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Learning online from Mexico

When Dafne Guerrero Álvarez applied to the Business Administration program at Pictou Campus in 2019, she had world travel on her mind.

It would be a full year before she could leave her home in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and join her aunt and uncle in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, but she could already envision all that her diploma would help her accomplish.

"I want to work in international community development – something that allows me to help in a substantial way," says Dafne, who plans use NSCC's articulation agreements with universities around the world to gain advanced standing in a degree program. "My diploma will help me complete a bachelor's degree, with a major in economics and a minor in international relations."

Plans interrupted

When the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the globe in early 2019, Dafne found herself unsure of what the future held. Across Canada, borders closed, quarantine measures broadened and study permit processing slowed. When colleges and universities ceased on-campus learning, many international students were left wondering if their educational plans abroad would come to fruition.

"Numb," she says of how she felt when she learned she wouldn't be heading to Canada and would instead be learning online. "A little bit of dread, too. There was so much uncertainty then, but I was still pretty excited to take my classes."

In the first few weeks of online classes, Dafne says that challenges with time zones, balancing a life in Mexico with a life in Nova Scotia and a lack of opportunities to forge friendships left her feeling disconnected from the College.

"It was a case of mental acrobatics at the beginning," she says.

International support

In time, Dafne says that thanks to ongoing support from her faculty, NSCC International and English as an Additional Language programming, she began to feel connected.

"NSCC did a good job of facilitating international student participation," says Dafne from her home in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas. "Even from far away, I feel like part of the community. The International Student Ambassadors facilitate webinars, events to get to know each other and cultural learning opportunities. I appreciate their commitment to supporting students so that they’re positioned to achieve their goals."

Dafne adds that there were some unexpected benefits too.

"The online format allowed me to join a couple of clubs that, if we were in person, I maybe wouldn't have joined – like Enactus. I don't have to account for getting from one meeting to another, and that means I can put more energy into each of the clubs I joined."

Despite her early challenges, Dafne says she continues to grow and improve as a learner and remains optimistic that her study permit application will be processed, and she can travel to Nova Scotia soon.

"It's weird," she says. "I've never been to Canada but miss it. I don't know if I'll ever be there in person, but I really hope I can."