International Student @ HMC - Ashleigh Grey
I’m Ashleigh Grey, I’m in the Human resource management BBA Program at HMC. I’ll never forget the day that I moved here because it was 2 days after my birthday: August 23rd, 2016. I live with my aunt and my older cousin who attends school at University of Toronto.
Why did you choose your program?
I’m a people person. I love working with people, helping people, volunteering, it’s just like people make me happy. I'm all about: happiness, productivity, and positivity. I don't want to just be like an HR manager that’s like, “Oh yeah, make sure you're working hard,” I want to be the one to ask, “oh yeah how’s your family doing?” and “how are you today?” Y’know like… you may think that simple questions like that are annoying people, or you're not making a difference, but a simple “how are you today?” or a small joke can really make someone's day and really make a difference in how they operate in that one day. To me productivity and efficiency are important, but humanity matters more. I don't think that someone can be efficient and productive if they are sad or if they feel down.
What are your goals and aspirations?
I don’t want to just be a regular immigrant who comes and gets a good job and does well. I want to really make a difference, not just in my work environment, but in society; like to be a real valuable part of society. I really aim to make a difference in people's life.
Did you face any difficulties moving here?
The change of environment that has to be the biggest one. I was settled in Jamaica i spent 18 years of my life there, when you leave home, you leave your immediate family, your friends you leave almost everything behind. you‘re coming here and you’re unsure of how you fit in and even how you make friends, and when you look back sometimes you question, “why did I leave?”. I didn't want to be here. It’s hard to make friends because you have so many different classes with so many different people, it’s like, “okay how do I build steady friendships?”
Did you have any Self Doubt?
I was insecure about the education system. In Jamaica I did really well in school, and transitioning to a new system, you have your doubts, “will my papers be as good? Will the teachers think I’m smart?” - And it's fun because even in my course here, I have teachers emailing me saying that it was so great to have you in my class. Living in Canada is expensive. Tuition alone is around $16 000 a year. So for me to come here and not do well in school, or not get settled in; it’s a lot of pressure. There are external pressures as well: there’s trying to build friendships, there's trying to get settled in, there's trying to do well in school despite the difference with this education system and Jamaica's. I can tell you for one, my old high school in Jamaica is not even half the size of this building… I was the student council president there … so almost everyone knew me including the principal and everyone -- so like walking around, I felt at home, but here - I got lost so many times
I paid attention to the school system a lot - in Jamaica its one final exam, you either pass or fail it, you would have to do it again - and doing it again means that you have to wait the whole year to do it again. Here it’s not like they're giving you one exam and its other pass or fail, everything you do for that specific course within the semester counts towards your final grade.
What do you miss the most about back home? Any siblings?
I definitely miss my family and my friends. My friends are like family they're always at my house. It’s hard moving away from genuine relationships because you never know if you can find that somewhere else.
Tell a story of your favourite memory from you coming here?
My entire process of coming here was two weeks of crying [laughs] The moment I got my student visa, it was tears, my friends were crying, my mom started crying, and my dad started crying -- like they wanted me to come, but I guess the reality hit them. However, once I got here I created some really great memories with the friends that I made here.
Do you intend on moving to Canada or moving back?
If I get a good job here then I will stay, however I do have plans of at least try to get my family/friends here with me. You don't want to be in the second largest country alone.
If you could go back in time advice?
Stop being so scared… like I had one really bad break down and now I look at it, why I was even scared. As soon as I got back from visiting Jamaica, my friends were at my house and they took me out... they were like, omg we missed you. Being there made me realize how much I have here and being here shows me how much I have there. I feel really fortunate and grateful; it’s like I have two homes.
What's your favourite thing about Canadian culture?
It can't be poutine [laughs] I like it, but my favourite thing is definitely the people; the diversity. Being here I meet so many different people, I have a friend from Uganda, I have a friend from India, China, Poland, the Philippines, and etc. It's like I know people from all over the world. I know if I had stayed in Jamaica I wouldn’t have gotten that type of exposure.