Digital Stories - International Students

Below you will find 3 stories about international students in Scarborough and Toronto.  Each story takes a specific angle on international student experience, the hopes for staying in Canada or returning to students' country of origin, and the stereotypes associated with international students. While not all descriptions are accompanied by the digital story produced by Sociology D 15 students, due to participants' wishes for confidentiality, we have included screenshots and quotations of student work.  

Debunking Stereotypes of International Students by Daniel Mark, Mark Roy and Tyler Lee 

Daniel, Mark and Tyler were also interested in the experiences of international students.  However, they were influenced by a newspaper article published in the summer of 2015 of a Vietnamese international student who experienced homelessness during his studies.  They wanted to see whether the stereotype of wealthy international students was a reality.  While during their interviews they found that participants had enough family and other resources to live and study in Canada, they also explored how participants' spending habits changed given the fact that they felt a sense of responsibility to their friends and families back home.  Like Yiu and Cheung, they also advocate for debunking the portrayal of international students as ecomomic units and understanding their needs and experiences more fully.  Due to participant confidentiality, their video is not publicly available. However, here's an excerpt of their analysis: 

"When international students are framed by negative stereotypes, such as being excessively wealthy, they become treated in a highly detached manner (Zhang & Zhang, 2013).  Rather than being characterized by some of the positive aspects (for example, by adding diversity to the student body, creating a sense of community and belonging for overseas students, and bringing money to the University that can create jobs and build new infrastructure) (Sawir et al., 2009), international students are increasingly less as individuals and more as economic commodities (Yi & Yung, 2001)." 

Daniel, Mark and Tyler working on their project at the UTSC computer lab 

Playing Social Games: International Students at the University of Toronto and the Importance of Soft Skills by Silvia Serpas Hidalgo 

Serpa's project also focused on international students, but she was interested in what made students decide to return to their countries of origin post university.  Serpas begins with the premise that university education, and the place from which we earn a degree is becoming increasingly important as reported by local news outlets: 

Serpas asked participants what skills international students thought would be important to bring back home with them.  "Canadian Experience" seemed to be a popular respose - both in terms of cultural/social experiences while at the University of Toronto, as well as the "soft skills" learned.  She concludes by stating: "[International] University students with intentions to return home after graduation tend to come to the University of Toronto for a 'Canadian Experience' but soon realize the importance of soft skills, which play a large role in their personal and professional lives" 


International Students and Language Barriers while Studying in Canada by Amanda Yiu and Lesley Cheung  

In this project, Yiu and Cheung were interested in examining the experiences of international students at UTSC. After conducting interviews, they decided to focus on how language barriers affect international students' sense of belonging on campus.  They propose an increase of the number and visibility of resources available to students.   


Immigrant Scarborough - SOCD15 - International Students and Language Barriers