First Person: Change can be hard, but it’s necessary for a well-lived life

“Next in line please.” Fully encapsulated in a medical protection suit, the immigration officer still managed to welcome me with a genuine smile, visible through her eyes. “Eyes don’t lie,” I remembered my grandma telling me. I wished she was there with me, telling me I was doing great, just like she always did. It […]
Photo: Guillaume Laflamme
Studying in Canada has lead me to unexpected places and instilled in me the value of embracing changes.

“Next in line please.”

Fully encapsulated in a medical protection suit, the immigration officer still managed to welcome me with a genuine smile, visible through her eyes.

“Eyes don’t lie,” I remembered my grandma telling me.

I wished she was there with me, telling me I was doing great, just like she always did.

It was a Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, and just like any other Thursday during the pandemic, people at the Halifax airport where I’d just landed all seemed terrified.

It was also the Thursday where I boarded a one-way flight for the first time.

Apart from the exhaustion caused by over a 30-hour flight between Shanghai and Halifax, my heart was filled with excitement.

Growing up in China, I always hated our education system. It was tedious, strict and “sucks your soul out of your body,” as my friends put it. I’ve finally had enough of it coming out of high school, and I told my parents I wanted to study abroad.

“Go study computer science then,” they told me. “It’s the future.”

Despite never being interested in mathematics, 18-year-old-me would do anything just to escape the country’s education system.

So, 18-year-old me, boarded the flight to Halifax to study computer science at Dalhousie University, with little regret.

Little did I know that this journey would lead me to unexpected places and instill in me the value of embracing changes.

I wasn’t lying about not liking math. Although I can speak four languages fluently, programming languages and algorithms were definitely not something I was able to grasp.

“Sometimes I wish all the stereotypes were real and I could be master in math,” I thought to myself.

For countless nights I wanted to just pack my stuff and head back home. Then I would feel guilty wasting the tuition money, and I was too afraid to just tell everyone I know that I just decided to drop out.

Finally, two months in Halifax, one night, I called my grandma and told her I was struggling with school.

“You were brave enough to leave the country, why stick to something you don’t like?” she said. “Even if you managed to graduate, do you really want to do a job that you hate for the rest of your life?”

“Take a deep breath, you’re doing great.”

Looking back from now, those words changed the course of my life.

I’d always been interested in journalism when I was a kid, going to different places to report on breaking news seems like such great adventures to me.

One night at waterfront in Halifax, I decided that journalism was the right choice for me. So on Aug. 14th, 2022, I boarded a one-way flight, for the second time, to the country’s capital.

I’m not alone in having made a big life-changing program switch. While I was working on this story, an old friend I made when I first came to Canada came to my head.

Ruslan Barshpol, dropped out of his linguistics program back in Ukraine and came to Canada to pursue his studies in forestry.

“You don’t decide to make changes in your life because it is the easy thing to do,” he told me over the phone. “You do it because it is the necessary thing, life is too short and no one deserves to be stuck with something they hate for their entire life.”

For me, transition into new program wasn’t easy. Yet with each journalistic assignment, I felt a renewed sense of fulfillment. The initial “life decision” I made moving to Halifax was merely a stepping stone, a detour that eventually led me to explore my true passions.

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