UR International Orientation sessions underway

By Dale Johnson Posted: May 5, 2015 9:30 a.m.

Winnia Zhang, Global Learning Centre Coordinator (right), leads a UR International orientation session.
Winnia Zhang, Global Learning Centre Coordinator (right), leads a UR International orientation session. Photo: Rae Graham – U of R Photography.

The University of Regina is helping international students adjust to life in Regina, by holding orientation sessions every afternoon during the first week of May.

These sessions are where people who are new to Canada can find out more about studying and living in a new country – including such things as academic counselling, health services, community events in Regina, and immigration issues.

In one session, there were students from India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Latoya Reid, who has been teaching school in Jamaica for 10 years, arrived in Regina a week ago to take pre-social work classes – and she took in one of the orientation sessions.

“To get the full experience out of anything you want to do, you have to be oriented first – you have to learn the social norms of anywhere new. I’m new, and I don’t want to offend anyone, and I would love to be accustomed to the norms in this culture here,” Latoya explains.

So what surprised her at the orientation session the most?

“What struck me most of all is that the professors are interested in students excelling, so they told us about academic advising, what is expected of us, and how the professors are open to us asking questions and assisting us. That is really welcoming, and coming from somewhere else, that’s what you want to feel,” she says.

The sessions are also designed to help students succeed beyond the classroom, whether that’s navigating the health care and immigration systems, or finding out about social events and activities in Regina. The orientation also covers subtle cultural issues.

“I asked what the average tip in a restaurant is, because down in Arkansas it has become normal for 20 per cent to be the normal service tip,” says Anthony Fernando, a graduate student in biology who is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, who just moved with his wife and daughter to Regina from Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

These orientation sessions are yet another way that UR International supports new students. The number of international students attending the University of Regina has more than doubled during the past five years, and there are more than 2,000 international students on campus.

“For anyone who’s travelled far to come here and start a new life, they need supports. We don’t want them to miss out when they’re transitioning to life in Regina,” explains Winnia Zhang, Coordinator of the Global Learning Centre.