International friends are some of the best friends that you could ever make. Meeting new people from different countries is an amazing experience that will influence your life and your international friends’ lives forever and I can guarantee that it is one of the best things that will ever happen to you and your international friends. As part of the BCHFS Alumni we focus on culture and heritage. Meeting new people from other countries is a very fun way to learn about different cultures and their diverse history. By becoming friends with international students you can both learn so much and take part in a rich cultural exchange.

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There are so many great reasons why you should befriend international students:

  • Having a Canadian friend is really nice for them. Imagine going to a completely new country where the language spoken isn’t your first language. You’re all alone and you’re staying with this new host family you’ve never met before. Then you attend a school very different from yours filled with teenagers who already have their own friends. I bet that you would feel nervous and shy, and that a friendly “hello” would be appreciated. It’s really nice to be friendly and inclusive to new people. It makes them feel welcome and happy. I know it would’ve made my day.
  • In other countries the culture and whole atmosphere is quite different from here. From being friends with people from Germany, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Colombia, Mexico, and Belgium I have learned so much about the world. I have learned about school, the landscape, activities, and lives in general. It’s so interesting to discover how different life is everywhere else and I really value this new information and these ideas. In turn, international students learn so much from you. I’ve noticed that most international students tend to hang out with other international students, particularly others from their own countries. When this happens they don’t get to experience real “Canadian youth culture” so I think they would appreciate it more when they get the “whole” fun experience.
  • The cultural exchange that occurs between an International-Canadian friendship is so valuable. I’ve experienced so many new things because of my international friends. I’ve learned a bit of German, Portuguese, Japanese, Czech, and Italian, and have improved my French. I’ve also tasted Brazilian food and German cookies. And I must say, Brazilian food is delicious and traditional German Christmas cookies are yummy!
  • If you do future traveling you may have a place to stay. I will guarantee you that you will want to visit your friends’ countries. I learned so much and heard lots about where my friends come from and I will definitely see those places and visit my friends!
  • You get to see your home in a whole new way, as they do. Since becoming friends with international students, I have rediscovered the beauty of Vancouver and learned so much more about my city. I’ve learned to appreciate the elegance and diversity of my city and realized how lucky I am to live here.

This exchange program is one of the best opportunities for both international and Canadian students to meet new people who will become friends for life. At my school, roughly 100 students arrive to learn English and to experience Canadian school and life throughout each school year. In just two years I’ve met so many people, and became close friends with eight of them.

Last year, in grade ten, I became best friends with three amazing people. I have wonderful memories of our times together that I will never forget.

This year, I met new people from the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and Belgium and became really close friends with lots of them. I go skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, rowing, and hiking with them, among various other activities. Over winter break I invited four of my new international friends over to my house one evening to watch a Christmas movie, visit, and play some games. It was amazing because in one room there were five countries: Germany, Brazil, Italy, Canada, and South Korea. We ate East Indian pakoras, Polish pierogies, Swiss chocolate fondue, and Scottish shortbread and Canadian chocolate chip cookies. It was a super fun, extremely multicultural evening.

The time that international students spend here in Canada is relatively short, but during that time you will experience invaluable moments and receive memories that you will cherish forever. On Monday I said goodbye to a friend from Brazil and in just a few days I will have to say goodbye to my German friend as well. It’s always sad when you have to say goodbye, but I believe that the farewell is only temporary because I know I will see my friends again.

Becoming friends with international students is one of the best things that you could ever do. It’s such an amazing experience that will enrich your life and your new friends’ lives and the bond that is created between you is very strong and the memories are unforgettable.

By Siobhan

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