Erica Paulo on Transferring Schools in Canada: Change the Plan but Not the Goal

Every hopeful international student brims with excitement and delight when they finally get that “Yes” for their student permit. After all their perseverance and efforts, the doors have finally opened for their Canadian dream. With this go signal, they happily pack their bags and embark on a journey that can change their lives forever. 

Steadfastly, international students start a whole new life in Canada. They experience a lot of first things: first time to get a job and work while studying, first time to be immersed in a multi-cultural environment, first time to be independent and make decisions entirely their own. If not their first time then it’s their first time again in a while, like going back to studying after so many years. Most of these things bring adrenaline to their veins and make their heart beat faster.  As exciting as all these things can be, even the brightest students eventually burn out. 

All the things you wished for suddenly become responsibilities that burden you, and more usual than not, a lot of other students just carry on with this baggage just for the sake of not starting over again. They bear with the situation, playing it by ear if they should just quit or not, but in turn, they get stuck in the situation longer than they have to be.

It may be unconventional, but a simple solution might just be to transfer schools. Contrary to popular opinion, just because one had to transfer schools does not mean they have failed on their first attempt. Rather these people are far more courageous in facing the reality of the problem and taking the initiative to change something without fear of having to start all over again. If you ask me, learning when to change the course of your direction is a determining factor of life that only a few sensible people can pull through. The ability to decide and take action lets you go further in life.  

Giving up the Good for Something Greater

Erica is no stranger to living abroad, in fact, she had already been working in Singapore for about 7 years before moving to Canada. She had to give up her good life in Singapore to work for a better future which she faithfully believes is in Canada. 

“I was a Front Desk Manager in a boutique hotel in Singapore. Canada is a highly diverse country that offers better quality education. I believe that this place is an excellent platform to further develop my knowledge and skills in tourism and hospitality. I specifically chose to study in Victoria, British Columbia, because I find this city relatively interesting from its notable attractions, cultures, and events, making it a significant tourist destination in Canada. I opted for my program because I could optimize my knowledge and skills in my career in tourism and hospitality after I finish my Master’s degree. It is relevant for me to further my studies in this field to equip myself with rewarding tools and techniques in my expertise. I have been in Canada for almost two months now. I will be honest that I am still adjusting to everything, especially the cold weather, English environment, and new culture. Being in a foreign land far from my family and friends sometimes feels lonely, but I know that this is just temporary.”

Not a Quitter, but a Fighter

“It has been eight years for me since I finished my bachelor’s degree in the Philippines. Honestly, I got overwhelmed with the level of education in the Master’s degree. It became difficult for me to transition from work-life to student life. It requires a lot of dedication and focus on research and assignments. Apparently, I realized that I was not ready to be in this program. I decided that I could still continue to study in Canada and maybe change the program and school instead. I am grateful to my agent for helping me figure out the following steps to do. 

“It still feels surreal whenever I think that I am already in Canada. Looking back from the time I started my application to become an international student, I can attest that it was not easy to come here. There were days that I wanted to give up, but when I finally stepped on its land, I realized that what makes my journey in Canada unique is the moment I choose to live here. I became more hopeful and began to dream more. I decided to stay out of my comfort zone and hope for a better future with my family. Therefore, having an optimistic mindset will lead to a joyful and prosperous life in Canada.”

The Turning Point

“Being an international student in Canada is already a privilege but it is sometimes challenging. My tip for any international student thinking of changing school or program is that there is always a solution to any problem. If you are not happy with where you are studying or what you are studying right now, you can find ways to change your school/program. What matters is that you follow your passion and have a broad interest in what you want to learn. One must have the courage to admit and accept yourself if you do not fit in your school/program. One thing that I learned from this experience is that I chose to be in a healthy mental state and to change the program that I feel I am more suitable for. Also, seek help from any educational consultant who can really give relevant advice to your next plan. I would not have done it without their assistance with my transfer. Since I already have my student permit and am already in Canada, no other new application was made in the IRCC. I just had to apply for a new program in a post-secondary school, pay for the first-semester tuition fee, get a new letter of acceptance and change the DLI school on the IRCC website. It was a straightforward process, and I did not encounter any problems.”

Change the Plan, Not the Goal

“When I planned to transfer to my school, I had to make sure that it was a designated learning institution and a post-graduate work permit eligible in Canada. Since there were only a few options of DLI and PGWP eligible schools in Victoria, BC., I had to consider moving to Vancouver, where there are many schools to choose from. However, there are also other things to consider, such as the availability of the program in the school for the next semester, the school requirements, and tuition fees. I also must maintain my full-time status as a student in Canada. Thus, I have to find an available program for the next intake. Otherwise, the IRCC might question my status and may have a problem later. The tuition fee in my new school is somehow similar to my previous school, which I did not have any issues with. I just had to accept that there will be no refund from the tuition that I paid in my previous school.

To anyone who plans to study in Canada is to always stick to your goals. Whatever struggles or problems that you may face along the way, always look back to your reasons for wanting to come here. Just keep the motivation alive and take little steps towards your goal, eventually, you will achieve it.”

Giving up on something does not always mean you are a quitter, it takes far braver people to go back to the start and begin again. It takes a lot of courage to admit something is just not right for you and you have to accept the fact that there are plenty of other ways to address the problem. If there is anything that we can all learn from Erica’s story, is to change the plan but never the goal. The road may not be what we have expected but remember,  there are multiple ways to get to the same destination. What matters is that we do not lose sight of the end goal. 

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One Comment

  1. Hi Ms Ann,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful feature in your magazine. It is a beautiful write up!

    Kind regards,

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