Student Success Stories

Student Success Stories

Durham College - Oshawa, Ontario

Contact Information:
Durham College – International Department 2000 Simcoe Street North Oshawa, Ontario L1H 7L7 Canada   Ph:   905-721-2000 ex. 2355  Fax:   905-721-3372

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Student Details:

Name: Ying Li
Country of Origin: China
Field of Study: Environmental Technology

 Student Story:

Durham College, Student Stories My name is Ying Li, I come from China. Right now I am studying environmental technology in Durham College, and just finished my first year study this April. I hope that my story will give international students and newcomers some advice to overcome problems.

The reason I chose Canada to study was uncertain, I had a lot of expectations about coming Canada such as learning English, studying with newest technology, having a better future, knowing different people, and making friends. I came to Canada on October 15, 2005. After thirteen hours flying, I reached Toronto international airport, I got a little bit tired and was still very excited. I said to my companion that looking at the beautiful city; it should be a lot of fun here. However, the following half years was not much fun because of my poor English. I was studying in Durham College's English program, called EAP for short, which has 8 levels for college entrance and 10 levels for University, and every level is set out for two months. That means students have to spend eight weeks to finish each level in order to get into next level. I started it from level one which is a very low level. I couldn't listen and speak, and it was very frustrating here at that time. I remember the first day I went to class; I just stared at the teacher, but understood nothing and said nothing. Even when the teacher told me the class was finished, I couldn't respond. Living was still hard, I wanted to see my parents by internet, and the internet connection in my computer didn't work, but I didn't know how to explain it to my homestay. I couldn't do anything for months; I just simply went to school every day, and finished whatever homework the teacher gave me. I made a plan to learn 50 words per day. I read news, listened to the radio and watched TV. I do everything I could to improve my English. Also my English teachers in Durham College helped me a lot. They are the best teachers I have ever met in my life. One of the teachers names Lori, taught me in level 5, and she knew that my pronunciation has problems, so everyday in level 5, after class she spent one half hour to teach me how to pronounce correctly. The experience in EAP program really improved my English a lot. From knowing a little about English to be capable of communicating with others, I have seen a big change. I was not afraid of talking to Canadians and I gained confidence during my studies. I began to have some Canadian friends.

After I graduated from the EAP program, I went to Durham College to study Environmental Technology because I love the program. Working with nature makes me feel very happy. When I was in China I always concern about new technology in control pollution and global warming. I am willing to contribute my entire life to work with it and against greenhouse gas emissions. I choose Canada and Durham College to fulfill my dream because it provides the most edge of technical for controlling and managing environment, and I am so impressed with Canada's effort for the greenhouse gas emission control. The beginning of the program was hard enough for me. Even though I learned about many academic articles during EAP program, but it was still very tough for months. I got six courses in my semester one including mathematics, chemistry, biology, and communication courses, and I had to get over 50 percent for each course to pass, Durham College's policy that you must pass four of courses (out of six) in one semester in order to get into second semester; If you failed, you have to repeat it. I was afraid of failing because I thought my English had nothing to compare to Canadian students at that time. Actually, I was in trouble with listening and speaking during the class because the professors' speeches were so fast for me. I couldn't understand what they said during the class and I scared to ask them questions. I thought my classmates would laugh me because of my awkward English. I had spent 3-4 hours to read the books at home everyday and I started to ask the Learning Support Centre for help which is set up in Durham College to improve students' writing and communication skills. I was taking very serious about my courses and tried to think many ways to pass. For example, my chemical lab report received a low mark by the professor, and by looking through the report, I considered why I got the low mark and what information I didn't have. If I could not figure out, I would ask my professor until I knew what is wrong in my report and what the professor expectations from me. By doing this, it really helped me to get a very good mark next time, and the effect continued work that I haven't received my lab report mark lower than 80%. I listened carefully every class and tried to understand the lectures as more as I can because more I can get from class and more I will spend less time to read books at night. Also, I found it is very useful to finish your homework on time because many questions in tests or exams have the similar solving process from your homework. They will help you to speed up time of taking tests and exams and understand better. I surprisingly got a GPA 3.79 in my first semester. And the following second semester, I received even higher GPA 3.94. I thought it is because my understanding was better than before, and I had gotten to know my classmates, my professors, and their expectations for me. My study life was even easier than previous semester. I don't need to spend much time to review books after classes. I had saved time to do something else. I applied the study permit and I took a waiters job in a Japanese restaurant. By serving customers, I had practiced my English. I joined church, the church's missionaries had come to my apartment every day, and each day they teach me half hour about Jesus Christ and a half hour English. They also held a Saturday school for teaching international students English. The church provides many activities every week including beach, camping, and bowling ball activities. Hanging around church members made me feel less lonely, and I gained faith or confidence to speak English frequently and smoothly. My school put me on honor roll students list! I was very happy and proud and I know it is not easy for newcomers who know little about English when they come here to have the honor.

I am planning that when I complete my program, I will go back to my country and help to improve the environment there, and I also expect to find a job in here using my knowledge I learned from school to serving the country I love so much. My dream work is to work with electron recycle company. It is not easy for international students to get comfortable when they are a newcomer here because different cultures, lifestyles, languages, and food. However, it is not like the bad condition will last forever. After time goes by and your English get better, the situation will change dramatically. I am not shy to speak English; I don't feel lonely because I make a lot of friends at school.

My suggesting is to remember learning a langrage is not easy, be prepared to spend time to overcome it, make progress everyday and don't feel shy to speak out, join study groups, activities, or church. Be confident, active and happy.