Students mix and mingle 

Reception at Montefiore Club welcomes new international students

By Anna Sarkissian

International students sheepishly raise their hands when President Judith Woodsworth asked if any of them missed their mothers during the event on Sept. 22. Magnifying glass

International students sheepishly raise their hands when President Judith Woodsworth asked if any of them missed their mothers during the event on Sept. 22.

Surviving Montreal’s wintry weather was a hot topic for discussion as new international students mingled with consular representatives, faculty and staff at the International Students’ Reception on Sept. 22.

“In Canada, we like to talk about the weather,” said President Judith Woodsworth to the 300 guests gathered at the Montefiore Club.

If you find yourself searching for a topic of conversation while waiting for the shuttle bus or the elevator, she light-heartedly told the audience to try asking: “Is it cold enough for you?”

For international student Eric Moses Gashirabake, Montreal is plenty cold. He grew up in Rwanda and Kenya and moved to Quebec in 2007.

“It gets too cold and too hot here,” said Gashirabake, who is studying bio-chemistry.

Pianist Chiawen Wu, originally from Taiwan, has lived in Cleveland for the past 11 years so she’s used to the weather. She is working on a graduate diploma in advanced music performance studies. Wu has visited Montreal several times and, impressed by the diversity and bilingualism, chose Concordia to pursue her studies.

“People are so nice here,” she said.

Aurélie Tzeuton, who was born in France to Cameroonian parents, couldn’t believe her luck when she saw Cameroon on engineering student Austin Takam’s nametag. She was thrilled with the opportunity to exchange stories with Austin, who, as it turns out, grew up near her family in the West African country.

Tzeuton, an international business major, misses her mom’s food and has been surviving on frozen meals. She has already settled into an apartment on Berri and will be cooking African dishes as soon as she can find all the ingredients.

Mohamed Amid Mhamdi, 24, who hails from Morocco, is pursuing a masters degree in software engineering. His professors back home highly recommended that he study in Canada and he found exactly what he wanted at Concordia.

“I’m glad I chose this university. The students are really open-minded,” he said.

Hosted by the Office of the President, the annual event welcomes international students to Concordia and allows them to meet each other, along with university staff and faculty, government officials, and representatives from over a dozen consulates.

Associate Vice-president, Enrolment and Student Services, Roger Côté explained how students could access various on-campus resources like financial aid and awards, the work-study program and student assistance.

“We’re here to help you make the most of your university experience,” he said.

Mhamdi said he feels ready to confront the challenges ahead. He wants to learn about Canadian culture, improve his French and English, get involved in the community.

“You don’t come such a long way for nothing. I want to succeed here,” he said.


Concordia University