ’18 wheelers’, even with that, I felt like something was missing in my life.  Like a big void in my soul.  No kidding that is how I felt at the time; however things were about to change.  I heard about this big exhibition of universities from Alberta happening on a well renowned hotel in my home city and I was very excited because I already had the idea implanted in my brain of going abroad.  For my surprise, the first booth I found at the expo was SAIT’s booth,  this funny talking guy who was actually from Mexico was running it.  In short, he told me he was actually living in Calgary, he was married to a Canadian girl and the best thing that I could do was to study the Petroleum Engineering.  So without even going to see the other booths at the show I just asked for more information (e.g. living expenses, directions, program tuitions, etc.).  The idea was embedded into my brain, there was no way I could let this opportunity go.

All the paperwork was done; my Canadian VISA had just arrived (after filling like a ton of forms and waivers).  I had to quit my job of course (with big sorrow). Eventually I was walking my first steps into the country and the first unfortunate event went on.  My baggage got left behind at Salt Lake City.
– Oh my God! Really!? – , well actually it was the second event as I almost miss my flight from Salt Lake to Calgary.  With no baggage and my English not working so well, there I was, in a country that nobody seems speak not even the slightest thing of Spanish. I managed to make myself understand to the guy in charge of lost baggage, he spoke so fast that I could barely understand.  I even forgot how to spell my name when he asked me to.  Finally I got through all that mess just to realize that my cousin, who was supposed to pick me up, was not there yet; without a way to communicate to her I just thought – Ok! Enough for today, I am going to wait here and she will come for sure – Twenty minutes later, she appeared! I was so thrilled to see her. Two days later I came to the airport, they’ve finally had my baggage, at last! For some reason my bag went on a trip to Minneapolis (still don’t know how the heck that happened).  That was a cheap shot Canada! At least I knew I still wasn’t living the so called ‘Oh Canada!’ life.  I knew for sure good things were cooking up for me.

From a vague idea to my first steps into a new country, it was a big relief just to think I’d finally made it! Since the day I arrived on June 5th I’ve been quite busy.  First, I realized my English wasn’t that good (which was an awful thing since I come from a country that claims that its second language is English because of the closeness to USA).  That wasn’t a stopper for me of course. Right now I’m taking the last level of speech on the ELF course and will be starting my academic course (Petroleum Engineering) on January 2013.  Over this semester, from July to November, I’ve been so involved with most of the international centre activities which have been really cool.  Things like tripping to Banff (Johnston Canyon, the gondola, etc.), the international week festivities, and soon the Christmas dinner with other international students among other things.  At this point, I can say unequivocally that I consider some people at the office like real family.  It is a good place that gives you a warm feeling, just like home I would dare to say.

At this point, I can’t be sure what the future holds for me.  Only to think I just took my chances to come here because of a vague and crazy idea, up to be able to take my first steps into a different country all alone, it is indeed a stepping stone in my life.  And this has just begun for me.

A New Adventure: Reflections from Adriana Rovelli

A new adventure

I arrived in Canada in July 2012, along with the 100th anniversary of the Stampede. Rodeos, parades and the great sunny summer weather gradually helped me adapt to the strong Canadian cold weather.

With great emotion I begin my journey at Sait in September. Starting school in a completely different, unfamiliar educational system and in another language had me quite worried and nervous. So when I discovered that the institution had several free workshops for all students on how to succeed in post-Secondary school, I had not doubt and I enroll on most of them. It was a great way to help prepare me for both the upcoming year and it provided me knowledge about the resources that are on campus.

Fear, anxiety, nervousness, home sickness; these are just a few of the feelings that you can encounter when you are coming to another completely different country.  These feelings are all natural as we have entered in an unknown world, we have to face it with positive thinking, perseverance, and a lot of determination. This will make the journey become much easier. This is a completely new adventure and you are like to encounter a lot of emotion, new experiences, and new friendships.

Even though I have some family here in Canada, being an international student your greatest resource is the institution itself. Here at Sait I have discovered a lot of great resources to help international students in their transition. In my personal opinion, being always aware of what are the current opportunities, regulations, policies and resource of what any institution can offer, is one of the major strategies to avoid the strong educational and cultural shock.

Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.
George Santayana

Adriana at the Columbia Ice-fields

 

A special experience taking care of a kid with autism

I am an international student from China. I am currently a 1st semester student taking the Business Administration program.

Eight months ago, I arrived in Canada getting a new start. Everything was so different from China, even though I live with my uncle’s family. One day before my term begins; my uncle answered the phone and had a friend ask for a favor; to take care of his four-year kid with autism, Gabriel, as the parents had to leave to see a doctor. When I heard the news, I thought “why not?”  I quickly got ready to go there and imagined what a kid with autism would look like.

Honestly, taking care of a special needs kid is not the most difficult thing in the world. In detail, Gabriel, unlike “normal kids” with basic expressions, he just lives in his own inner world. No crying, no tricks, he simply has a unique routine to have some fun. At first, I was surprised he could continually do one thing for multiple times with limited reaction from outside. This allows me to have a preliminary understanding of a kid with autism. After that, I learned the relative information from Internet that Autism refers to a person who has difficulty with cognitive function and social communication, so this group needs help from both parents and society.

Fortunately, Gabriel was born in Canada; a country that dedicates itself contributing to medical and social services. Gabriel is fortunate to benefit from that. On weekday mornings, instructors coming from autism non-profit organizations guide and give Gabriel basic training. The family also receives a fund from the government throughout every year. Because of the help and guidance from many perspectives, Gabriel has made great progress from when I saw him few weeks ago. Specially, I found he is talented in some aspects like memory and imitation. It reminds me of a news story saying a sixteen-year old teenager depicted a vivid aerial view of New York City after spending three days on the airplane. That might be a special gift from God to these special children.

For me, having spent time with Gabriel, I had quick access to know about the government benefits especially on exceptional children. Besides, as his parents talked with me so much on the local customs in Calgary, I gradually began to love this dynamic city.

Gabriel, a name that comes from the Bible means an angel spreads auspicious news to people, and I hope this lucky boy will grow up smoothly. God bless him.

Qiaochu (Grace) Zhang is a Chinese International Student who is currently in the Business Administration Program.Image

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Learning, Growth and Success

My journey with SAIT began   in January 2008, when I first came to Canada from Taiwan by myself. The winter was particularly cold that year, and I was only 19. I was not quite sure about what I was doing and what I was supposed to do in the future.  Anyhow, I started the English course at SAIT. This course really helped me to learn the language and to understand the Canadian education system. It also developed my confidence.

While my entire classmates in the English course were discussing what program/career they were getting in, I felt alone. I felt like I was the only person who had no idea about the future. I believe most of the young Asians are just like me: over-protected, so we usually do not think independently. We just follow whatever our parents/friends/teachers say and we do it without asking questions.

So, I thought I should ask for help. I had the chance to talk with one of the ladies who works at SAIT international Centre. I will never forget her kindness, her enthusiasm, and her patience to explain all the programs SAIT had as well as the career options after graduating from those programs.

After that conversation, I had a basic idea about what I wanted to do, something that would work for me – not for my parents, teachers or friends. I decided to study the Emergency Medical Program. As soon as I got the certificate I realized that it was not the best choice for me. But, that was not the end of the world. I decided to take the Health Information Program from which I learned a lot about the Canadian Health Care System and I graduated with a high GPA! My interest in the Health and Safety programs did not end there! After that, I started the Rehabilitation Therapy Program.  I will be graduating soon. Most importantly, from all the programs I have completed, I learned that I do not simply want a job. I learned that I want a career in something I am passionate about and I am really passionate about what I am currently studying, which is very good for me!

This is not the whole thing! SAIT has also provided me with lots of opportunities to learn by volunteering. I volunteer at a nursing home as well as the International Centre here at SAIT. The International Centre has offered me the opportunity to help organize events as well as being involved in their Global Buddy Program which helps new international students adapt to life in Calgary. Although I have had a lot of volunteer experiences, the most memorable volunteer experience I have done was with SAIT International Centre when I helped to promote the institution in Taiwan.

It has been a great journey… Today, when I look back and see myself, I see so many differences and I know my life is meaningful now. I give the credit for this big change to SAIT, which helps and supports International Students and makes their lives worthwhile. Now, when I see an International Student coming to SAIT, I try my best to help them so they can also accomplish what they travelled to achieve, like I have done!

Ching Yin Liang is a Taiwanese International Student who took the Emergency Medical Program and the Health Information Program. She is now studying hard to graduate from the Rehabilitation Therapy Program. If you want to contact Ching, email her at z90542@hotmail.com

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“The more you do, the more you get”

I came to Canada on 30 August, 2011.  And everything has started at the International orientation. I’ve found lots of friends from all over the world there and we still keep in touch.  It was my first time in an English speaking country but I was surprised that it was so easy to understand Canadians and other foreigners.

My communication skills and willingness to meet new people helps me a lot.  Networking is very important for the newcomers in Canada.  I try to participate in all activities here at SAIT. From September right after coming to study I was enrolled in SIFE (Student in Free Enterprise) business club.  Firstly I was there as a project stuff.  From SIFE I knew about “YOU Innovate Canada” tournament.  The idea was to create a value from the ordinary object.  This year it was a coffee cup. We could use any kinds of coffee cups: porcelain, paper one, “to go” mugs and the value could be different: monetary, social, environmental.

The idea of creating a social and environmental value came immediately into my mind.  I decided to make the bird- feeders out of paper disposable cup.  The task was to make and submit a short 3 minute video about the process of creating a value and the result.  There planned to be 3 teams from SAIT, but only 1 team got the things done!  We had only 2 weeks to do all the required stuff.  As I live in the SAIT residence I didn’t have even scissors to cut the cups, paint brush to color them, I had no idea how to use movie editing software to create a video clip. All in all, 30 birdfeeders were made, 3 posters were created, 4 lectures were held at SAIT and the video was submitted and everything was done in 4 days!

Our video got more than 7000 votes all over the world.  My friends from Russia supported me with their votes as well.  This period was the most exciting and interesting during my stay in Canada.  We came across with strong competitors and there was something like online battle between us. Being in Calgary only for 2 months I became so popular and even there was an article in the Weal newspaper about our participation in the competition.

Finally our video was chosen among the 3 best in all of Alberta and we got second position in the post-secondary category.  The most precious outcomes of this competition were gaining new skills (now I can make clips in MS Movie Maker) and now I know that there is nothing impossible for me.  It helps me a lot, not only in my studies, but in all other aspects of my life. Moreover, thanks to this competition, from January 2012 I am the President of Student in Free Enterprise business club at SAIT.

My motto is “The more you do, the more you get”.  That means that it is important to participate everywhere when you have a chance, volunteer everywhere, communicate with people, meet new friends, be involved and you will succeed!

To view Dinara’s Next Top Accountant video please click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJFi3Pe8KBA 
Dinara Yanbaeva is an International Student from Russia. She is currently taking the Business Administration program at SAIT and is the President of the SIFE Business Club. You can reach Dinara at Dinara.Yanbaeva@edu.sait.ca

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A Day in the Highwood

The most memorable experience that I had during my first semester at SAIT was the 3-weeks Food and Beverage Service course in the Highwood Dining Room. This dining room is a live class room environment which offers School of Hospitality and Tourism’s students a chance to practice essential skills in a real restaurant setting. We studied the theory lessons in class and put them in practice by serving Highwood Restaurant’s guests in the evening.

The class was really fun and enjoyable. My teachers, Pat Ryan and Ross Robinson, were so helpful and devoted to the students. They always encouraged me to get more confident to step out and serve my tables (I was afraid because I had never done that before). We learned many proper manners used in a fine dining restaurant such as table setting, formal food and wine services, bartending, table side service. Before, all the forks, knifes, and spoons set on a fancy dining table looked all the same for me; but I can tell the differences between them now J and where they should go. We were taught different styles of napkin folding even the boot fold style ^^. We learned about which side to serve food and beverage from, which side to clear the dishes. We did bartending with mixing and making some common cocktails and drinks. I also got to practice making the flambé coffee for my guests at their table. It was so cool and beautiful!!

There were also some little challenges that made it more interesting during the time. Be prepared to questions from the guests like where’s blue crab from, Pacific Ocean or Atlantic Ocean ;). Last but not least, it couldn’t be that great without my classmates. As a team, we helped each other, shared knowledge and had fun. I felt comfortable and more confident because I knew I always got support from my friends in any cases.

My two years in Hospitality Management program at SAIT was a great learning experience. I wish everyone enjoys your classes and your time at SAIT too!!!

Phuong Bui is an international student from Vietnam who has graduated from the Hospitality Management program.

Picture courtesy of: http://travelingboy.com/archive-travel-wendy-cancun.html

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5 things that Chinese students must know about Canada

This is the 3rd year I have been in Canada. I still remember my first day: it was July 29th and it was already 8pm when I got off the plane. I was soooooo surprised that the sun was still shining as strong as it was at noon! That will NEVER happen in mainland China!!! As time passed, I found that there are a lot of differences between China and Canada.

First: Class presentations are very normal here! A friend of mine told me a story about one of his very shy Chinese friends who, at the end of the program, was delivering great presentations and even making jokes during the presentations! That original shyness is understandable – when I was in high school in China, I never delivered a presentation. A few weeks ago, I talked to a friend who is attending university in China and she told me that she had only two presentations per semester… However, depending on the major you are taking, there are no presentations at all!

Second: In any post-secondary institution in China, 98% of your classmates will be as old as you are. That is why I was shocked the first time I saw my classmates in the ELF program whose ages ranged a lot!

Third: In China, typically parents will support their kids financially even if they are already 18 years old. So, most of the Chinese students will only study and play, they will not work hard because their parents will give them money. Coming to Canada, Chinese students will see that almost all Canadian students have part-time jobs!

Fourth: The format of the exams is different. In my country, all the exams are paper-based. So, Chinese students have to practice computer skills before coming to Canada, since most of the exams are computer-based.

Fifth: It is very easy to graduate from a university in China, even if you do not study very hard, but, do not think you can graduate here in Canada without studying and a lot of hard work!! So have a down-to-earth attitude and do not miss any class… That’s how you can get an A+.

I hope this helps Chinese students who are coming to SAIT to better understand how things are here in Canada!

Simin Zhang is a Chinese International Student from Chengde who is taking the Information Technology program at SAIT. If you want to contact her, e-mail Simin at spancerzhang@hotmail.com

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Overcoming the challenges

Walking around…

[By Eeshwar Grewal]

Coming to a culture that is completely the opposite of your culture can turn your world upside down! I wrote this post so that some of my experiences can help the next person who steps outside his/her comfort zone.

One of the biggest challenges faced when we live abroad is to overcome the issues related to the language. Sometimes people do not understand us clearly and we do not understand them either! However, do not assume it is always you (or your accent) who needs improvement. People you are talking with can be just hard of hearing or simply do not speak clear enough. Do not be afraid of asking questions and asking people to repeat what they just said. There is no problem on that!

I would say that two big things to start doing before coming to Canada are: 1) to read local newspapers (it will help you with your reading and writing); 2) to find a good Canadian TV show to watch as it helps you to get used to the accent you are going to listen every day (some TV channels make their programs available in the Internet).

Still regarding the language, there is one more thing: a mistake that International Students use to make is to speak their mother tongue whenever they meet a person from their own country. Now imagine you standing between two people speaking a language you do not understand… The first question that comes to your mind is: “are they talking about me?”. Plus: we study and live abroad to have an international experience, right? Limiting yourself to a small group of peers will limit the ability to fully utilize the opportunity and, believe me, you are the only one who is going to suffer. I mean: do not forget your own culture, but look at the future, get to know other cultures and other ways of life!

One last thing: as soon as you land you will realize that you have tons of work to do and also several opportunities to have fun! It is up to you to achieve a balance between work and party. So, make sure that the parties you attend today will not cost you tomorrow! I do not mean you do not have to party at all. You have to! But find the right balance! Being at SAIT, I can definitely say that this is a special place for International Students. We have a system along the path which help us not to end up working too much nor too little!

Eeshwar Grewal is an International Student from Chandigarh, India. He is currently taking the Business Administration program at SAIT and can be reached at eeshwargrewal@gmail.com

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Enjoy the weather!

This is me, ready to go down the slope

[By Andrey Ustyugov]

I have already spent over 1 year as an International Student in Canada.  This year was full of events, new experiences, new acquaintances, and a huge step in broadening my outlook which is very important for me. I am absolutely convinced that, wherever you go and expose yourself to a new culture, you have to use the opportunity to gain as much as possible from it. This is particularly true for those people coming from the Southern hemisphere and/or warm climate countries. When you come to such a Northern country as Canada, it can be very different from your homeland in terms of culture and weather.  However, because we become so worried about these differences, sometimes we may not realize the opportunities that these differences can bring up.

One classic feature of Canada is the cold winter.  Being myself from a Northern country, I have so many positive emotions associated with winter and all the exciting activities it brings with it.  However, I have noticed that not all International Students share my excitement about the approaching winter. At a certain point, I have come to realize that this is due to the fact that not everybody sees the positive sides of this kind of climate.  Yes, winter brings cold weather and ends summer.  But, on the other hand, many nations that face cold weather most of the year have come up with some cool (literally sometimes!) ways to make the season unforgettable and makes you impatiently wait for a new winter – and its snow – during the summers.

Winter is not just cold and slippery sidewalks.  Winter is white crispy snow that makes sure you know the laws of physics do work!  It means: you can experience acceleration (due to gravity) by gliding on a fresh powder snow on a snowboard or ski at a heart-breaking speed while breathing the fresh and clear air that you can only experience on a sunny winter day!  The Province of Alberta, in particular, offers a unique opportunity of being close to numerous ski resorts.  From time to time, SAIT organizes ski and snowboard trips with all possible support.

For me, being in Canada and not taking advantage of the amazing Canadian winter is like feeling the heat in Hawaii without enjoying the beaches. You know, when you go to Australia you make sure you try surfing, right?  So when you come to Canada, you do not have an excuse to miss all the great pleasures that come with Canadian winter!

Andrey Ustyugov is an International Student from Russia. Before joining SAIT to take the Petroleum Engineering Technology program, he studied foreign languages in his home country and worked as a translator/interpreter in Africa and Asia. You can reach Andrey at astafjev.forever@gmail.com  

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