International Student Finds Home at Grebel

Thursday, April 14, 2022

“Being an international student can usually be challenging, but having a supporting environment eases your adaptation,” said Thalia Stefania Criollo Guerrero an international student from Galápagos Islands, Ecuador.  She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music at Conrad Grebel University College and the University of Waterloo. Before coming to Grebel, Thalia was worried about not fitting in, however, she felt a sense of community as soon as she arrived at the College.  

“I was not the only international student,” said Thalia. “Here I have also met friends for life from multiple backgrounds, not just cultures, but also with identities and sets of beliefs different than mine. I cannot promise it is going to be exactly like home, but for sure the love and support of people will feel like family.” 

Thalia currently lives at Grebel, and she finds it to be an enjoyable and sociable environment. “I was surprised about the true commitment to community,” she explained. “From day one, everybody contributes and promotes a peaceful and supportive living environment. I have noticed it even in what seem like small actions.”  

 Moving far away from home and family was challenging for Thalia, but Grebel’s supportive and encouraging community helped ease some of the difficulties she faced. “At Grebel, you will meet first-year/upper-year, national/international, and all students from all faculties,” she said. “You can get suggestions from the experience of upper-year students or reflect with others overcoming similar challenges. It does not matter how huge or small your problem is, there is always a way to cope with it and solve it.” 

Living at Grebel allowed Thalia to adapt to a completely different environment and make some valuable connections. “The most significant and everyday practice Grebel fosters in the dining room is Fill the Table,” shared Thalia. “I have had the opportunity to share the table with many residents, professors, and staff members and to always have fun and engaging conversations. This is a lovely tradition that reminds us that we all are part of the Grebel community.” 

By Ashitha Mantrawadi