International Students
Stories from Our International Students

At College of the Rockies, our current and former International Students are doing some interesting things. Here are some of their stories!

Fernando Arteaga from Ecuador - Setting the bar

International student Patrick at Lake LouiseFernando Arteaga was born and raised in Ecuador where he had a budding career as a lawyer. Intrigued by the common law legal tradition in North America, he felt an urge learn more about it. Ecuador operates under a civil law tradition – meaning that, unlike Canada's common law tradition which relies primarily on precedents, they have comprehensive, continuously updated legal codes that specify which issues can be brought before a court, the procedure for dealing with each issue and the appropriate punishment.

Knowing he would need to improve his English skills to meet the academic standards of an English-speaking country, Fernando began to explore his educational options. Having heard great things about Canadian colleges and universities, he paid a visit to the Canadian consulate in search of additional information. In the end, he applied to two Canadian colleges – and College of the Rockies quickly responded back.

"It was impressive how the College provided me with all the information I needed- in my own language," he says. "By the time I was contacted by the other college, I had already made up my mind to attend College of the Rockies."

Initially, Fernando's plan was to complete his English Language program at the College, register for a Master's degree program and then return home to Ecuador. His time at the College changed that.

"My decision to attend College of the Rockies was the beginning of an exciting journey. It changed everything," he says. "At the College, because my instructors were so approachable, I spent many hours talking to them. At first we would talk about courses and classes but eventually some of my instructors became my mentors and friends."

His instructors were not the only ones to readily befriend Fernando. Though many of his classmates at the College had grown up in the area and were familiar with each other, they also were happy to include Fernando and others. "Contrary to what most people might think, I had no problem integrating into those groups," Fernando explains. "People assume that I had a hard time making friends but I immediately correct them and tell them what my experience was really like. I am still friends with my very first Canadian friend and we hang out as much as we can."

Though he easily made friends, Fernando did have to adjust to a very different lifestyle than he was accustomed to. Coming from a large city, he needed to adapt to the more rural and slow-paced lifestyle of the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. "Before the College, I loved buildings, malls and movies," he notes. "Now you have no idea how much I miss being so close to the Rocky Mountains or riding my bike to Jim Smith Lake and jumping into it."

After completing his English Language program, Fernando stayed at the College to complete a diploma in Criminal Justice. Wanting to give back to the College that gave him so much, he ran for and won the position of President of the Students' Association as well as a seat on the College's Board of Governors. "Before the College I did not care about being involved," he admits. "After my experience with the Students' Association and Board of Governors, I always try to be involved in different activities as much as I can."

After completing his diploma, Fernando worked in a variety of jobs, unable to say no to the many opportunities to grow personally and professionally available to him in Canada. Eventually, however, he was drawn back to the legal profession.

"I found it ironic at times that I decided to go back to school to study law again," he says. He completed the Masters of Laws program at the University of Calgary and applied for his reaccreditation to work as a lawyer in Canada.

Due to his past experience and education, he was given the option to challenge 10 courses. He passed all within a six month period of time and is now articling at Heming & Associates in Strathmore, Alberta. His goal is to become a litigation lawyer focussing on civil cases.

Fernando has a lot of support through his journey. He met Jasmin at College of the Rockies when he was recruiting volunteers for a Students' Association project. They have now been married for seven years and hope to have children in the near future.

"I have changed a lot as a person since coming to College of the Rockies," he concludes. "I have a different understanding now of tolerance, diversity, gender roles and religion. I have different priorities and goals. I am so grateful to this great country of awesome people for the things I have experienced."

Because of his love of the country, in March 2014, Fernando became a Canadian citizen. "One of my greatest achievements was to become a Canadian citizen," he says. "I am very grateful for growing up in Ecuador, but to me, becoming a Canadian citizen means that everybody knows that you are fully engaged in Canada and you are ready to serve this country in any role to keep it strong. I promised myself that I was going to work as hard as I could and contribute as much as I can to this wonderful country. I love Canada."

Patrick from Peru - Student Life in Canada

International student Patrick at Lake LouiseMy name is Patrick, and I am a 20-year-old from Peru who came to Canada to study at College of the Rockies (COTR) in Cranbrook, British Columbia.

How was it? In one world I can say that it was magic.

I think that I had the best days of my life these last four months in Canada. It was a wonderful experience full of adventures, amazing people, trips, laughs, challenges, feelings, and experiences that I will never forget.

So when did this experience start? It started that first day when I arrived in Canada and

I saw snow for first time in my life. There was lots of snow! In the airport my very nice host family and a member of the COTR International Office were waiting for me. They welcomed me to Canada with big smiles and very good energies. Throughout my stay in Canada my host family was really nice to me. They took me to see new places around Cranbrook and they introduced me to nice people who later became my friends. Also they helped me with English by talking with me every day and correcting me whenever that was necessary.

Also, the International Office staff were really friendly with me too. They were available to help me with everything that I needed, always with the best energy and a big smile. I spent a lot of time in the International Office and it was not just for the nice people, also the International Office has a very pleasant atmosphere. You can sit and talk with your friends, use the computer if you need, eat varieties of chocolates and sweets for free, and use the international telephone for free! Thanks to this welcoming atmosphere, all the international students including me, who are far from home, had a place where we can feel like home and where we can spend a rewarding time.

Furthermore, the International Office organizes the best activities for international students. Personally I tried to do every activity that they planned because they were always fun and also inexpensive. Through these activities I could meet more people and integrate faster in a group.

A normal student probably spends about half of their time at the college, and I am glad to say that it is a wonderful place to spend half of the time! The structure is very modern and the educational services are really helpful and effective. The classes are very nice and productive at the same time, the small class size and the approachable instructors are perfect for the learning and the students can feel the personalized instruction. Also the teachers use technology to support the students' learning.

I was very lucky to be selected for the Emerging Leaders of the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarship, with the support of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Therefore, I was in Canada for only four months, and I feel that was not enough because Canada is an amazing country, but also a large one. I leave Canada with the feeling that I am missing something because although I did many things I know that there are still more things that I can do. I am planning to work hard and come back someday, but until then I will never forget my magical experience in Canada and at College of the Rockies.

Hoang Anh Tu from Vietnam - University Transfer

Hello everyone, my name is Hoang Anh Tu Nguyen (also Lavie as my beloved usually call me).

I've been studying at College of the Rockies and doing the University Transfer program for a year. I had great success in my studies at this school last year, and I spent a wonderful time with the most amazing experiences that I've ever had. I came to Canada to pursue my passion for science. I was looking for a highly qualified education at the most competitive tuition. Thus, I chose College of the Rockies because this institution suited me best and lived up to all of my expectations. At College of the Rockies I obtained quality instruction and interesting programs conducted by excellent instructors. Here, I can benefit from small-size classes along with close direction from my instructors. Everybody here is good-hearted, open-minded and  . The Board of Directors, the Student Advisors, the International Office staff and others at College of the Rockies are always here to help me with good advice as well as timely support. Moreover, I share a good learning environment with multi-national, friendly classmates from various countries. I also enjoy a comfortable lifestyle at an affordable living cost in the City of Cranbrook, where a large selection of recreational opportunities.

I am so happy and lucky to be a student at College of the Rockies. I love everyone here, my homestay family, my instructors and my friends. Thus, I greatly appreciate what College of the Rockies has done for me both intellectually and morally in my personal development. No doubt that College of the Rockies has become my second home now. Thus, I strongly recommend this school to you, my dear friends.

Chào các bạn, mình tên Nguyễn Hoàng Anh Tú hay Lavie như cách mọi người thường hay gọi.

Mình đang theo học chương trình Đại học chuyển tiếp tại trường Cao đẳng Rockies (viết tắt là College of the Rockies). Với những trải nghiệm tuyệt vời chưa từng có trước đây, mình đã đạt thành tích học tập rất tốt trong năm học vừa qua. Bước chân đến Canada với niềm đam mê khoa học, bản thân mình và gia đình mong muốn tìm kiếm một nền giáo dục chất lượng cao với giá cả hợp lý. College of the Rockies là một sự lựa chọn đạt tất cả tiêu chí của mình và gia đình. Tại đây, mình được tiếp thu kiến thức từ những giảng viên giỏi kèm theo phương pháp giảng dạy rất khoa học. Học tập và làm việc trong một môi trường không quá đông sinh viên, thầy cô có thể gần gũi và hướng dẫn mình kĩ lưỡng. Bên cạnh đó, bạn bè và nhân viên tại trường rất cởi mở và hòa đồng, tạo cho mình một cảm giác rất ấm cúng khi sống xa gia đình. Từ Ban Giám Hiệu đến đội ngũ giáo viên tư vấn, Phòng Quan hệ sinh viên quốc tế, tất cả mọi người đều sẵn sàng hướng dẫn và khuyên bảo hỗ trợ mình khi mình cần sự giúp đỡ. Ngoài ra, sau những giờ học trên lớp, môi trường học tập thân thiện nơi đây còn giúp mình giao lưu và trao đổi cùng với những sinh viên quốc tế khác. Quan trọng hơn cả là mình có một cuộc sống tiện nghi thoải mái với giá cả sinh hoạt hợp lý xung quanh thành phố Cranbrook – khuôn viên chính của trường cao đẳng Rockies. Cranbrook một thành phố tuy không rộng lớn nhưng là nơi đầy đủ cơ sở vật chất mang đến cho bạn cơ hội thư giãn và giải trí sau những giờ học tập và làm việc.

Thật sự mình rất vui và may mắn khi là một sinh viên của trường College of the Rockies. Mình thật lòng yêu quý mọi người ở đây, từ thầy cô, bạn bè và cả gia đình “home-stay”- nơi mang đến cho mình cảm giác ấm áp khi xa nhà. Mình cảm ơn tất cả những gì College of the Rockies đã mang đến cho mình từ kiến thức chuyên môn đến công tác rèn luyện đạo đức xã hội. Mình thật sự không e ngại khi một lần nữa khẳng định rằng, theo đuổi học tập và sống tại College of the Rockies là một quyết định sáng suốt của mình và Cao đẳng Rockies là gia đình thứ hai. Vì vậy, mình mong muốn giới thiệu nhà trường với các bạn tại Việt Nam: “Hãy để College of the Rockies vun đắp kiến thức và trở thành điểm xuất phát cho hành trình học vấn của bạn tại Canada.”

Sarah Weissmeyer from Germany - ESL & Arts

“Hi my name is Sarah. I am 20 years old and from a small town in Northern Germany. My mother and I decided to come to Canada after I graduated from High School in Lehrte, by Hanover. The main reasons for my application to this program were that I am passionate about studying and my dream is to go to University to continue my studies one day. I have chosen the College of the Rockies because my relatives immigrated to Cranbrook about 50 years ago and because I love its location in the East Kootenays.”

"I have gained invaluable experiences during my 2 years of study at the College as an international student. I appreciate that the College of the Rockies supports me and many other international students in our ambition to gather knowledge from excellent teachers. Allowing myself to become more open-minded, and learning to speak freely in a classroom with people from all over the world, has been a far more valuable experience than gaining a degree or diploma to me. I am glad that the College helped me to decide for the Arts as a major focus of study. The Associates of Arts degree is a great achievement for students who would like to gain a well-rounded education. This diversity of subjects and students is necessary for me and other students to challenge us and to encourage improvement."

In 2013, Sarah won the Governor General’s Academic Bronze Medal. This medal honours the student who achieves the highest overall average upon graduation, and includes a $1000 scholarship from College of the Rockies.

Liza Gitchimu from Kenya - Tourism and Recreation Management

“Liza Gitchimu had been working in hotels in Kenya and enjoyed her work but had no formal training in hospitality or tourism. To progress in her career, she knew she had to get an education in the tourism field so she made the decision to study in Canada and attend the Tourism and Recreation Management diploma program (TRPMP) at College of the Rockies (College of the Rockies). Liza was impressed with her College of the Rockies experience from start to finish. “I had a good experience with College of the Rockies prior to my arrival. They were always quick to reply to all my questions.” Once in Cranbrook, Liza “found College of the Rockies to be very welcoming” and “Cranbrook to be the most friendly part of Canada. Every class, every experience in my program really helped me out. All my instructors were very supportive.” While at College of the Rockies, Liza’s first job was as a residence advisor in the student residence on campus, which was “a great experience to learn teamwork”. Liza also was employed at the Heritage Inn. “I had no problem finding a job in Cranbrook when I mentioned I was a student at the college in the TRMP program.”

After attending College of the Rockies for two years and completing her diploma, Liza decided to further her education by transferring to Royal Roads University in Victoria to complete her degree. “after leaving Cranbrook, I immediately got a job at a four star hotel in Victoria. In the hotel industry in Victoria, students with tourism education are well-favoured and promoted.”

When asked if she had any advice for future students, Liza said, “I tell all my friends to complete their education. My education at College of the Rockies has opened doors for me, When you have education, you don’t need to knock on an employer’s door twice, only once.”

Xitong (Kathy) Li from China - Business

I studied in Maple Leaf International High School for three years. In Grade 12, my parents and I were confused about college and university. We were thinking that going into university directly might be hard for me, but if we choose college first maybe it would be hard to transfer to university. Finally, my adviser in high school encouraged me to go into college first, and at the same time, International Project Coordinator, Jeff, from College of the Rockies (College of the Rockies) helped me to know College of the Rockies is a small college which can help me to finish my first year and then transfer to university.

In College of the Rockies, I got a lot of help from the international office and all of my instructors. In my first year at College of the Rockies, I studied 11 courses and finally in April 2010 I got offers from both Simon Fraser University (SFU) and University of Victoria. Now I am a full-time student at SFU in Vancouver working towards my degree in Bachelor of Business Administration.

I really think studying one year at College of the Rockies helped me improve my English and also helped prepare me for life at university.

Paula Oliveira from Brazil - Business Administration

My name is Paula Oliveira and I am a student of Business Administration at the Federal Institute of Bahia in Brazil. I was granted a scholarship by the Canadian Government to study the last semester of my degree at the College of the Rockies. As a student with a permanent disability, I received great support from the college staff, which not only made my exchange possible, but also very enjoyable. Being enrolled in a college that is sensitive to my needs has made a huge difference in what is definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Younes Elbakush from Libya - English as a Second Language

Choosing to come to College of the Rockies (College of the Rockies) was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In October 2009 I started learning English after enrolling in College of the Rockies’s English Language Training program. This program is mainly focused on English grammar, reading, writing, and English conversation. The atmosphere in Cranbrook was comfortable, quiet and fun. I chose to study at College of the Rockies because I knew that I wanted to attend a smaller place where I could get individual attention if I needed it.

I was immediately impressed by the warm welcome I received from the host family, students, lecturers, and staff, and I knew this was where I wanted to study. The classrooms are really small, so you get a lot of individual attention from the teachers and you get to work with other students, but what I liked most about my experience in Cranbrook was people. They made me feel like they were my family. Everybody knew your name and would try to help you when you needed anything. In addition, one of the best things about studying at College of the Rockies was that I had the opportunity to meet students from all over the world.

By the end of spring in 2010, I had enough knowledge of the English language to do some traveling in Canada. I traveled in beautiful British Columbia, one of the most beautiful places in the world. When I was in Libya I heard a lot about this country but what I really saw was more beautiful than fiction.

Finally, I came to College of the Rockies with the vision of learning a new language and improving my cultural knowledge; but, thanks to all of the wonderful and open-minded people I met, I learned and experienced way beyond what I had expected and I did a lot more than what I'd dreamed of when I first took the plane to Canada.

 Ankit Parashar from India - Global Studies Graduate Certificate

Ankit Parashar was looking for a program with an international component to complement his professional career and prepare him to succeed in this fast paced and competitive world. The GLST program was the perfect fit. “This program consists of cultural awareness, co-operative projects, orientation to international participation, portfolio planning for global careers all within the context of our chosen career fields. With this program I was able to apply my existing skills in my career in a better way. Studying alongside students from different countries and cultural backgrounds has given me the opportunity to learn from a global point of view" explains Ankit.

I have great memories of my studies at College of The Rockies. Thanks to everyone at the college and international department for continuous support, guidance & feedback. The courses were very interesting and the small size of the classes allowed the use of better learning. I was able to find a job as an Accounting Technician at Edmonton within a couple of month after completion of my studies. 

Thanks & regards,

Ankit Parashar


Ji-Hyun Lee from South Korea - ESL and Early Childhood Education

Hi everybody, my name is Ji-Hyun Lee. Originally I started in the ESL program at College of the Rockies to improve my English. With the English skills I learned here, I was able to progress to a college program that really interested me - Early Childhood Education (ECE). This program has been a great experience for me. The instructors are thoughtful and helpful and my Canadian classmates are so friendly.

College of the Rockies is not located in a major city like Vancouver or Toronto so I was a bit hesitant about going there. However, now I can tell you, if you want to improve your English skills in a short time and you are looking for a program that is affordable, College of the Rockies is the smart answer. College of the Rockies has enthusiastic professional ESL instructors and international students who come from not only Asia, but around world. If you need any help, the international office staff are happy to assist you with all your questions about Canadian life.

If you are considering studying English in Canada, do not miss the great chance to study in Cranbrook!

(Ji-Hyun is now finishing the ECE program online from Vancouver).

Tomomi Matsumoto from Japan - University Transfer (Sciences)

Hi Everyone, my name is Tomomi Matsumoto. My two years at College of the Rockies (College of the Rockies) were the first step of my life in Canada and the very foundation of my journey through the Canadian university education that leads up to today.

Coming from Japan, my experiences at College of the Rockies were eye-opening in every way. I met so many inspiring and caring mentors, advisors, and lifetime friends. With the college’s great support for international students, I had the opportunity to study university level science among local students under amazing professors who were full of passion for teaching in their subject fields. Although it wasn’t always easy to keep up with the advanced studies while still improving my English, the college support was tremendous, and after all, it was all worth it because it equipped me with the passion, skills and confidence that I needed to pursue my dream of working in the conservation field.

After the completion of the College of the Rockies program, I continued my undergraduate study at the University of British Columbia. After graduation, I was accepted to a Masters program under a leading researcher in the field of population and conservation genetics at the University of Alberta. Since then, I spent the past three years of my life doing research concerning genetics of wildlife disease, which has been more than worthwhile and an exceptional experience so far.

With the Masters program nearing the end, I look back and find it hard to believe how far I was able to come. I was once a shy girl with broken English and today I am teaching and presenting my research work at scientific conferences! I am so grateful for the boost I got at College of the Rockies. It truly broadened my horizons and made me believe in my potential.

Khoa Nguyen from Vietnam - Accounting

Hi everyone, my name is Khoa Nguyen. I studied in Canada from 2009 - 2012. Canada is a beautiful country which has a lot of amazing scenery across the country. I was a full time student taking an Accounting major at College of the Rockies (College of the Rockies).

College of the Rockies provides a lot of conveniences for international students who come from everywhere around the world including many programs, courses, outdoor and indoor activities, and a safe and friendly environment. I met so many amazing friends while studying here and I learned a lot from them. If your English skills are not good, don’t be shy to ask your friends and teachers to correct you because it is the best way for you to improve your English. If this is your first time studying abroad, don’t worry! College of the Rockies's staff would love to help you to find a Host Family which will provide you a very warm welcome and a good meal every day.

In my opinion, studying at College of the Rockies helps you to have a very first step for higher education or universities in Canada. From what I have experienced, I highly recommend College of the Rockies to you and your parents to consider where you can put your trust and your future in.

Priscilla Ferreira from Brazil - Business Administration

My name is Priscilla Ferreira and I am from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. I took Business Administration at the College of the Rockies for four months and it was the best experience of my life so far. There are several reasons for that:

1) The International Office supports the students when they arrive and there is no feeling of being lost. Everything is very well organized and the schedules are important for who is new to the country, to the college and to the language. After this first contact, the International Office continues to be supportive and important to every student that comes from above; they are more than necessary. Besides, everyone in the College does their best to be welcoming.

2) The city is easy to adapt and the residents are very friendly.

3) This program brings the opportunity to meet new people and to learn about Canadian culture. Not only Canadian, but also culture from other international students.

4) The classes are challenges for someone learning English as a second language as myself, and challenges are the perfect incentive to development. There is, also, the experience to be living abroad, to be alone, to cook, to clean and specially to manage responsibilities.

I only have good things to say because only good things were provided to me with this experience in College of the Rockies.

Shou "Allan" Liang from China - Diploma in Business Administration

Shou “Allan” Liang attended the Dalian Maple Leaf International School for three years until his graduation in June 2010. In April 2012, he successfully completed his Diploma in Business Administration from College of the Rockies (College of the Rockies). While at the Maple Leaf school, Allan applied to five universities and a number of colleges before deciding on College of the Rockies.

“When I was thinking about selecting a school, I was originally thinking only about famous schools. However, I knew that I had to improve my English, so I decided on College of the Rockies. After two years here, I know I made the right choice. Now my English is way better than all my friends that went to Vancouver.”

Looking back, Allan believes that the quality of his education at College of the Rockies was also better.

"The learning style really worked for me. Class sizes are really small, and people here are super nice and willing to communicate with you. When I need help, I know where to find the instructors; they are always available to help me.”

With all that support, Allan excelled academically and was awarded with a scholarship from the college.

Allan also enjoyed the lifestyle in Cranbrook. “I lived in homestay with the same family for two years. They are very nice people. They helped me a lot when I first arrived. Now I consider them my friends. It really helped my English to live in homestay. I’ve learned so much about Canadian culture here in Cranbrook. I have both Canadian friends and Chinese friends here.”

Allan has decided to take a few years off and work in Canada under the post-graduate work permit program, then return to school to complete his degree.

Bocar Keita from Mali -  English as a Second Language

My name is Bocar Keita. I attended College of the Rockies back in 2004-2005, while I was taking my ESL courses.

After Cranbrook, I went to Ottawa and attended the University of Ottawa, where I obtained a Bachelor degree in Finance and an MBA degree in International Management.

I lived there for 6 years and after my Master degree I started working for the United Nations in Congo, Central Africa. 

I still stayed attached to Canada, because I still go back there for vacation every 6 months.

I cannot thank College of the Rockies enough for all the support given to me back when I was a new comer in Canada. Until today I still talk about my Cranbrook stories and my first English classes to my friends and colleagues. Even though I am in an excellent place right now, and being capable to speak, write and work in English, I do realize that it all started in Cranbrook and with your support and guidance.