Archive for June 2014

Now What?

As summer approaches, another year of school has ended. Some of you are probably getting ready for a trip somewhere else and enjoy the heat. Some of you might be starting to wonder what is waiting for you after summer and where you are heading to and some are still probably looking for signs that will take you to the right path.

I can still remember the summer I had after my high school graduation. It was both exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting because I was finally out of high school and it was the first summer that I finally landed a job. Scary because I wasn’t really sure what I would be doing after summer. It is the time where we start to think more about our future and start making ‘adult’ decisions.

What shall I pursue?

Which college/university will I apply to?

How do I sign up for classes?

Will I make any friends?

How will I be able to pay for my tuition fee?

How do I apply for student loans?

Who will I speak to about my concerns?

Some of you are probably asking the same questions above. It is overwhelming and it somehow feels like you’ll never get to where you want to be because of all these processes that you need to take care of before you actually get there. In other words, it’s like going sky diving and realizing that you forgot to put on your parachute.

Just kidding. It’s not that scary.

For us immigrants, it might be a completely different process than for those who were born in this country or have been here a lot longer than when they started high school. Some of you might have to go to adult school to complete your credits from high school, some might have to upgrade in order to take college level classes, some might have to take additional classes for specific programs that have prerequisites, and some have yet to decide what it is that they really want to pursue now that high school has ended.

I am not an expert but as an immigrant who has gone through the same situation, here is a three-step advice that might help you get started and less scared of what future holds.

1. Make a list. 

Make a list of your goals, interests and possible career plan. It doesn’t have to be an intricate and complete list. A simple, abstract one will suffice. It can be as simple as putting your interests and checking out the ones that you are most passionate about and would not actually mind furthering your knowledge about that specific subject area. It can be a list of the colleges you wish to attend to. It can also be a list of your simple everyday ‘to-do’ list. Making a list will help you to look forward for something and get you inspired to keep going.

2. Research.

I am pretty sure that you are all familiar how internet works and the great thing about it is that it is more than just social networking sites and a place to watch cat videos. Everything that you need to know about applying for college is sitting somewhere around the interwebs. Remember the list I mentioned earlier? That list will now come in handy. You can start by searching about a specific interest of yours. For example, I am interested in Psychology so I searched about the career areas, specializations and pretty much everything that there is to know about the field. Then, I searched for colleges that offer the program and then the requirements that I need in order to get into the program. Yet, here’s another tip, when you do a lot of research and you gather a lot of information it can be quite overwhelming and when that happens, I suggest that you take a deep breath and stop searching. Remember the list? Now is the time to take a pen and paper out and make a list again. This time, list the questions that you have in mind or just simply write down your thoughts about the whole research. This will help you map out a plan and specify the things that need to be done.

3. Email. Call. Make an Appointment.

I know this part is a lot more challenging than the previous ones but treat this as an experience and a way for you to step up your game and put your foot forward one step at a time. Most of the colleges and universities offer assessment and counselling for students who wish to pursue their post-secondary education in their respective institutions. Talking to someone about your concerns will be helpful not only to help you get started but to learn and understand more about the processes with regards to your academic career. If you are not comfortable going alone, ask your parents or older siblings to help you out. If that doesn’t work out for you, you can still go back to researching. This time, do your research in the college’s website. List the things and questions that you are unable to find answers to and then call, email, or make an appointment with the school you are interested in going.

I know that the three steps require effort and a lot of thinking. But I do hope that it will help you get started and figure out where you are heading or at least, inspire you to not give up just yet. Think of it as one item on the list that you can cross off in order to get where you want to be. Just take a deep breath and get on to work because I guarantee you, a year or two from now, you’ll be surprised how far you are from where you started.  And one last thing,

Don’t be scared.

Because nothing is scarier than knowing that you let an opportunity and a chance passed by without you doing anything to grab and hold on to it. And even if you are, scared, just know that we’ll be at the sidelines rooting for you.

- Janine

The Language Barrier

Before moving to Canada, one of the things that I feared the most was speaking the English language. I mean, I was not entirely unfamiliar with the English language since I had studied it in school. In the Philippines, students are taught English from kindergarten up until college. Despite having had learned English in school, I was scared and terrified by the fact that I would be speaking full English in conversations. As part of my not-so-pretty human nature, I don’t fancy to look stupid. I did not want people to think I was not smart, and that was my biggest mistake.

As a Filipino, I would say it is part of our culture that we laugh at everything. Man, the way we laugh at everything. If you mispronounce an English word, laughter immediately ensues (especially if you mix up the “p” and “f”, “o” and “u”, or “i” and “e” sounds). Though it is merely for fun, it is still pretty embarrassing to be laughed at. Because of this mentality, I had a notion that other people would look down at me or laugh at me at my poor communication skills. I did not want to be laughed at because of my English skills—whether it may be because of my pronunciation, accent, or grammar.
That was where my mistake was made.

I was too hard on myself. I forgot that I was at square one. I am not a superhuman. I am not perfect and I commit mistakes. Besides, not all people are cruel. To think that they would belittle me is just plain petty and narrow-minded of me.

I spent my first two weeks not talking to other people, nervous about doing activities that involved interacting with people such as ordering at the cashier, interacting with salespersons, and asking for directions. I tried not to converse with anyone.

Thankfully, I learned how to cope. My confidence grew each day and having friends to converse with helps alongside watching movies, reading books and.. watching movies. Wait, I have already said that. Seriously though, watch movies and even turn the subtitles on. You might be surprised to find yourself using the same catchphrases and comebacks that they used.

So go on! Do not be afraid (especially not for the same reasons that I had), do not be shy, and be proactive!



“Here's the thing about mistakes: Sometimes, even when you know something’s a mistake, you gotta make it anyway.” - Ted Mosby 
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Vancouver Immigrant Youth (VANITY) Blog is an online space made for youth, by youth. Here, you will find stories and experiences written by youth immigrants who once felt how challenging it was to be a newcomer in Vancouver. If you are a newcomer in Vancouver (or anywhere in Canada), we hope to give you all the resources you need to feel comfortable in this country. We hope to give you tips and advices on how we adjusted to our lives here as youth immigrants. Through this site, we want to empower you to bring out your full potential.





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