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Wilfrid Laurier University Centre for Student Success
February 12, 2016

Canadian Excellence


Don't be Afraid. It's Never Too Late to Try.

Dont be Afraid. Its Never Too Late to Try.

by Guanglong Pang

Some of us appreciate the beauty of determination for a life changing transformation. Some of us may have learned examples teaching us the principle that its never too late to try. This blog post takes you on a third person perspective to take a look into the life episodes of a chubby Chinese boy who grew up outside of Canada. He went through the same growing journey that many boys and girls may experience at some points in their lives. That is life; lots of times life is harsh and we get frustrated. Indeed, the chubby boy got frustrated so many times because he had a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. He learned his valuable life lesson from his transforming experiences that its never too late to give something a shot and make a change. He needed to fight for a change, for the people he loved and for himself.



In elementary school, he never had real interest in any subject. He was horrible at math and miserable in English class. Chinese as his mother tongue was the only subject he was ok with. In his school, getting good grades were above everything else. Sports and Phys Ed classes were minimized and for some semesters they didnt exist at all.Even if there was a sporting event, it wouldnt be his turn to shine. Teachers always wanted to discuss his school work with his parents when school was done. He was always the last one to get dismissed because his parents and teachers seemed to always have endless conversations and to give concerned sighs. At home, he had his Nintendo GameBoy in his hands all the time and eventually, his parents had to hide it away from him in order for him do better at school. His parents enrolled him in after school study sessions on the weekend. He didnt like those sessions and was forced to go and sometimes, he would escape right after his parents dropped him off at the place. He hated school and the fact that he couldnt just play games all day long, but he was a big dreamer.

His parents owned a restaurant and he liked to eat very much so he was a little bit overweight. Adults pinching his round face joked around with him telling him that he was cute, but deep down inside he knew his peers wouldnt think the same way as those adults.Day by day, instead of thinking about math, he increasingly disliked his body and wished he was born in a slim body, like the slim character from the anime he watched.

When he got into middle school, school work became more intense. The size of his school was so huge and over one thousand students from different classes sometimes had to do group exercises together. This could get awkward for him as he was an extreme introvert with low self-esteem. He made some friends who were in the same shape as him and played the same video games with him. His mind was even more occupied by those video games, leaving less room for studying. Almost the same style of life repeated for most of his middle school years, but things slightly changed when he was fourteen.

One day he woke up from sleeping in his English class. He was observing his English teacher explaining grammar with his half-opened eyes. Out of nowhere from his sleepy and blank mind, he had a flash in his head, a thought that he wanted to learn English and be at least good at one thing. He went to the English teachers office with the courage he never had before. He gulped a mouthful of air and told his teacher he needed attention from the teacher in his class and he would try hard. Almost all teachers would say the same thing: I will help you if you try. The chubby boy knew that his teacher was being nice and didnt actually have much expectation for him. That night, he started marking his English textbook with Chinese definitions for those words he didnt know. That was a huge project because he only knew yes, no and one sentence, I like bananas. He tried to memorize the stories from his English textbooks. From that time till he graduated from middle school, all his English books were marked with intense clusters of words that no one else would like to read except him. All students had to take the High School Entrance Exam at the end of middle school. For English, the chubby boy scored 127 out of 150, which confirmed his hard work. He never felt so accomplished before and he realized he had English as a starting point to try even harder in high school.



In order to keep himself from thinking about playing video games, he reached an agreement with his mom to attend a private boarding high school. Every week, he left school on Saturday night to go home and went back to school on Sunday night. He continued improving his English, and his confidence was lifted because of his English. He started giving a great deal of his attention to math and other subjects. Teachers noticed his dedication and he steadily improved his academic performance. Whats more, a school track coach told him he had potential to run competitively. He was overwhelmed by that compliment and decided to train himself hardcore. When his friends were playing, he was either studying or running. He took his summer breaks as opportunities for training. As you might have expected that intense training will make a person lose weight. He lost 40 pounds by the end of his second year of high school. He was good enough to run for the school track team and made it into the provincial competition. He was satisfied enough and devoted more of his attention to his academics. At the end of his high school, he earned respect from teachers by his high academic achievements.

In the national University Entrance Examination, which determined which university high school students could attend, he made his whole family proud, especially for English where he scored extremely high. His grades were high enough to apply for most of the top universities in China, but his mom surprised him one day by telling him he could try to study in Canada. A shivering feeling pulsed though his body. He didnt expect that at all and never thought about studying abroad. His mom asked him if he wanted to take the chance and grant his life an unforgettable and meaningful change. He was confident in his English but come on, studying abroad? Just thinking about using English every day, not to mention using English in lectures, made him nervous. You know what, people always dare to do scary things even when they know it will be tough. The high school graduate said yes to his mom and started using his English on a whole new level. He was not sure where his future would direct him if he left home and ventured to Canada, but one thing he was sure about was that at that time, he needed to work so hard so that he could find the answer in the future.

I hope you are enjoying what youre reading and have guessed who the chubby boy was. I came to Canada to study at Laurier only six months after I graduated from high school. I came here alone to seek a better education. I wanted to make myself grow not only personally but professionally. I knew it would be very challenging to study in a country where people speak another language, but I was willing to take the chance because I wanted to expose myself to more opportunities. The memories that I had when I got off the plane in Canada are still fresh in my mind. So many times I doubted myself for my capability, and I ran into so many frustrations during my journey studying abroad. I had times when I tried so hard that I burned myself, and I had times when I didnt work hard enough that I had regrets. A valuable lesson, however, I have learned from my experiences and the same lesson Im still learning is not to be afraid to make a change because of the negative aspects of your childhood or your past experiences. Its never too late to try.



Event: LUJA Launch Party

LUJA is hosting a launch party for Volume 2. Meet the LUJA team at Veritas Caf this Thursday evening.


The Ivory Tower and Video Games: A Marriage Made in Virtual Heaven?

By: Lindsay Meaning

So, I didnt end up getting much done last week. Nineteenth century London needed to be liberated from the grasp of the Templars; my zipline and hidden blade were absolute necessities in the fight for freedom. I thought that yesterday I might be able to get ahead on my massive to-do list, but it turns out that a group of refugees in post-apocalyptic Boston desperately needed my help killing Raiders and establishing a settlement. I spent three hours carefully crafting and placing shacks made out of scavenged steel. I even built them a generator to power their single light bulb. Am I going to need a video game intervention?

The past three weeks have seen the release of two major video games, both continuing popular franchises: Assassins Creed Syndicate and Fallout 4. Rise of the Tomb Raider just dropped for the Xbox, and Star Wars Battlefront is only six days away. That is four full games, all hugely anticipated (by me) and from beloved franchises (well, beloved by me), and all released just at the moment where my essays due dates have started catching up to me like the blue shell in Mario Cart.

Many would say that the embarrassing number of hours that Ive spent attached to my console this semester are a waste of time. That I have a problem with video games and that I should do work or get sleep. I like to take a more positive view of the situation: Im not wasting time with video games, Im doing research!

In the past few years, video games have started to gain a foothold in academia; gaming and games are, slowly but surely, becoming seen as something worth studying. This past summer, I attended the Canadian Game Studies Associations conference at the Congress of the Humanities, where scholars presented research on topics like player types and immersion or the impact of micro transactions on in-game symbolic capital. As video gaming has moved from geeky niche to mainstream cultural phenomenon, this kind of scholarship is becoming just as valuable as film or literature studies.

Here at Wilfrid Laurier, the English department offers a course on Gaming and Narrative Theory, with a syllabus that includes Skyrim, Halo, and Call of Duty. Down the road, the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo won a $2.5 million SSHRC grant in order to create a research network for the study of games. We have only begun to scratch the surface of the potential that video games have to enhance education, both as tools themselves and as texts to subject to critical study.

So I might lose a few hours of sleep; I think that pursuing my passion for interactive worlds is worth the sacrifice.

Be Open to Challenges and Enjoy Life With a New Perspective

By Zack (Guanglong) Pang

We like to do what were good at and be in a community that we are comfortable with. Imagine when you get off a plane and your whole world has changed. You see signs in the airport written in a foreign language. People have different faces than you are used to seeing in your hometown, and people behave and greet each other differently than the way you have been used to. How would you feel? Excited, unsure, or wanting to grab on to someone whos from the same background so you can share your feelings with them? Lets move on to another scenario.

Imagine you have been living in a foreign country for a month. Now all your excitement is almost gone and whats left are your concerns. Questions doubting yourself are emerging. How will you be successful if you even get nervous when ordering a donut in Tim Hortons? How can you enjoy yourself in a restaurant if you get overwhelmed when asked by the food server about your preference of sauce for chicken fingers? What should you do if the grocery cashier gives you the wrong change and you cant argue because of your language? Thats how life proceeds for most international students at the beginning when they leave their comfortable homeland and come here to study in Canada. At least thats how I felt when I got off my sixteen-hour flight from China.

My Canadian life began as a student in an English school, LEAF, affiliated with Wilfrid Laurier. I had a solid English foundation and after the entrance exam I was put in level five, which was the highest level. Right before the exam, someone told me if I get put in level 1, I cant retake the exam. That means I have to climb all the way up to level five and each level is one school semester. That would be a huge waste of money and time for someone like me who has parents expecting me to graduate as early as possible. I took a deep breath and switched myself on to beast mode for the exam. A few days later, I was happy as a puppy when I noticed I got into level five. By now you probably would assume that my English is very good, maybe better than many Canadian students French. I thought I was on the top level of English and would do fine in university without working extra hard than Canadian students. Truth is, being a proficient language learner still has many challenges that take time to improve compared to a native speaker. Soon, I discovered the challenge when I continued study in Canada.

After graduating from LEAF, I officially became a Laurier student. But because I started school in the winter, I couldnt take any core courses. I loved geography and natural science in high school so I took some cool elective courses. Even though I enjoyed the course material a lot, the barrier that my English set up for me forced me to spend six to eight hours reading each chapter. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone every day. Homesickness left my face covered in tears. I used to love to exercise very much and I gave that up in order to spend time on my class assignments. Hard work really paid off and I felt much achieved. I wrapped up my first university semester with having one of my final exams on my birthday. It turned out to be the best birthday gift ever in my life and I went on the happy journey back to China. A feeling I never felt so strong before arose that hard work can be sweeter than maple syrup.

In order to expose myself more to the English-speaking environment, I moved in with four Canadian students when I returned to Canada after my summer trip back home. But it was not as easy as I thought. Again my English level was far behind compared to my four lovely Canadian roommates. They were all very energetic guys and talked a lot. I always tried my best to give them my smiles even though most frequently I felt I was left out and marginalized during their conversations. I felt satisfied though because I was in a situation where I could always practice my English, but I didnt know what to talk about and most importantly, I worried that I may bore them. Now we have been living together for three years and one time I asked them if I was like an outlier in the first year. To my surprise, they told me that a lot of the time they were trying to involve me in what they did but they didnt want to offend me. I immediately realized that I was respected, not marginalized. I guess when youre alone in a foreign country, life will always be tricky and unpredictably fun and the point is dont get discouraged when faced with dilemmas.

In order to gain valuable professional experiences, I continued to walk on the edge of my comfort zone by getting involved on campus. With ambition but no previous experience, I applied for the position of International Student Peer Mentor. Even though the employers specified that they only wanted a second year or above student, they made an exception because of my sincerity and interview skill, which was to my surprise. My confidence was soaring like a bird and this position turned out to be the milestone for my university life. I took on many new positions later on, such as the International Ambassador. Now I work for the Writing Centre as an assistant. This is another challenging opportunity to further push myself.As an international student whose first language is not English, being surrounded by all those excellent writers will definitely pressure me in a good way.

From the past experiences I have learned that taking efforts to train yourself to be flexible and to reach out to challenges is one of the most beneficial and straightforward ways for self-improvement. My purpose to write this blog is to encourage whoever is reading it. Whether international, exchange or domestic students to constantly refine your skills by confronting challenges in your life. I hope people who are struggling in the situation that I was in can be inspired and be brave enough to walk on the edge of their comfort zone. I hope my experience has intrigued Canadian students to go abroad to give themselves an unforgettable chance to truly challenge themselves.

Tips for International Students Coping with Culture Shock

Tips for International Students Coping With Culture Shock

Jianan Mo

As an international student on campus, you may love the local food, the environment of studying, and life without your parents in the first two or three months after leaving your home country. However, any honeymoon time eventually ends and culture shock becomes apparent. A definition of culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country (Wikipedia). When I was in first year of my studies at Laurier, I experienced culture shock. The following are suggestions Im giving for dealing with thistough and missing home stage:

1.Make friends and develop long-term relationships.

Making friends means making friends not only with someone from the local culture, but also someone from your own culture. Developing relationships with local friends is good for international students to learn about new cultures. Local friends can be local culture dictionaries for international students. When a cultural situation happens, this dictionary can answer many types of cultural questions for you. For example, when I was in my first year at Laurier, I was invited to attend a party hosted by a local family. I asked my friends for any gift suggestions to bring to the party. They told me a thank-you card would be the best fit. I learned that a native friend would help you to deal with the adjustment stage of culture shock smoothly by teaching you culture-related knowledge.

Making friends with someone who has the same culture with you is also important. Friends who come from the same culture will easily understand your culture-related problems and can better help you to deal with problems. If you dont have a friend with the same culture, you could feel lonely. For example, as an international student, you might want to celebrate your national holidays in traditional style but none of your native friends would understand what the holidays mean.

2.Do something you did in your home country.

Cooking the food you like, listening to the music in your home language, and celebrating the national holidays would make you feel as comfortable as what you did in your home country. When I missed my family in my first year, I always cooked food in my traditional way and invited my friend to enjoy with me.

Keeping in touch with your parents and friends in your hometown could also be helpful. Keeping in touch makes you feel like your parents are with you. Therefore, you will feel less lonely. Also, keeping in touch with your parents and friends is really important when you experienced something unpleasant.

3.Go travelling.

Travelling around the new country could help you find something new, so you wont always think about your home country. If you dont have time or money, bring a camera and go for a walk just outside your house. Going for a walk, speaking with your neighbor and trying to explore how Canadians eat and work could help you to understand and accept the new culture!

To sum up, making friends, doing something you did in your home country and going on a trip are the three things I recommend to cope with culture shock!



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