Lu Xu graduating from Stay in Nova Scotia, a program for international students

Lu Xu was selected for Stay In Nova Scotia, a professional development program for international students run by EduNova Co-operative Ltd.

Two months ago, I finished my master degree marking an end to an important chapter of my academic life in Canada. I graduated with a journalism degree from the University of King’s College, a program that’s extremely challenging for international students.

Prior to Halifax I spent a year in Melbourne doing an art management degree at the University of Melbourne. I remember I was in a dusty tiny apartment in Melbourne when I learned that I had been admitted to King’s. I immediately opened another browser and started searching flights to Halifax.

It was a really big decision for me to come to Canada – as it is for many international students. Since I moved here, many friends — both Canadians and Chinese — have asked me why I left Australia for Canada. “Did you not like Australia?”

I sure did enjoy my time at Melbourne; the art gallery, theatre performances and amazing food always make me want to go back. But during my time in Canada, I began to truly feel this is a place that I could call home one day.

Not just my friends asked that question. I myself have posed that question to a lot of subjects I interviewed. “Of all the countries you could have gone, why Canada?”

Of course everyone has their own unique reasons and stories about how and why they came to Canada, but no matter where they started, the reasons they ended up choosing Canada are very similar. Here are the top three reasons for me and my friends about why we chose to come and stay here.

Canada is safe

This reason came up multiple times during my conversations with other international students and my own decision-making. I can’t stress enough about how important safety was for me when I was considering studying abroad. When you leave your hometown and move to another country (and in my case the country is very far away), the first thing you want to know is if you are going to be safe. Distance makes everything seem more dangerous to me. This is especially true if you are from a place that has lots of conflicts.

Canadians are nice

Yes, niceness does pay off. I remember seeing one of my friends taking a photo of a car making way for the roaring ambulance. He told me this small gesture really moved him because it shows that people here care.

It’s always the small things that make you want to stay and live in a country. Contrary to the common belief, it’s never about how high you get paid or how good the weather is, for many newcomers, it’s that sense of belonging, the small kind gestures help us decide to make this our home.

It’s cheap

There have been a lot of complaints about the “rocking high” tuition increase. According to Statistic Canada, average tuition fees for international students rose by 6.3% for the 2017-2018 year. However, if you compare Canadian tuition fees with those in the United States or Australia, international students here pay cheaper tuition without compromising on the quality of the education. Sound like a good deal?

I can’t speak for everyone but I’m quite satisfied with my experience at the University of King’s College. I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone and learned some practical journalism skills. And my annual expenses including tuition were almost half of what I spent in Australia.

Today, as I write this, is also the graduation day for Stay In Nova Scotia, a year-long program organized by EduNova Co-operative Ltd. that offers professional development and mentorship service to selected international students. During my time of living in Halifax, I received generous help from such programs and individuals. I was embraced by the city and it has grown on me.

Thank you Halifax. This is not the end, but a new beginning!

Lu Xu is a freelance journalist and marketing professional who helped launch Polestar Student Immigration News.

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