Canada has increasingly become a global education destination as it enjoys a growing perception of a stable and immigrant friendly country. However, among a flood of international students cherishing a Canadian education dream, only those with strong financial resources can afford the highly expensive tuition costs. Tapping into their dotting parents’ deep pockets, students from China have made up a large portion of those who have gained coveted access to the Canadian education markets with a heavy price tag.
Since 2000, China has seen a rapid surge in international students studying in Canada, with the population climbing by over 500 per cent over the years. Through tuitions, accommodation and lifestyle expenses, Chinese students have injected a large amount of money into the Canadian economy. According to stats, in 2010, international students spent close to $8 billion in Canada, with thirty-seven per cent of the revenues coming from China and South Korea only.
Indeed, the bonanza of cash cows can spur the growth of Canadian economy and load hidden gems the government coffers. Unsurprisingly, the Liberal government has aggressively courted students from China, proclaiming they are the assets to the country and extremely valuable to Canada.
However, accompanying this massive capital flow is the foreign students’ cultural baggage that may not find its place in the merit based Canadian academic world. Media reports and anecdotal evidence paints a grim picture of this East Asian student demographic. While exceptions are abundant, many struggle in classrooms and fail to meet academic expectations. Faced with language and cultural barriers, they form their own social enclaves and are reluctant to integrate themselves into the Canadian university.
But apart from the inherent challenges, their lack of desire for success and ambitions to achieve has caused growing concerns. Moreover, their eagerness to embrace an extravagant lifestyle in Canadian learning environment by blowing their parent’s money away – from dressing in designer clothes to wearing expensive jewelries to driving sports cars -- has been increasingly despised and frowned upon by their Canadian counterparts – including those with a Chinese heritage.
My two cents on foreign students from China
Working as an ambassador for my school, I was helping a Chinese family take a tour and answer their questions about my program. After around 30 minutes into the tour, the mother asked, “So how do you like Canada?”. The question struck like a chord. Apparently, she was under the misconception that I was an international student from China. After hearing my response that I was a second generation Canadian and was born here, she immediately apologized by saying “I’m sorry dear you just looked like you had the money to study here.”
While I was overdressed that day, it seems as if that international students have created a brand image for themselves. Society notably distinguishes their life style, that being an affluent life style filled with luxury’s and riches, all at the expense of their parents. It gives off a vibe of entitlement and spoiled, as whenever they need something, its off to mom and dad.
Not every Chinese student is like this of course, but enough of the population behaves this way to create their own stigma. It’s not hard to spot them either. These are the kids that are only around 18-their mid 20’s who are driving Lamborghini’s, high-end Audi’s, BMWs, the list goes on. Not only that, they also dress in the most costly apparel to show off their brand name accessories.
Always with the newest gadget, accessories, etc, they have isolated themselves from the rest of society. They don’t have an interest in interacting with other students, whereas they tend to isolate themselves created their own ‘gang’ of international students. Secluded to their own group, they create an “affluent and prestigious” lifestyle that creates a negative image for international students, the spoiled and the lazy.
It isn’t cheap to be an international student. Tuition can cost up to double compared to Canadian students. Paying so much just for an undergraduate degree, you would think to work as hard as you can to make your moneys worth. However these students don’t see the value. Many don’t have a care in the world about their education abusing what should have been a hard-earned education system completely for granted.
This past year, I witnessed myself the lifestyle of these international students. Living in residence at university, two of my roommates were both international students coming from China to study abroad. One was in my year (first year) with the other being in third year.
Of the 8 months we lived together, I saw them probably for a total of 2 hours, the entire year, despite living under the same roof. Anytime I was home, they would isolate themselves to their room and refuse to talk to me and the other roommates. I’d occasionally see them go to the washroom and grab a drink, other than that I would never actually have a conversation with them.
Initially, since they were always secluded in their own room I thought they were studying all the time. As it turns out, both never studied once and occasionally skipped class. I didn’t find out until my final exam that my roommate was in the same lecture as me for four months. International students at my school pay sometimes even more than double, and that’s without residence and living expenses.
I would see them come home with new luxury’s, smoking outside throughout the night, and bringing in their other Chinese friends. Multiple times they had created a huge mess in our living space and refused to clean it up to the point my other roommates and I had to file a complaint and charge them each $200 in cleaning fees.
Given such an expensive and quality education system, what for me is filled with hard work and determination is disregarded and not even appreciated by these students. Lavished in gifts, refusing to participate with the Canadian culture and population, these students are no different than tourists. The time they study abroad in Canada, is just an all expenses paid vacation for these international students, compensated by their parents of course.
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