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International Student Blog

International Student Experience


Valentina Pena

The beginning of many new adventures  

I decided to come study in Canada on an impulse. I had many plans and this one worked out for me without me realizing. Arriving in Corner Brook I was nervous, exhilarated, and looking forward to what this place was gonna bring to my life. Granted, Grenfell is a very small campus, and although many don’t like this, I enjoyed it very much. I got to meet lifelong friends from all over the world and people I will hold dear for a long time. Studying Visual Arts here was an experience that was both challenging and fulfilling. I learned a lot about myself, and got along well with my professors and peers. 

 After being here for a while I was itching to go explore a new place, due to my fascination but also because I had made friends that I wanted to see again. I decided to adventure on and go abroad, again, to the other side of the world! I went on an exchange to Japan. I can say that it changed my life. It was daunting but absolutely marvelous to be in a place where I didn’t know the language, hardly knew anyone and was so far away from home and what became my second home. I learned so many things being there and I’m really happy and glad Grenfell gave me the opportunity to do it. I saw unbelievable sights and met some of the best people I’ve met! My art practice also definitely benefited from me going abroad and expanding my horizons. After my exchange my world had expanded exponentially and I realized how both big and small the world actually is. I’m thankful that my plans seemed to work themselves out and now I’m going on towards a new adventure, but Grenfell will always have a special place in my heart. 


Ian D. Chandi A

Representation matters

My name is Ian D. Chandi A. a transfer student from Nairobi, Kenya, pursuing a Computational Math degree going into my fourth year. I am of the firm belief that if you are exposed to any environment, in whatever capacity, you should leave it in a better condition than that which you found it. And that is my driving force here at Grenfell; as I get an education and continue to be impacted, to find a way to make an impact, however small. It is because of this that I jumped at the opportunity to be the Grenfell Campus representative to the MUN Board of Regents and in the winter semester, served as the Chairman of the GCSU Student Council.

thumbnail_IMG_1108.jpgThe weight of the leadership roles I occupy gave me the confidence to address and boldly speak on matters I believe(d) to be important, not just to me but my fellow students. Issues concerning equal representation on campus, diversity in committees that make important decisions concerning the running of the school, and ways to create a healthy and conducive learning environment for students, faculty and staff without any party being discriminated for any reason. Also, before the pandemic rendered the campus closed, together with the GCSU Student Union, we successfully pushed for a solution to the termination of the weekly student shuttle service that helped many international students.

I am grateful and appreciative of the opportunities that MUN and Grenfell have provided by availing/creating such leadership opportunities. All the same, I look forward to a time when the Grenfell Campus and the St. John's campus will not be run as two separate institutions, when the challenges that international students face will be mitigated to the point where they are almost unnoticeable, when people of colour do not have to deal with insensitive racial microaggressions and most importantly a time when there will be more than just one person of colour sitting on the Board.


koosoom Sookun (Mauritius)


Home for me Mauritius. It is that tiny island located off the east coast of Madagascar which goes unnoticed most of the time. Whenever somebody from Corner Brook asks me where I am from, I typically use Madagascar as a reference point. That is when I will get an, “OHHH, I’ve seen the movie.” It is much easier to explain it that way since it is very rare to meet someone here who knows where the Indian Ocean is situated on the map. In the same way, I had never heard about Newfoundland before I actually looked it up on google and decided to come and study Environmental Science at Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook.

104205330_181926796582680_7146077469327462641_n (1).jpgI still remember the day I landed in Deer Lake about four years ago, and some students from Grenfell came to pick me up from the airport. The surrounding vastness of boreal forests and the communities integrated in it amazed me then and continues to amaze me until now. I realized that I was off for a breath-taking adventure. However, more than the immense beauty of this place, there is another thing that struck me from the very beginning. It was the abundance of warmth and kindness that I felt from every single Newfoundlander. This is probably one of the main reasons why I am so connected to this island now.

Looking back at these four years, I feel that I can call Corner Brook my second home. It all started with the friends I made at Grenfell, some of which I even consider as my family now. It started in that small class of 15 to 20 students where I never had to feel overwhelmed by the idea of intense lecture classes I had always heard of. It started with my professors who were ever-ready to help me with any academic issues. It started with all the activities organized by the campus to discover more of Newfoundland’s destinations and culture. On top of that, I got to share this journey of mine with students from all around the world, Taiwan, India, Qatar, Oman, Colombia, Tanzania, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, you name it! Some of these students are close friends of mine now, and we are still in touch no matter where we are currently living in the world. This multicultural diversity in Grenfell and the people of Corner Brook who accept different cultures with their open arms is what made my experience here more enriching and enjoyable.

The b’ys never made me feel like a stranger. They taught me the slang, invited me over to have their famous Jigg’s dinner and were always ready to help. Be it at the university, at work or even when I am walking on the road, I never felt scared on this new adventure I had just embarked on because I felt at home. At the end of the day, Corner Brook is just a small town with a population of around 20, 000 people. However, this small town has won my heart with its warm and cozy culture and I feel that I am a part of it. There is a saying that goes like, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Corner Brook, somehow, became the other side of the grass for me. This place is so special to me that whenever I go back home for the summer, I miss the whole of Corner Brook. And when I am here in Corner Brook, I talk so much about Mauritius to everyone I know that I am pretty sure they will not ask where it is located when someone else mentions it in the future. These are my two homes now, and one thing that I am certain about is that my Mauritian family cannot wait to come and explore Newfoundland, and my Newfie family cannot wait to bathe in the glorious sun by the beautiful beaches of Mauritius.

Eventually, like pretty much all students, I will also, sadly, be moving out to pursue my career goals. However, these fours years of my life spent in Corner Brook is what made me the person that I am today, and I cannot thank my university and the people of this town enough for supporting me throughout this phase and making me one of their own. I will always carry this culture with me wherever I go.103342788_732884637462518_8084386431965110517_n.jpg



Jose Hoare (Belize)

Expanding our horizons

As an international student, I had already had to adapt coming to a different culture. It was a unique experience seeing how diverse Grenfell campus was and how we all aren’t that different from one another – we just do things in a different way. Coming here and succeeding in integrating and making friends pushed me to consider stepping outside of my comfort zone even more. So, I headed to Australia!

To me, studying in Australia as part of my Grenfell Campus program was a way to meet amazing people to whom I still talk to up to this day, experience unbelievable sights that most people can only dream of seeing, and countless unforgettable experiences. 

Studying abroad opens your eyes to new cultures and makes you more appreciative of your own. It changes the way you view people and makes you more open-minded. Every place has something different to offer and coming back to Grenfell after studying abroad made me more aware of what I like and dislike. Most importantly, I learned how to be more understanding of cultural differences.

Overall, I am forever grateful to Grenfell Campus for encouraging me to expand my horizons in new ways



Jorge Rafael Pinto Campos (Portugal)

My Canadian dream: A family legacy

rafae2.jpgMy experience in Canada has been a mix of exciting new adventures and struggles which has allowed me to create ways to adapt and thrive to new circumstances. As a foreign-born Canadian citizen, I grew up feeling out of place. When looking at old pictures of my siblings and parents playing in the snow, I felt a void since I couldn’t relate with such an important part of their life. As a result, when I was 19, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I left everything behind and I moved to Ottawa. The first few months were full of new hardships where I had to adapt to a new country, language, and lifestyle. I often ask myself if I experience some of the same hardships that my grandparents experienced when they decided to move to Canada almost 60 years ago, looking for a better life and a new home. 

Even though the first few months were hard, I rapidly learned English, found a job and made friends. I adapted to Canadian culture. Yet, my life changes did not stop there, 4 years after I arrived in Canada, I moved to Montreal and I started my academic journey. A different province, educational system, language, and culture came with new expectations and dreams of succeeding both academically and professionally. 

Yet, destiny had something else reserved for me. The “Grenfell Campus” calling was hard to resist; high-quality education, small classes, affordable living, etc. As a result, 9 months after moving to Montreal I was once again taking a plane to start a new life in a new province “Newfoundland and Labrador”. I now believe that all these past events have led me here, to a campus where I can grow as a person and as a student. There is more to Grenfell than meets the eye. I believe that a small campus like Grenfell allows students to nurture strong relationships with other students, professors, and staff while having a lot to offer both academically and professionally. 

Having the opportunity to work with international students this summer made me realize that my story is not unique. The Canadian dream still holds strong and it doesn’t matter if you moved to Canada 6 months ago or 60 years ago. I now feel like I belong. Canada is my place; Canadians are my people; Memorial is my university and Grenfell is my campus. I am excited to play a role in welcoming over 100 new faces in the fall and sharing that powerful experience with them!


Wei Chen (Taiwan)

Breathtaking scenery and adventure


I was an exchange student and took different courses at Grenfell Campus, such as business, anthropology and sociology. I would say my life in Grenfell was amazing without a doubt. The most impressive thing to me is that there are always a lot of activities held on campus for international students. Many of those aim to make us get involved in the community and share our country's cultures. For example, I had a lot of fun during a field trip to Gros Morne National Park and Cedar Cove, Multiculturalism Week and International Night. I still remember the field trip to Cedar Cove very clearly. After we hiked through the beautiful woods, we did yoga alongside the ocean with an instructor. That was a fantastic experience that made me fall in love with Newfoundland's nature. We had a picnic and shared the food we prepared in advance with friends while enjoying the breathtaking scenery.

During Multiculturalism Week, a province-wide celebration, I had the opportunity to share food from my country at a local grocery store. Everyone praised it very much and took the recipe home. I just felt glad and appreciated that I had this opportunity to share something from my country with the wider community.

What's more, I also experienced every kind of winter activities possible. For example, skating, downhill skiing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Everything is so FRESH and unforgettable to me because I am from a tropical country. I enjoyed the winter wonderland in Corner Brook a lot and never got sick of it. Thanks to my experience at Grenfell, I never got homesick. People I met at Grenfell Campus and in Corner Brook are extremely warm and friendly. In eight months, I learned about different cultures and completely got immersed in the community. Choosing to come to Grenfell Campus is the best decision I ever made and I recommend it to any prospective international student that wishes to embark on an incredible adventure!


Clarisse Uwamahoro (Rwanda)

Honouring my first language

I am a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Environmental Policy. I have always been thrilled by new experiences and the idea of coming here terrified me but excited me beyond my fears. After six months at Grenfell, I am now entirely a new person. It is unbelievable how a few months can bring so many changes in one’s life.

Back home, I worked with Rwanda Housing Authority, a government institution, and I had a role of designing layout plans and incorporating the environmental component in rural settlement plans. I enjoyed this work because it gave me a chance to visit many places across the country and meet communities. After almost three years of work, getting used to the academic world again was a challenge. I rediscovered the excitement of school, expanded my views towards the world around me especially the way I felt about the unknown. I learned that diversity and growth are a big part of Grenfell and a big part of every learning process.

The past 6 months have been just that: a learning process! I have learned that the most important thing is not just about what you study in class, it goes way beyond that. Part of this journey involves school and other activities such as volunteering and interaction with the community. It is through these interactions that I was introduced to the Francophone community.  I mean, what are the odds? This was a pleasant surprise!

The Francophone community of Humber Valley and Corner Brook is for every Francophone or Francophile living in the region. I enjoy our occasional gatherings whether it is for a movie night, a wine and cheese night or the so famous wine tasting. There are also organized outings for winter activities such as skiing. These gatherings are great opportunities for me to have conversation and enjoy jokes in my first language. I have no fear of forgetting French and it is great to be able to speak my first language while making new friends in Newfoundland!


Monique Traantoft Martens (Denmark)

Opportunity of a lifetime

I am currently studying Leisure Management in my third year at Profession shøjskolen Absalon. The education covers a lot of different areas such as business, event management and tourism, with which I am very interested.

In my free time I like hanging out with friends and family, but I also enjoy a cup of tea and a good book. I spend a good part of my time in the stables with my two horses, which have been a big part of my life for thirteen years, or taking care of my two cats.

When starting to look for places to go abroad, Canada was high up on my wish-list because of two reasons; it was outside of Europe and the nature was said to be fantastic. I decided to attend Memorial University of Newfoundland. I jumped on the opportunity to do a one-week-internship at Bonne Bay Marine Station this past summer, and enrolled in the semester at Grenfell Campus. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity! While in Norris Point at the Bonne Bay Marine Station, I stayed with a fellow student and together we reviewed the marketing plan for Bonne Bay Marine Station including all their social media accounts. We identified the strengths and gaps of the current plan and provided solutions and suggestions. This was is fun, but I also gained a lot of practical experience by applying theory to a real-life case that I would not have obtained in a classroom.

A few weeks later, I began studies at Grenfell Campus.


Once the semester started, a field trip around Gros Morne National Park was arranged for the students, which I was happy to attend.  I was retuning to where my Canadian adventure had begun! It was very fun to be back at Bonne Bay Marine Station only this time I experienced the place as a tourist. It added another layer to the whole experience of the aquarium as I had  "inside knowledge" about the place and its marketing strategies to attract tourists. I noticed things regarding the place and the whole experience, that I had not been aware of when living there, which I now realized because I experienced Bonne Bay Marine Station as a tourist.  


International Student Services

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: AS 271
Phone: (709) 639-6525
Email: international@grenfell.mun.ca

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