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International students share their stories

Canada is known for attracting students from all over the world.

Canada is known for being a destination for immigrants. And each year, hundreds of thousands of students come to study. At the end of 2021, there were 621,656 people on  study permits in the country. Canada is in third place among the most popular countries to study, behind the USA and UK. Canada attracts not only recent graduates, but also slightly older people, many of whom already have completed higher education in their home country.

Gustavo Hatschbach graduated in biology from a Brazilian university in 2013, then moved to Canada in 2017, when he was 27, to study in Toronto, and currently works in his area.

“I imagined that I would get better conditions here than in my country. Now I’m building a life here,” he explained. “Some people might be concerned about getting too old to start studying in a new country, but since Canada does not have any age limit for a study permit, I decided to come here. Now I’m on a work permit and I don’t imagine myself living anywhere else.”

The reasons that lead older students to decide to come and study in Canada vary. Diana Herrera, from the Mohawk Music program, came last year looking for a safe place to be herself.

Diana Herrera, from Colombia, studies music at Mohawk.

“As a LGBT person, some places are dangerous for people like me,” the 29-year-old student said. “Here you can know for sure that, regardless of your sexual orientation or anything like that, someone will care and someone will listen.”

Pedro Nemezio also came to Canada because the country is known for being receptive to immigrants, with a multi-cultural society and high quality of life. A former history teacher, the 27-year-old student from Recife, Brazil, plans to keep working in his field.

“I have always worked with education. My plan here is to look for a teaching position that doesn’t require a four year certification. Perhaps teaching ESL, something to do with learning and education,” he said.

According to Nemezio, moving to another country and being a little bit older is not an issue.

“I think being older enables people to face this life-changing challenge under different lenses,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to be more in control of some aspects of your own journey. Having a wider array of life skills and previous experiences certainly helps when dealing with changes and unforeseen circumstances.”

“Even though I had a very privileged life back in Brazil, it feels like now I am playing the game in the easiest settings,” he continued. “It’s like this is some life simulation game, and some all-powerful overseer just lowered the difficulty of the game. Since I was able to deal with the same stuff under harsher circumstances back at home, this is so much more manageable in pretty much every aspect.”