Thousands of international students at the University of Saskatchewan join those making their way back-to-school this week.
The school is hosting about 2,500 students from abroad this year.
Derek Tannis, manager of the U of S’s International Student and Study Abroad Centre said they’ve seen modest but consistent growth in the number of international students attending year-over-year.
He said China and India provide the lion’s share of foreign students, with Nigeria, Iran, Bangladesh and the United States being the other countries sending larger numbers of students.
He said the biggest individual group are those coming to the U of S to do post-graduate studies.
Tannis said the school puts a lot of effort into helping newcomers find housing and learn the basics of their new environment – including navigating the harsh Saskatchewan winter.
On top of administration’s work with international students, Tannis applauded the work of the students’ union and the Aboriginal Students Centre in helping people get acclimated. He said the student-run initiatives are especially helpful for fostering the social connections that help make living far from home more manageable.
Jada Williams is at the U of S studying environmental sustainability. She said she moved her young family from Detroit to pursue the degree.
Between summer festivals and walks along the riverfront pathways , she said she’s found plenty to love about Saskatoon. But, she still finds it tough raising kids so far from her home base.
“Being so far away from family. So when my little ones get sick, you know, I don’t have any support system,” she said.
Naomi Mumbi hails from Kenya, and also came to the U of S for a Ph.d. She said she did a previous degree in Minnesota, so she was at least prepared for the cold.
“But it’s always new to me. When winter hits and it’s -45 C, it’s always new to me,” she said.
Mumbi said developing a social circle is key when studying abroad.
“Building community and just making friends has been a good thing. And church for me, I’m a big church person,” she said.
Welcome Week activities run at the U of S until Friday. A special welcome for international students will run between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Arts and Sciences building.