As a student who has just returned from a semester long exchange in Scotland, I’d grown familiar with the ISSO staff. Oddly enough, I’d become friendlier with the staff members than other students who actually went on exchange. In the process of going on my exchange, I was in the ISSO frequently asking questions and mildly freaking out about administrative issues with my host institution, so I became a familiar face with some of the staff.
When Peer Helper applications opened up in April, I made sure to apply for a position with the ISSO, seeing as in the upcoming school year, I’d be back at Carleton and have the ability to relate and connect with international and exchange students.
Now, four months into my position with the ISSO, I’ve helped students integrate into Ottawa, plan events, and dabbled in social media promotion. To top that off, I’ve met several other students who went on exchange this past year —in fact, the majority of the team I work with was in Europe for the past academic year — and its been a constant bonding session over the poor budget airlines and historic, yet typical, European charm and architecture.
Being able to immerse myself in an office that treasures diversity and an openness to cultures has been eye-opening and refreshing. It has made me think of things when talking to people or planning events that I may not have thought of before my time here or my time on exchange.
I’ve been granted the fantastic opportunity to plan events with the ISSO this semester, from kayaking on Dow’s Lake, to the Remembrance Day Ceremony, to many more in the upcoming semester. This has allowed me to not only become acquainted with International and exchange students, but also gain friendships and insight to their cultures.
The students I’ve met this past semester seem to love Ottawa, and it’s made me realize that I’ve (probably) taken this city for granted; when students tell me what they love about it and what makes it so different, I realize that it’s not all that boring. Since I got back, I’ve been constantly shooting it down in comparison to the other cities I’ve traveled, but seeing it from another perspective, I’ve come to see that my city — my home — is actually pretty cool.
Being a student staff member with the ISSO has been rewarding, to say the least. I’ve helped students who have just come to Canada, I’ve helped parents who were dropping off their sons and daughters, and I’ve made numerous fantastic connections in the process; and as a student who’s graduating soon — connections are key.
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