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Champlain College, which contains the Trent International Offices, shown from the Faryon Bridge. Photo credit: Rishabh Joshi.

The Highs and Lows International and Exchange Students Experience at Trent

Written by
Tru Van Wyck
and
and
November 24, 2022
The Highs and Lows International and Exchange Students Experience at Trent
Champlain College, which contains the Trent International Offices, shown from the Faryon Bridge. Photo credit: Rishabh Joshi.

Trent University has a diverse and vibrant population of international and exchange students from all over the globe, all here to continue their education while experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, and travelling throughout Canada. The international students complete their entire degree here at Trent, while exchange students are here for just a semester or two. In preparation for my own exchange semester to Nottingham, England, I reached out to several international and exchange students for their opinions and perspectives of Trent and advice for other international and exchange students.

Alexis is an international student from the U.S. completing her graduate degree in Anthropology. She found it difficult to gather all the needed documents for her studies at Trent, only to discover once she arrived that even more paperwork was required. She has not found many notable cultural differences between here and the U.S., but rather differences between the undergraduate program she completed in the U.S. compared to the graduate program here in Canada. In contrast to her alma mater, Grand Valley State University, she finds Trent more disorganized. She was not able to access her assigned Trent Durham-GTA courses for the first two weeks of classes, she had difficulty accessing the Wi-Fi, and having her scholarships applied. However, Alexis was blown away by the number of community events and student opportunities offered here at Trent and is excited to continue her education here. Alexis recommends international students make a checklist of all needed paperwork before leaving for Trent.

Kristy, an international student from Cambodia, is here for a four-year bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. She has had an overall positive experience but has had difficulty with the application process due to administrative issues. Communicating with Trent via email prior to her exchange consisted of long response times. Positively, Kristy’s class sizes here at Trent are reasonable, giving her more opportunities to connect with her peers and professors. One of the biggest challenges she has faced is having to move every four months due to her co-op placements. Without many connections here, moving fees have become expensive. This is something incoming co-op international students need to keep in mind when budgeting for their exchange. Trent should play a more active role in helping students find a place to live past the initial housing placement if the student is in co-op, especially since international students may not be aware of local housing websites and postings. Kristy found Trent Health Services to be well-explained and easy to access. Her advice for incoming international students is to utilize all the resources they can to gain as much information as possible before starting at Trent. As well as reaching out and getting to know other Canadian students. Kristy’s Canadian friends helped her navigate grocery shopping and unfamiliar snack options. 

Irene is an international student from El Salvador and is studying International Development and Political Studies. She sees Trent as a diverse and multicultural space that brings international students together. She has been exposed to and learned about other students’ cultures, languages, and traditions. Irene found the other international students to be very accepting and forthcoming which has encouraged closer relationships with her peers. However, regarding Trent Health Services, Irene has had difficulty booking an appointment due to long wait times, despite her pain levels. She had to reach out to online medical support because she did not receive care at Trent. Health Services should be able to make emergency appointments for students that require immediate care, especially if they are outside their host country with limited resources. Irene encourages future international students to find a community at Trent to help with everyday challenges and administrative needs such as getting a SIN number, paying taxes, and finding a place to live. 

Bethan was an exchange student at Trent University studying English Literature and History. She defined her exchange year at Trent as an overall positive experience. Bethan got involved with Arthur as a communications coordinator during her first month of exchange and is now Editor-In-Chief of the paper. When applying for courses, she was able to select from a wide range of options, as exchange students do not need to have prerequisites. As well, she was able to connect to other international and exchange students to travel Canada with. Frustratingly, it was mandatory to sign up for a meal plan and due to her short time at Trent, it was difficult to get her money’s worth. Additionally, she would have preferred to sign up for classes on her own rather than having to do so via a representative from Trent. Regarding Health Services, she had an issue when she first arrived because she couldn’t book an in-person visit due to COVID-19. The only option was telephone appointments but at the time she did not have a Canadian number. With most pandemic restrictions behind us, I hope future international students will not be faced with this issue. Bethan encourages incoming exchange students to get to know other Canadian students to immerse themselves in the culture and get to know the country.

Each student has had a unique experience at Trent and with continued assistance from the Trent community, health care improvements, and administration support we can make this university the obvious choice for international students. I encourage you as Trent students to meet the international and exchange students for they bring the world to Trent.

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