What Is It Like Being an International Student at Quest

By Yin Xzi – 1st Year Student

Having grown up in the International Student Bubble all my life I’ve quickly grown accustomed to answering the question: where are you from? The answer is that I was born in Malaysia, and I stayed there until I was 5, during which my family and I moved to Guangzhou, China. I consider both places home, and yet still there’s a third piece of my cultural identity that can’t quite be covered in that brief summary.

I can’t deny that there was a part of me that was worried about coming to Quest and feeling left out. Despite having learnt from an early age how to adjust to the culture around me, moving to Quest would be the first time in my life in which I would be living away from my family and home – a place where, if nothing else, I could find my own culture.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t need to worry. Here’s the thing. Officially we have a student population of roughly 46% Canadian, 37% US, and 17% non-North American students. But in reality, Quest students are truly diverse in their backgrounds.

On my first day of International Student Orientation at Quest – which also marked my third day in Canada – I was asked multiple times where I was from. Over giant jenga (a past time game that’s taken very seriously in the first few weeks) I was asked once more where I call home. This time, when I answered Malaysia the immediate response from this particular Quest student (who was not from Malaysia) was, “Oh! Apa khabar?” (Meaning: How are you?) My involuntary reaction was to widely smile and respond, “Saya baik!” (Meaning: I’m good!)

In that moment I learnt that no matter where you come from (or how rare the place you call home may be – as of this current moment I have yet to meet another Malaysian student), Quest is becoming home.

It’s not to say that as an international student you won’t miss home, I’ve started missing the warmth and near-constant sunshine of home as we head into October where the sun sets earlier and the rain visits regularly. But just within this past week I’ve cooked dinner with my floor (spring rolls, in case you were wondering), played a lot of volleyball, celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with a mooncake, completed readings for class, helped bake four pies (all apple), and had my first ever Canadian thanksgiving potluck dinner with students in my year.

Going back to the question: where are you from? I was born in Malaysia, where I lived till I was 5, which is when I moved to China for 10 years, before moving back to Malaysia for another 3, and now I get to call Quest (and by extension Squamish, British Columbia, Canada) my home.

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