Question: What has been the highlight of your experience at Carleton so far?
Ketki: The campus itself! It’s really pretty, and surrounded by so much nature. I love exploring different parts of campus (or a little off campus towards the canal) whenever I take breaks, and it’s really rejuvenating.
Q: What attracted you to Canada, and to Carleton in particular?
K: Canada is a really beautiful and culturally diverse country – I felt right at home when I landed here! It was definitely one of my major reasons to choose to come to Canada.
Carleton is in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, with amazing tech opportunities to be a part of!
It is also a close knit campus, and really makes you feel welcome.
Q: You are part of a unique work-study opportunity as part of your degree program. Can you tell us a bit about it?
K: I’m a part of the Dev Degree program, where Carleton and Shopify work together in a program where we work 20 hours at Shopify to learn practical knowledge, plus five hours where we have the opportunity to work on our personal development, while taking computer science courses at Carleton. It’s been an amazing learning experience for me!
It helps me understand and apply what I learn in class, and the support I receive from both ends is really wonderful, making the whole transition from high school (in a whole different country) to university very smooth and positive!
Q: What advice would you have for students considering Carleton?
Reach out to people at Carleton if you have any questions – it seems intimidating at first, but they’re really helpful and would probably answer your question the best.
Also make sure you accept your offer early, so you can figure out your housing situation – whether you’re living in the dorm (residence) or off campus.
If you’re into computer science / software engineering, I’d definitely suggest going to the Carleton Computer Science Society events, they’re amazing.
Also make sure to register for a Science Student Success Centre mentor in the summer, my mentor has been so helpful to help me move from my country to Carleton!
Q: What do you think you’ve gained from your experience here?
K: I haven’t been here a long time – it’s barely halfway through my first semester, but I’ve been loving it so far. I’ve been exposed to a lot of opportunities – seminars, hackathons, resources – from the get-go and it’s gotten me really comfortable in the Ottawa tech field!
Q: What surprised you about Canadian culture?
K: Definitely how friendly and inclusive Canadians are – I’ve never once felt out of place here!
Q: What do you think about the food in Canada, and on campus?
K: Canada definitely has a blend of food from different cultures, and I know the Caf has at least one thing from a different country every day, so it’s really fun to try out!
Q: Where are your favourite places to eat on campus, and in Ottawa?
K: As a non-Canadian, I had my first Iced Capp at Tim Hortons when I first came to campus and I’m in love! That’s definitely my highlight here! Also don’t forget to try the Beaver Tails in the Byward Market because they’re amazing!
Q: Were you homesick at first? If so, how did you deal with it?
K: Definitely! If it’s your first time away from your family in an unknown country, it does get overwhelming and lonely and the best way to deal with it is to keep in touch with your family and friends back home, and also make loads of friends here!
I video called back home almost every evening (when it was morning at their place), as well as kept in touch over WhatsApp.
Also, I found a lot of amazing people here in my first week who I now can call my close friends (also try to connect with people coming to Carleton from your own country so you can adjust to the transition together).
Q: Did you experience culture shock when you first came to Canada? (Had you ever been to Canada before?)
K: Coming to Carleton was my first time in Canada and I definitely had a culture shock.
Coming from India, Ottawa seemed a little empty, but as the days go by, I honestly love the peace and quiet in this place.
I feel like it’s really about getting used to a place – you’re always going to feel a little overwhelmed moving to another country, but slowly you get into a routine with university and activities and you get used to it (and even start loving it!)
Q: What would you tell yourself a year ago, before you came to Carleton? What would have helped you to know?
K: Definitely about how to prepare for the winter, because it’s going to get really cold here! It’s best you do your research before you come or at least right after you’ve arrived and buy your clothes relatively early (I’ve realized beginning of October is the best time to buy them) because the cold will hit you earlier than you expect!
Also the bus and train system here is very different than my country, so it took a while to get used to it.
Q: Is it easy to get around the city? What’s your experience with public transportation?
K: I love the public transportation here – once you figure it out, with your UPass, you can take any bus/train under OC Transpo and practically go anywhere in the city! Sometimes my friends and I just go to a randomly selected location and explore it!
Q: Have you travelled much in Ontario, or have any plans?
K: I definitely want to explore Ontario – I’m going on a day trip to Montreal with my friends soon, and visiting my family in Toronto! But in the four years I’m at Carleton, I want to explore everything I can!
Q: Do you have any more tips for new international students?
K: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s really intimidating a lot of times (as an introvert, even more so) but most people here are really willing to help, and even go beyond to make things easier for you!
Make connections, try and be involved in things at university, and make use of all opportunities given to you!
*If you have any questions for Ketki, the best way to reach out to her is through her LinkedIn profile