Before coming to Canada, I was a very introverted and shy 18-year-old. That’s why my family was so concerned when I first came here.
Coming to Canada, to Sheridan, wasn’t in my plans at all.
Looking back, I don’t know how it happened really, but I started researching places to study abroad. A really, really good friend of mine was studying at Sheridan, and he told me “This is the best college you can choose. You will feel good, you won’t feel lonely.”
Now, my whole life revolves around Sheridan.
It started in 2015 when I moved here from India to start my two-year business diploma program. I guess I just loved Sheridan so much that I switched into the three-year program.
I really wanted to experience Sheridan outside of the classroom, too, so I got really involved with clubs and associations. I was president of the International Student Association club for two years while simultaneously running the Sheridan Accounting and Finance club. I got to organize events like Sheridan’s Got Talent and the International Student Orientation.
It helped me network and make new friends, even though I barely participated the first month. A lot of the activities are designed to help get you out of your bubble and I really needed that.
Doing things outside of class is really important for international students because sometimes we lack that feeling of belonging. Coming to a new country, with a new language and a new culture, it’s really hard. Making those new friends and
connections definitely makes the journey more enjoyable and a lot more memorable.
If you’re an international student, take advantage of the clubs and associations. They will help you get that overall experience of Sheridan life and feel connected to the Sheridan community, which is so diverse.
In 2017, I got the opportunity to work as a peer mentor with Sheridan at their International Centre, and after I graduated in 2018, they offered me a part-time position. I was actually sad to be graduating because I wouldn’t be part of the Sheridan community anymore, so when they offered me the job I didn’t think twice before accepting.
In 2021, I was offered a full-time position as an International Service Coordinator and have been working full-time with Sheridan since then.
I love working at the International Centre. I have a soft spot for it because I’ve been working there for so long, but also because I can relate to the students. I’ve been in their shoes.
The first two to four months after moving to Canada, those were the hardest.
India is very different, culturally and educationally. We are more focused on studying from textbooks. The technology factor was hard to adapt to. I didn’t even know how to open Microsoft Word when I started. We also don’t have as much practical work. Here, you can’t sit back and wait; you have to do presentations, you have to work in groups, you have to collaborate.
Back home we also don’t usually work until we’re like 28 or 29, so that was a big shift coming to Canada. You have to work. Living here is expensive. Tuition is expensive, rent is expensive, bus passes, food, your phone. It was hard at the beginning to find that balance between school and work. I was often exhausted, but it got better.
Working gives you good hands-on experience, but it still took time to get used to it.
My family, especially my dad, has been really supportive. They always made sure they were available to talk despite the big time difference. They called me every day and made me feel like I was still near them.
I don’t think I would have survived that many years on my own if I didn’t have their support. Whatever I’ve achieved, whatever I’m planning on achieving, whatever I am right now, I really owe to them.
I wanted to go back to school to get my Bachelor’s degree. I graduated with honours, so I had a lot of options to choose from. My friends said I should apply to Ryerson or U of T, but I had been so connected to Sheridan for the last seven years that I knew in my heart I wanted to come back to Sheridan as a student. I wanted to live my Sheridan life again, to learn and experience new things in this institution I have become so emotionally attached to.
In September, I started my full-time studies while still working full-time at the International Centre. It’s definitely hard to manage both. Some days I feel like quitting, but then I help an international student get through a problem and I forget my own stress. It makes me want to strive for more, to do better.
It’s funny to think about how introverted I used to be. Now, talking, public speaking, giving presentations, it’s what I enjoy most. It’s been a long journey, but I’m so thankful to have lived so many lives at Sheridan and that I have so many more to look forward to.
--Sparshi Kehar, International Service Coordinator, BBA Accounting
(Interviewed and written up by Eugénie Szwalek)