“It is very difficult to come to a new country, in harsh weather conditions, adapt to the culture, adapt to food, and then find work,” says a student from India.
Ishaan Sachdeva took his mother’s advice and carefully considered his options before coming to Canada just after high school.
With the help of an in-house consulting firm in India, he reviewed the options for post-secondary learning and decided to choose Georgian College in Bari to engage in co-education outside the classroom.
The 22-year-old Georgian college business student said, “The next thing I knew was that I was here in Canada on my own. It was all completely new to me.”
He was 18 years old at the time.
Sachdeva is the new immigrant – Choose to set up a home in a new country by studying and earning his professional credentials here.
“You would have noticed a lot of young people coming to Canada who are in the same age group because there have been some changes over the years in the government’s immigration policy,” he explained.
The increase in immigration to Canada is partly attributable to the number of international students and young workers residing in Canada under the Federal Postgraduate Work Permit Program. The program allows people to come to Canada when they are younger and get their training and credentials here, get a job and qualify for permanent residence.
Georgian College hosts students from 85 different countries, although the vast majority, 80 percent, like Sachdeva, come from India. In the 2019-20 academic year, Georgia had 4,484 international students on its campuses in Barrie, Orelia, Owen Sound, South Georgia Bay (Collingwood), Midland and Orangeville.
The 4,600 international students expected for the current academic year represent about 39 percent of the college’s full-time student population. This is a big leap from 2015-16 when the Bari-based college enrolled 1,100 international students.
The Georgian estimates that 70 percent stay here after graduation, obtain work permits after graduation, and then apply for permanent residence.
Their path is often the same: they come for a two-year diploma, then they get a three-year work permit and during that time they apply for permanent residence. There are differences – Some come with their families or ask their families to follow them to Canada.
“Even during the pandemic, Canada remains the number one destination for students looking to study abroad,” said Kevin Weaver, Georgia College’s vice president of academics, adding that many are drawn to Barry and Simcoe County for its safety, friendliness and multicultural nature.
“We’ve moved away from urban Canada, so they offer a slightly different experience – What we’d call a little more than four seasons and a real Canadian experience.”
There are fewer this year because of the pandemic, so Weaver expects those numbers to increase.
The vast majority of international students studying in Georgia aim to obtain a post-graduate work permit once they obtain credentials and then apply for permanent residence.
Georgian College is also what attracted Arjun Batra and his entire family to Pari in 2005.
Batra, who is currently the president of the Georgian College Alumni Association, came to Bari from India with his family right after they graduated from high school, and graduated from the Automotive Technology Program in 2007. He got a job at Magna International immediately after graduating from school, but when he hit Stagnating, he was among the first to be abandoned and returned to tutoring, which served him well during his student years.
Batra went on to earn his undergraduate degree and then an MBA from Cornell Queen University while starting a private school in Brampton, in partnership with his mother, who works as a teacher. Their Doon School graduated 150 students last year and has expanded to include international students studying remotely.
Both Georgian graduates describe the need to network and develop a support system in their new communities. Both have led community initiatives that have earned them Newcomer Appreciation Awards in Simcoe County.
They noticed that different generations faced different challenges and found that integration into society was more difficult for their parents than it was for them and their siblings. So their families acted as a support network in the beginning.
Sachdeva was exposed to Western culture to family members who immigrated to the United States. He decided rather than pursue his education in India and then join the many contenders for the few jobs, that he would resettle in Canada where he saw greater stability.
Now, having successfully obtained a business diploma which had two business collaborations, he decided to stay in Georgian for a degree in leadership and management. He aims to graduate with honors with honors in 2023.
Throughout his time here, he was an active student and member of the community.
He is currently the Student Council President and works with international students and helps connect them with community support. He is also launching a non-profit organization to help newcomers settle into the community with housing and jobs.
“I hope to develop a more professional network for all the students we host in Bari…and we have one place where students can be helped with all the things they need in the community,” he said. The college does a really good job of supporting the students who are on campus. I really want to focus on the community part of things.”
his family – Both parents and younger brother – They followed him here and all four got residency as a family, which meant Sachdeva didn’t have to go through the immigration process alone.
He said that deep family ties prompted his family to catch up with him here. Now, having put their lives on hold in order to come to a new country, his parents must forge a new path.
“I faced challenges when I came as a student when I was very young. I was 18, and I was able to adapt to new situations because I was still learning. But when you come of age, it is very difficult to come to a new country, the weather is harsh, and adapt to Culture, adapt to food, and then look for work,” Sachdeva said.
In addition, work experience does not necessarily translate.
While his parents are working, the goal is likely to be to launch a family business. His father has a wholesale and retail business in India which is now run by his brother.
They have just bought cars and the next step is to buy a house.
Meanwhile, Batra describes the move here as a game-changer. Although he was brought up in a middle class family, his entire family found many opportunities and a higher standard of living than in India.
And although they brought some things with them that they enjoy from home – Like cricket.
Batra, who has recently married, is determined to embrace the Canadian lifestyle and has taken up alpine skiing. His goal is to improve his technique with lessons at Blue Mountain and back to the Rockies where he climbed Mount Norquay two years ago to try snowboarding.