More than a decade ago, I moved to Canada from Bangladesh as an international student. Now, I am a student affairs professional supporting international students’ personal and professional development.
When I came to Canada, I had lots of hair – so much that I could have been a poster boy for shampoo/conditioner ads. Now, I am bald. I guess you could say my life in Canada has been full of transformative experiences and learning. I have shifted my ideas, allowed for personal growth by engaging with diverse people, and celebrated changes in life.
In this post, I thought I’d share 13 lessons I have learned about life in the last 13 years of studying in Canada and working in student affairs:
Medium Double Double is not a HOT SUGARY Juice.
Cultural nuances are powerful. Learning language can only give you half of the experience. Explore cultures with an open mind. Every experience, good and challenging, will enrich your learning.
Failure is better than running away and accepting failure is not running away.
A true leader stays strong during challenging times. Leaders accept the responsibility of their actions and grow by learning from their failures.
It is okay to be you and when you can, make space for others.
There is nothing wrong with being authentic to yourself and presenting your whole self to others. It is important to remember that we are not alone in our journey. When we can, we must make space for others so that they are comfortable in their journey with us.
Polite and friendly are two distinct concepts.
Yes! Polite and friendly should not be used interchangeably.
Relationships – between two people or two nations – must be nurtured.
Never take your relationship with others for granted. All relationships, old and new, require your love and care to grow and remain steady.
We all need help. Get the help you need.
We, homo-sapiens, are social animals. From the dawn of human civilization, we have needed each other. Seeking help from others is human.
Confidence and entitlement are not the same thing.
At times, we confuse entitlement with confidence. A confident person sees life through abundance not vacuum. An entitled person, however, demands power and privilege without reflecting on the impact of their actions.
Fall in love.
Fall in love with the trees, with the moon, with the sky and with the wind. Don’t look at the clock and let the sound of tick-tick-tick, stop you.
Warmth, empathy and kindness are important competencies for student affairs professionals.
Sadly, none of the above can be taught. Fortunately, you can acquire these competencies through self-reflection.
Grit, Optimism, Mindfulness, Compassion and Gratitude are five factors of resiliency.
By practicing the five factors of resiliency you can live a more fulfilled life. One acquires the five factors through practice and reflection.
Internationalization is sexy. So is localization.
It is wonderful when our students are globally minded and seek foreign destinations for their learning and development. In my experience, students who are locally involved and active in their local communities also gain life changing lessons.
Losing is winning.
Challenging experiences without emotions is wisdom. There are moments in life when we lose, and that is OK. Every loss contains a lesson. Whenever we get to learn, we win.
We live in the Indigenous peoples’ land.
This land has Indigenous history. Honor the traditional land, peoples and traditions.
Life is what you make of it. Life in a foreign land is full of memorable experiences, wonderful connections, winning and learning. I celebrate my 13 year anniversary with a hope for new lessons from the University of Life.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Stacy Oliver-Sikorski on Professional Development