ICSN: An international support system

ICSN at a Blue Jays game Settling into a new place is generally a difficult adjustment.  Now, imagine moving to a new country, where everyone speaks a completely different language and you have little knowledge of its cultural history.  To top that off, you’re supposed to be starting a new semester at a brand new institution.  There’s the added pressure to get involved on campus, make friends and stay on top of your schoolwork. 
 
We know how stressful it can be to start a new school term as an international or exchange student.  The University of Waterloo offers an extensive amount of resources and services for students coming from a variety of countries, one of which is the International and Canadian Student Network, otherwise known as the ICSN.  They throw a series of events each term to help international students adjust to this huge change in their lives, as well as meet others who are going through similar experiences.
 
I got the chance to chat with Shashwat Pratap, your residential ICSN expert – and one of the coordinators this term.  He gave me the run down on what ICSN is, what he does, and how students can get involved with the network. 
 

Q: Okay, let’s start with the basics.  Where are you from and what are you studying at Waterloo? 

Shashwat: I came to Waterloo from India, I’m studying Computer Science, and yes – the program gets rough sometimes.

Q: Any hobbies?

S: Coding (of course), solving Rubik’s cubes and playing badminton!

Q: Besides ICSN, are there any clubs or organizations you’re a part of?

S: I’m a part of the University of Waterloo Rubik’s Cube club, Badminton Club, and Computer Science Club. Oh, wow – I just realized that I’m actually a part of every club that I have listed as my hobby.  Haha, time to find some new hobbies!

Q: So, why did you decide to join ICSN?  Why is it important to you? 

S: Being an international student at UWaterloo myself, I know how tough and lonely life can get for an international or exchange student sometimes. Having settled down and finally found my stride, I would love to help other students find their stride as well, and of course help them get accustomed to the awesome Canadian culture!

Q: Can you tell me about your role as a coordinator?

S: Service coordinators are responsible for developing and maintaining the overall vision and goals of ICSN.  We’re responsible for managing, motivating and advising the executive team, as well as the general volunteers for ICSN. 

Q: What can students expect to experience when participating in events hosted by ICSN?

Students showing buttons from ICSN boothS: You can meet a lot of new people from different cultures and backgrounds!  Come hang out with us, and be a part of the huge cultural fusion that occurs at almost every event held by ICSN.  Get a taste of the Canadian culture and learn the UWaterloo way of doing things (e.g. “Thank Mr Goose”, wink wink).  We also provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for people to express their ideas and practice their English speaking skills. 

Q: Did ICSN host anything for International Education Week?  Or, are there future events we can look forward to?

S: We are hosting our regular weekly events – Babble Café, and Cultural Connections!  Check out this poster for all the info you need to know.
 
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