International student edition: Why you should attend orientation

Written by Deea Deb

Calling all new international students! Orientation week is approaching and you might be wondering what it’s all about. We’re here to help.

Sharneela Aarin Inesa

We met with Sharneela Aarin Inesa, student coordinator for orientation and transition with York International, to learn more about how orientation can help you succeed at York. If you are apprehensive about university life, don’t worry. You are not alone. 

Many international students, like yourself, may worry about language barriers, adjusting to a new culture, living in a new country away from their families, a different academic environment, making friends and adjusting to York’s campuses.

Inesa, a fourth-year economics student, felt the same when she first came to Canada from Bangladesh. 

“Students’ anxiety about building a social network in a new country and a new university is very valid because real-life situations are always changing,” she says. “Orientation helped me find a community within York that has become my support system. York International has a ton of resources that can make our transition easier.”

What’s different about York’s international student orientation compared to the overall York orientation?

The international student orientation is specifically geared towards assisting international students get settled in university and Canada, says Inesa. During the August 28 resource fair, international students will have access to on- and off-campus partners presenting their services, including student banking, finding the perfect phone service, immigration services, student wellness, career services and more. 

“Attending this fair will help students transition smoothly into life in Canada and York,” says Inesa.

And if you are worried about making friends, orientation is a great place to meet new people. 

“One of the biggest benefits of orientation is social integration. Participating in icebreakers and social events allows students to build friendships and create a sense of community,” says Inesa. “It is also important to attend your program orientation, where you can meet some of your instructors and upper-year students.” 

Upper-year students are a great resource too! They’ve been where you are and can give you insider information on courses, navigating the campus, the best food joints and more.

Orientation helps you build your confidence.

Orientation gives new international students an opportunity to learn about different student services and off campus partners, adds Inesa. These services may include counseling, health services, career development, financial aid, banks, phone companies, and more.  

“By providing information and support, orientation helps build students' confidence in handling various aspects of university life, such as academics, campus navigation, and social interactions,” says Inesa. 

When attending orientation, Inesa suggests keeping a few things in mind:

  1. Keep an open and positive mind. Go with the flow and have fun!
  2. Everyone is in the same boat as you. Don’t be afraid to talk to people.
  3. Be prepared to take in a lot of information about the university, academics, resources and campus life. Take notes!
  4. Attend your college orientation. It is a great way to meet people outside the international community. Your college is your home away from home.
  5. York doesn’t expect you to know everything on your first day, and neither should you. That’s what orientation is for – to take you through the things that’ll help you settle in.
  6. Ask questions. You never know how your question can help other students find answers.

Orientation is the beginning of an exciting university journey, make the most of it! 

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming orientation week events

Good luck, Lions!