Karla Valenzuela

Chile

PhD in Microbiology and Immunology – Dalhousie University 

1. What did you study?  

I did my masters here at Dal and I’m in my 5th year of a PhD in Microbiology and  Immunology at Dal, too. 

2. Why Canada? 

I always wanted to do grad school abroad in an English-speaking country. I had various options, but I ended up choosing Canada because of the hospitality and good attitude towards immigration. I was very pleased to find that all the good things I read about living in Canada were true, this is a wonderful country in so many aspects!   

3. Why did you choose Dalhousie University 

I had three universities in mind UBC, UAlberta, and Dalhousie, mostly because I wanted to get a degree that included both microbiology and immunology in one program. Not many universities in Canada offer these two disciplines together. I contacted professors at these universities and the first one to reply was from Dalhousie. I am so glad I ended up coming to Dalhousie! I never heard about Halifax before but it’s such a beautiful city and it reminds me so much of my home country because it’s right by the ocean.   

4. Did you receive any scholarships to help fund your studies?  

Yes, I had a scholarship from the government of Chile. The money I received was enough to pay rent, eat and buy clothes without the need to work. This scholarship is called “Becas Chile” and is given to around 1000 students every year to pursue grad school overseas.

 5. What are your favourite things about Dalhousie University?   

I love the collegial atmosphere here at Dal, people are so nice and friendly. I like that Dal takes care of their students and makes sure that we have enough resources to make the most out of our studies. There are plenty of opportunities to grow academically and also personally. For example, you can access free training to prepare you for professional life and how to apply to jobs. Dal also offers English as a second language programs that are very helpful for international students.  

6. Tell us about some of the positive aspects of your experience as an international student in Halifax.  

Halifax is a wonderful place to live! It isn’t a huge city, but it has pretty much everything (food, retail, places to visit, etc.) a bigger city offers, and most importantly, Halifax is very safe. People here are so nice and polite that makes me homesick anytime I go elsewhere, and I don’t get treated as respectfully and nicely as I’m here. As an international student, it can sometimes be tough to communicate in a second language but Haligonians are very patient and try their best to communicate with you. Also, Halifax has other 3 universities, so the city is full of students most of the time so you can make many friends.   

7. What do you enjoy about your life on and off-campus?  

Dalhousie’s campuses are immersed in the city so you can go to school and have lunch at one of the many restaurants downtown and then go back to school all within walking distance. The city is very walkable, I feel everything (supermarket, restaurants, school, etc) is close by. Also, Halifax has many beautiful parks and trails to explore by foot or bicycle. There are also plenty of beaches to visit! One of my favourite things to do in the summer is riding my bike to Lawrencetown Beach and have a picnic there. I also enjoy going for a walk to Point Pleasant Park which is about 15 min walk from where I live.  Winter in Halifax is very mild compared to other Canadian cities, so you can enjoy a walk outside pretty much year-round.  

8. Any advice for future candidates that would like to come to Canada to do their graduate studies?  

I think the best advice I can give future students is to embrace Canada, its people, and its culture. Living in Canada has taught me so much about compassion, acceptance, and respect that I feel I have grown not only academically but also emotionally. Also, that missing family is normal, and you learn to live with that feeling. In fact, I feel I got closer to friends and family while living overseas because you tend to keep in contact with them more often. Lastly, Canadian educational standards are high so be prepared to get a great academic experience and make the most out of it.   

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David Molina Concha

Chile

Phd in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering – University of Toronto

1. What did you study?

PhD in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

2. Why Canada?

Canada is a multicultural country, with world-class universities and friendly cities, offering economic and social stability. Research and innovation are relevant to local businesses, fostering joint projects between firms or entrepreneurs with universities.

3. Why the University of Toronto?

The faculty of Applied Science & Engineering of the University of Toronto is the #1 engineering school in Canada and one of the best in the world. It provides flexibility for multidisciplinary learning and a great research environment.

4. Did you receive any scholarships to help fund your studies?

Yes, I was awarded with The National Research and Development Agency of Chile (ANID) Scholarship “Becas Chile”.

5. What were your favourite things about the University?

One of my favourite things about the university is that it has a lot of groups or association that are constantly supporting students with awards, workshops, social and wellness activities.

6. How was your experience as an International Student?

It was amazing; the university has a centre for international experience where I found answers for academic and non-academic topics, like health insurance, accommodation, admission, and workshops oriented for non-native English speakers.

7. How was student life like on and off-campus?

Student life in St.George campus if definitively very enjoyable, if you want to engage with others there is always open events or clubs for different interests or Hobbies. Each Faculty has spaces designed for individual or group study, along with green spaces.

Regarding off campus life, Toronto offer many attractions and sites, like CN Tower for panoramic views and Toronto Island Park to enjoy outdoors. There are a lot of sports and cultural events every weekend.

8. Any advice for future candidates that would like to come to Canada to do their graduate studies?

I’d advise to invest time in exploring all the available resources in the university for international students, including CALDO, and reach potential supervisors to check for research projects and funding opportunities.

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Ronie Haro

Chile

PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Dalhousie University 

1. Why Canada? 

 I was looking for an English-speaking country with top universities that would offer high-quality graduate programs in my field of interest. On the other hand, I was also interested in finding a friendly environment that would help with cultural adaptation. For those reasons, I have chosen Canada and, fortunately, it has fulfilled my expectations. 

2. Why did you choose Dalhousie University? 

  I chose Dalhousie University and the biochemistry and molecular biology PhD program because it has a high reputation and internationally recognized researchers who have made a significant contribution to my research area of interest. 

3. Did you receive any scholarships to help fund your studies?  

 My studies are currently funded by the Becas-Chile scholarship. The Becas-Chile scholarship is a program that offers financial assistance to Chilean professionals from various fields to continue graduate studies in the most prestigious universities in the world. 

4. What are your favourite things about Dalhousie University 

 I like the sense of community that Dalhousie provides along with its multicultural background. All this results in an enriched graduate experience.

5. Tell us about some of the positive aspects of your experience as an international student in Halifax.  

 Halifax feels like home. It is small and peaceful with plenty of green areas, parks, and beautiful coastal landscapes that are perfectly suited for outdoor activities. The Haligonians are the kindest and friendly people who make me feels part of their community and culture.

6. What do you enjoy about your life on and off-campus?  

 I really enjoy life on-campus hanging out with some friends and colleagues. Also, like the access to the health and fitness facilities and libraries and attending to cultural activities. Likewise, I enjoy life off-campus such as camping, trekking, biking, and running. 

7. Any advice for future candidates that would like to come to Canada to do their graduate studies?  

 I totally recommend Canada for graduate studies. You will be most welcome in a multicultural society. I recommend being open to embracing Canadian culture and its customs as well as being active members of your community. 

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Aracely Aguilera

Chile

I’m from Arica, Chile. I’m a full-time student in the Med in Higher Education at OISE, University of Toronto. I chose Canada because it’s a multicultural and multilingual country, I know I would be safer as a woman compared to my experience in Chile. I wanted a place that would care about indigenous lives and acknowledge the value of migrants’ stories and the lgbtq+ community.

  1. Why did you choose the University of Toronto? 

The University is the number one in the country and 23rd in the world ranks. The education department, OISE, is one of the few with an interdisciplinary lens to education as a whole. Their vibrant research and academic staff stand from the rest of other departments because of its social impact. The learning experience is holistic and focuses on social justice. You will learn from excellent professors who are top-notch in their areas, and you will have access to the most comprehensive research and scholarly resources.

  1. What was/is your favourite things about the University? 

It is lively, diverse and inclusive. There are many great opportunities for graduate students to connect with others and find like-minded people to network and share. Graduate students tend to be more isolated because of the nature of their program. Still, the University with all of its units offers a wide variety of clubs, work-study opportunities, mental health resources, and excellent sports facilities. Plus, it is incredibly safe. For instance, before this pandemic, every Thursday morning, I attended to some crafting sessions held by HartHouse. It was a therapeutic time for self-care, meeting people, having some free coffee or tea, and making some crafts.

  1. How was/is your experience as an International Student?  

Welcoming. As I said, the University and the country are culturally aware of their demographics; you may find places to eat, places to pray and worship, and opportunities to improve your language skills in an academic setting. There are support and guidance. You will not feel like an island.

  1. How was/is student life like on and off-campus? 

It’s been entirely satisfactory. There are opportunities to work on campus as well as off-campus, and I appreciate that. I guess I have had a great experience living with a Canadian family and connecting with the customs and their culture. The only downside of Toronto is its high rent price. It is challenging to find a place that is not pricy downtown. Therefore, I decided to move north and rent a place that can be affordable.

  1. Any advice for future candidates that would like to come to Canada to do their graduate studies? 

Since I have my prior experience studying in the UK, I strongly recommend Canada If you are an international student. It might be cold in winter, but the cities are well prepared and suitable for such weather. I would recommend preparing their applications in advance. And UofT requires you to mail or post your documents. So that is something to consider in terms of time and your budget. Also, if you are worried about a tight budget, Canada is a great place to work, and there are plenty of job opportunities for us international graduates. Therefore, I recommend you to attend any workshop they may offer before and after you enter, and always check on the campus tours. UofT is an enormous campus, so, even if you have classes only in one department, go sightseeing in other units. You may find other libraries, places to eat, read and study, and perhaps do some exercise.

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Javiera Martínez

Chile

Master in Pharmacy Practice – University of Alberta 

I am from Chile and I did my Master’s studies in Pharmacy Practice. I wanted to pursue grad studies in an English-speaking country. I love nature, and Canada has some of the most stunning lakes and forests. Also, Canada is well-known for being a multicultural country that offers high-quality education, so I thought it was an excellent place to be.

1. Why the University of Alberta?

I wanted to study abroad to expand my vision about pharmacy practice and gain tools to do research in the future to contribute to my home country’s health development. When I started looking at different options, I found Dr. Hughes’s research area (sexual health), and I think she was not only a great match but also working with someone I looked up to.

2. Did you receive any scholarships to help fund your studies?

Yes, I am sponsored by my country (Becas Chile). It is a competitive scholarship, and you apply once you are already accepted in the program.

3. What was your favourite thing about the University?

My favourite thing about the UofA and my faculty are the facilities we have to study and do our research, and the friendly environment I have felt anywhere I go.

4. How was your experience as an International Student?

It has been the best experience of my life, the best decision I could ever make. I love how multicultural Canada is. I have met people from all over the world, and that is such an enriching experience. I have grown as a professional, but also I have matured.

5. How was student life like on and off-campus?

On campus, you have a lot to do, it is super green and we have amazing libraries to study and work. There are so many student groups that there is something different to do every day. Edmonton is a beautiful place, it is not a crowded city, and I enjoy that, people are friendly and polite. You can get around quickly in the city by bus, walking, riding a bike. There are so many places to try different food and the parks where you can chill on a summer evening. I love Edmonton’s nature, and it looks different in all seasons. I love running, so I have enjoyed the city a lot.

6. Any advice for future candidates that would like to come to Canada to do their graduate studies?

Pursue your goals, and you will find the way. I found it essential to recognize what I was looking for, as grad studies are like a full-time job, you have to enjoy what you are doing, your area of research. Embrace the challenges, and you will have satisfaction at the end. Canada is a beautiful country, and it has several high-quality universities where to study. It depends on the province, but do not be afraid of winter, it has its beauty.

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Carla Abarca Segura

Chile

PhD in Chemical Engineering – McMaster University

1. Where are you from?

I’m from La Florida, Santiago, Chile. I studied my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at McMaster University, and previous to that, I did my Bachelor in Industrial Chemistry at Universidad Católica de Chile. I was always captivated by Canada’s fame of being “The Good Neighbor” and one of the best places to live. Since day one, I knew Canada was a beautiful country, and I felt proud and happy to had the opportunity to start the next chapter of my life in this diverse, tolerant, and open-minded country.

2. Why McMaster?

My road to McMaster U. started when I was finishing up my Bachelor Thesis, and I started working at BASF (a German chemical company). My mentor, a leading scientist at BASF US at the time, motivated me to study in Canada and gave me some recommendations for Universities, among them McMaster, his Ph.D. alma mater.

He introduced me to Dr. Robert Pelton, my supervisor, a distinguished Chemist in the paper industry that worked in Chemical Engineering. I got captivated by his research topics, collaboration with Industry and background. Then, I didn’t doubt he was the best fit for what I wanted to study, applied chemistry to Industry and daily life.

3. Did you receive any scholarships to help fund your studies?

I applied to Becas Chile – Equal of opportunities scholarship, one year before I got to Canada. Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to improve my English, prepare my University applications, and to be successful at the Ph.D. path.

3.1. If so, can you tell us more about the scholarship you received?

At the time, this scholarship given by the Chilean government allowed their scholar holders to level their English before and during their applications to the Universities also helped them with the fees to apply for the English course, tuition, living expenses, and medical insurance. However, this scholarship has quite a strict retribution policy, in which the scholar holders have to pay back the award by coming back to live in Chile, and that is the only way to “reattribute” to the government. Some Chilean graduate students are working hard to make this contribution more flexible since research, knowledge transfer and collaboration with the government can be done from anywhere in the world.

4. What did you enjoy most about McMaster?

McMaster University has a lot of attractive characteristics: it has an integrated layout that allows you to meet people from different faculties and disciplines in a beautiful, green and intelligent environment; it has a great student community with many activities, sports and clubs to explore your interests beyond your studies, such as the Latin American club, graduate societies, soccer tournaments, and dancing classes; and it has extensive partnerships with The Industry for fostering collaboration and applied research.

5. How was your experience as an International Student?

In the beginning, I was a little frightened to find myself alone in a new country and learning a new language. Still, fortunately, soon enough, I met beautiful people and made new great friends, I started volunteering in different societies and clubs, and Canada became my second home.

6. To date, what professional opportunities has this degree brought to you?

During my studies, I had the opportunity to work with one of the biggest Nickel producers in the world, and my supervisor supported me to attend several conferences and seminars in the field – Chemistry, Polymer Science, Mining and Chemical Engineering. Also, my extracurricular activities, such as Redicec (Chile – Canada Research Network) and EGS (Engineering Graduate Society), allowed me to network and developed collaboration ties with other researchers and colleagues in disciplines beyond Chemical Engineering, such as science public policy, administration, and social science.

All these opportunities boosted my resume to work in Industries that need a strong technical background but also excellent people skills. Thanks to this journey, I’m finding my passion for business development, mineral exploration, and geochemical analysis.

7. Any advice for future candidates that would like to come to Canada to do their graduate studies?

The most important advice I can give is to reach out to people all the time when you feel good and happy as well as when you feel lonely and sad. I was able to build deep relationships by joining and co-founding several clubs and organizations of my interest (in my case, Latin culture, dancing, and Chilean connections for fostering knowledge and researchers’ mobility). You need to make a new home from scratch, and I’m not talking about material things but a community; people that make you feel you belong to this new, unknown and exciting place that will now be your new home for the years to come.

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Claudio Jaramillo

Chile

PhD in Language and Literacies – University of Toronto.

I am a Chilean English teacher (EFL) with a MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación. I have 15 years of experience as an educator and have worked in public policy design for the Curriculum and Assessment unit of Chile’s Ministry of Education.

In 2018, I was granted a Becas Chile scholarship by CONYCIT to pursue studies at the University of Toronto. I am currently pursuing my PhD in the Language and Literacies program. My work, nearly half-way through, frames and roots on critical pedagogy, specifically on the ways the EFL hidden curriculum is reflected in the pedagogical experiences of a group of secondary teachers and their students in suburban contexts within Chile’s education landscapes.

Connecting with people from, literally, all over the world has been extraordinarily remarkable. That has been my greatest experience so far. I have learned that we all experience a similar journey, regardless of our diverse backgrounds.

At U of T, I found a space in which autonomy, reflection, discussion, and sharing are vast. My faculty, in particular, provides tremendous support; my colleagues build and strengthen my own research ideas. Without them, none of this would be happening. This happened to be a pivotal axis in the foundational stages of my academic journey.

Building a life with my wife here in Toronto is an adventure. The university is located centrally, which makes life easier and accessible. The campus is amazing, full of green spaces, integrated into the busy and multicultural vibe of the city. This is a great place to spend your graduate studies. I know you will find it enriching in various forms.

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Valentina Castillo

Chile

Masters of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management – University of Waterloo

Vine a Waterloo primero con una Working Holiday Visa. Durante mi estadía conocí a Dr. Amelia Clarke, quien es mi supervisora ahora. Ella me ofreció trabajar con como asistente de investigación y seguir la investigación a través del programa de magíster. La facultad de medioambiente en UW es la más grande de Canadá, y una de las más prestigiosa. La universidad ha adoptado los objetivos de desarrollo sustentables, por lo tanto, sabía que el trabajo que realizaría durante mis estudios estarían alineados a estos objetivos. Además, quería que mi trabajo tuviese impacto no solo en el área académica, sino que también a la comunidad en la que participo. Esto último me lo ha brindado la universidad, a través de su estrecha relación con la comunidad en Waterloo, Canadá y el mundo.

He tenido mucha suerte como estudiante internacional. Canadá, y en particular Waterloo, es un lugar muy diverso, lleno de gente de todos lados del mundo, por lo que me siento en casa constantemente. Tengo una red importante de apoyo, lo que incluye mis amigos y mi supervisora. La vida dentro de campus es muy dinámica; hay siempre actividades que ayudan a tu desarrollo personal y que permiten conectar con la comunidad universitaria. La vida fuera de campus es un poco distinta; Waterloo es una ciudad de 150,000 habitantes, de los cuales la mayoría son estudiantes. Entonces, el ambiente en el que uno se desenvuelve es más bien pequeño. En particular, a mí me encanta. Es una ciudad chica, estás a 20 minutos en cualquier lado, puedes caminar a todas partes, y 15 minutos en auto estás en el campo o en parques.

Mi consejo para los candidatos que quieran venir a Canadá es que aprovechen todas las oportunidades que hay acá. En Canadá hay muchos recursos para investigación, lo que es muy importante para quienes seguimos carreras de posgrado en el área de investigación. Les recomiendo que conecten con la comunidad en la que están, y que formen un buen grupo de apoyo para que puedan sobrellevar el tiempo lejos de casa.

 

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Rodrigo Becerra

Chile

PhD Linguistics – University of Alberta

Soy estudiante de doctorado en la Universidad de Alberta y mi experiencia ha sido excelente. Es una gran universidad, con acceso a muchos recursos, líder en investigación, y con una comunidad académica muy activa e internacional. Desde el punto de vista social y familiar ha sido también una tremenda experiencia. La vida estudiantil es multicultural, plural y muy nutrida, y la universidad está muy integrada a la ciudad, Edmonton. Me vine con mi familia y vivimos en una residencia de la Universidad, que es muy diversa y acogedora. Sin lugar a dudas, estamos disfrutando de nuestra nueva vida, del entorno y de las actividades, ¡incluyendo las muchas posibilidades que ofrece la cultura de invierno!

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