International students face challenges with making friends

Students feel a lack of community, as international students face isolation

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By Joyce Liew

Langara College is a hard place to make friends for international students.

Simran Kaur, an international student from India studying arts at Langara, said she wanted to make friends with local students and to learn about their cultures but they did not show much interest.

“They [local students] only want to share more about the academic, conversations not about personal and other factor,” Kaur said.

Some people point to the lack of student residences at Langara and places to socialize for the difficulty students face in getting to know one another.

Langara lacks social spaces

Gordon Roe, Langara anthropology instructor, said physical infrastructures at the college are disconnecting people.

“If I am taking one particular course, a set of courses, I am going to be on this building and I am not going to connect with the students at the other building. The cafeteria is one of the very few places that you can sit down.” Roe said. “I see people in little groups all over the place, but they are not random groups, they are organized groups.”

Similar cultures and experiences are not the only reason people bond, said Anthony Virdo, Langara student engagement centre coordinator.

“I also think that people have similar interests, similar goals, and those can be just as strong to gravitate people together,” Virdo said.

Building community

Virdo said it is easier to foster friendships when facilities like student residences and services like extended cafeterias and library hours are offered.

“There are people there that are not always just staying in the rooms and studying but going out to the library, to the cafeterias, to the local neighborhood to socialize,” Virdo said. “That builds community.”

Roe said students juggling work and studies make it hard to make friends.

“You can’t hang around because you just have to go to work,” Roe said.

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