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A day in the life of an ASL Studies student

Three ASL students chatting at Ivany Campus.
Read about a typical day in the life of an ASL Studies student Ivany Campus.

My name is Hadley Brooks-Joiner, and I'm a graduate of the American Sign Language (ASL) Studies program at Ivany Campus. If you're wondering what to expect when you start the program, here’s a peek at what a day in the life of an American Sign Language (ASL) Studies student is like.

I wake up in Halifax, do my morning routine, and go to catch the bus. My bus takes me downtown, just a few minutes away from the ferry terminal. At the ferry terminal, I hop on the Woodside ferry and enjoy the ride. Then, a 10-minute walk on a paved path along the Dartmouth waterfront brings me to the campus’s doors.

If the ferry isn’t running, which rarely happens, I take a bus to Dartmouth or ask a classmate for a drive. There is onsite and offsite parking at Ivany Campus, but since I don’t drive, the ferry is my preferred method of transportation.

Before taking the program, my experience with Deaf community, culture, and language was limited, and to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But, I was excited to learn - and the courses I took helped me build the skills I needed to thrive within the Deaf community.

The classes I have day-to-day vary, but overall, I'm learning how to improve my language and communication skills, my understanding of Deaf history and culture, and my ability to be a strong ally for the Deaf community. You can read about the full course.

The majority of my teachers are Deaf. At first, this made me nervous. How would it effect my learning? What if I couldn’t understand them? Or what if they couldn’t understand me? But I quickly learn it doesn’t negatively affect my learning, it strengthens it. Their connection to Deaf culture means I’m gaining an authentic learning experience, and all my teachers are passionate about students gaining the skills needed to succeed.

My class size is small, which makes it easy to interact with everyone and create new friendships. Making these connections with my classmates also makes my learning experience stronger, because we collaborate on projects and help each other understand course materials.

I love how the program uses hands-on learning experiences. Myself and my classmates have hosted multiple events for the Deaf community, like “Sign and Dine”, where community members and Deaf Studies students go out for a meal and chat about anything and everything. I sometimes get nervous about these types of events because I worry about my signing abilities, but everyone in the community I interact with is excited that I want to learn their language and culture, and they do their best to help me when I don’t know a certain sign or need them to slow down their signing so I can understand better.

Learning a new language and culture can be difficult, and it requires time and effort. The out-of-classroom experiences allow me to strengthen my connections to my classmates and to the Deaf community. Being able to practice my signing in a way that doesn’t feel like homework is an added bonus.

I genuinely love coming to school because Ivany Campus is stunning. It has an open and bright design and a school environment that is lively and diverse. Between classes my favourite place to do work or chat with friends is along the windows facing the harbour. The sunshine, the view, and the atmosphere create the perfect environment for me to focus or relax.

In my schedule, there’s a lunch break. The cafeteria has lots of different choices like:

  • Pizza by design
  • Panini wraps
  • Chef’s table
  • The Harbourview grill
  • Grab ‘n’ go
  • Just Us! Beverages

There’s even a Tim Hortons right on campus to buy my favourite food and beverages. Also, there’s a plaza a short walk from the campus with different shops and restaurants that I sometimes go to with classmates. Today I brought my lunch, and I use the microwaves available in the cafeteria to heat it up.

After lunch, I head to my afternoon classes. We wrap up and I walk back along the paved path to the Woodside ferry terminal. I take the same journey home that I used to get to school, and finally, flop on my couch. I chat with my roommates about the day and pull out my planner to organize myself for tomorrow.

That’s it! A day in my life as an American Sign Language (ASL) Studies student. I hope reading this gives you a better understanding of what your days will look like when you’re in the program. I found my experience in the ASL Studies program to be very rewarding, and I hope you do as well.