I am an International student recently admitted at York University, Canada in the BA. Hons Financial and Business Economics program. I would like to take this opportunity to describe my background because to understand why someone is asking for money for their plane tickets, it is important to know them and their backstory.
I would like to take this opportunity to present myself as a person who has always wanted more when it comes to learning and gaining experiences to hone my leadership skills. In retrospect, having had the privilege of my parents’ support and motivation, there was not a time when I would not be pursuing some skill or the other. Hence, unlike others, I found myself loving every subject from academic to creative areas. However, due to institutions putting more focus on book knowledge I was missing out on many basic life skills such as handling money, taking a well thought decision, or as simple as doing grocery. So, when the time came to choose subjects for O Levels, and I had to choose between Computer Science and Economics due to class time clash, I wanted to take Economics. My parents advised me to choose otherwise. Alongside excelling in my Pure Science subjects, my curiosity for commerce kept increasing. After finishing O Levels with a Daily Star Award for 6A* and 2A, I had fixed my aim to be an Entrepreneur; preferably in the scientific field to utilize both subjects.
With a result of 3 As and 1 B in AS Level, I applied to and started my Foundation in Commerce at Curtin University, Malaysia (a branch of an Australian University nearer to my home country) – passing with a CGPA of 79.33, 4 High Distinctions and 2 Distinctions. The knowledge acquired at Curtin helped me find and narrow down my passion to Economics and Accounting.
My decision to study Financial and Business Economics at York evolved through a series of events and stabilized for various reasons. After completing my Foundation, I had been admitted to the B Com in Finance and Accounting program at Curtin. However, when I came back home during the break between Foundation and Undergrad, not a single person had known about Curtin University until I told them. After consulting with my parents, classmates doing their undergrad in other countries, and my Father’s colleagues, I realized that only degrees from the west, especially from Canada, USA and UK are valued highly in my home country; I was about to get a degree from Sarawak.
A friend of mine from Curtin had transferred to Canada to University of Manitoba, and he also said that my career prospect will be way better if I get a degree from Canada. This prompted me to make a decision which will ensure full optimization of my education. Getting a degree in UK was off limits since the living costs are quite high, and most of the USA’s best Universities’ application deadlines were over, let alone the high costs and low acceptance rate. Canada was the best choice. I applied for a withdrawal from Curtin, cancelled my Malaysian Student Visa, quickly registered for the soonest Computer based IELTS, flew back home on 2019-02-26, prepared for two days and sat for IELTS on 2019-03-01 – passing with an overall 8.0 band. I had applied to University of Calgary (B Com in Business Technology Management), York University, and Trent University considering the factors of budget, program, ranking, numbers of acquaintances who can help in case of any emergency, and safety. Upon receiving letters of offer from York University and University of Calgary, based on higher ranking and reputation in my country, the offered subject and its career prospect, I chose York University.
I wanted to get into the IBBA program offered by Shulich School of Business, but the deadline for application was over so I had applied to York’s B Com in Commerce (Management) instead which seemed good to me. York made me an alternate program offer for Financial and Business Economics which was evidently a better choice for me because there's a Delayed Entry Program by Shulich that lets you enter the IBBA program in 2nd year and has various prerequisites that I can and am taking now in my Liberal Arts program. However, where students take maximum 3 courses per term, I'm having to take 5 in Fall and 6 in Winter. My Dad has now the burden of paying more than double the first year cost estimation sent by York during my visa processing. The program works like this, that if you have the prerequisite courses and do really well in them, then you can apply and they will give you permission to take two shulich basic accounting courses during summer term, and if you excel in those courses, only then will be admitted and be able to start ibba in the following fall term. Now, if I hadn't aimed for the IBBA program, I would be blessed and privileged to go back to my Mom, Dad, and beloved little sister and spend 4 whole months of summer vacation with them. But now my fate is hanging in the balance because if i manage to get to the summer courses, I will have to stay away from my family for the summer, following Fall, and winter until the next summer in 2021. My only other option is to visit them during the winter break from 23rd December, 2019 to 3rd January, 2020.
Now, you may ask why I am so desperate to see my family. To be honest, until last winter, I didn't have much of a bond with my family. I used to try to avoid them as much as possible. During studying at Curtin, whenever I went back home for semester break, I used to count days till my return to the life of 'Freedom'. But, all good things at one point becomes bad; the backstabbing by friends, the money crisis, the stress of managing everything and living up to expectations, a broken heart broken too many times didn't take long to follow. By the end of the year, I was a broken, vulnerable and helpless girl crying myself to sleep every night but not being able to tell anyone. I was then counting, days, minutes and seconds to just go home and sink deep into my mom's embrace and let my pain out. And I did. The 2.5 months of winter vacation before degree at Curtin was my much sought out rehabilitation. But it wasn't enough. The moment I got back to the Airport in Miri, I couldn't hold back my tears, I couldn't bear the numbing pain in my throat and head.
When the decision was made to transfer to Canada, in the back of my mind, I was the happiest because I would get to be home for 6 whole months before semester starts during fall. And it was in these 6 months that I realized what my Family meant to me. I realized that their is no greater happiness and blessing to have family. Nowadays, most people my age are lost and take their family for granted. When I had lost all hope, support, when every friend, acquaintance and stranger seemed to be vultures circling me, I had started to hate this world and humanity. I despised every human being on this planet and I wanted to kill myself. There were nights when I used to try to suffocate myself and just hope for non-existence. I don't know if you'll understand what I had been through or just laugh it off as another attention seeking wannabe depression case. During the 6 months from March to August, I felt and received true love. Trust me, the truest form of love can only be of your Mother, Father and Sibling/s (if you're lucky enough to have them).
When I came to Canada, my parents had told me to be strong. I really tried hard to keep myself distracted till getting on the plane so that they don't see me crying and become sad. They knew that if I see them crying, I will break down and they kept strong. But I ultimately did cry at the airport. Upon passing immigration and boarding my plane, when I called my younger sister and asked her to hand the phone over to my 'Mummum' and 'Abba', I could sense the pain and see the rolling tears in their mumbling, broken voices. Every time the cabin lights were dimmed, I relieved myself of my silent tears and quickly wiped them off. I couldn't show weakness. I had to be strong.
I came to Canada with with dreams and hope of a better education and an empowered determination to succeed. I had hoped for the summer courses to be available online so that if I get the chance for the delayed entry program, I would still be able to go back home and study from home. Unfortunately, they don't offer it online. So then I planned to go back during the winter break, no matter how small a break it is, and started looking for part time jobs to save money for my flights. I couldn't ask Abba to send me the amount because he's already having to carry the burden of paying double the amount of a first year tuition fee, while the fees for international students are already 3 times higher. However, he would still somehow manage, even if by taking loan from someone if there was more time and if could go back the coming year. This year, he can't bear anymore expenses. I have been dropping resumes everywhere, but this month is already passing by and who knows when they'll call for interviews. If I could start working from September at the minimum wage of $14/hour for 20 hours per week until December, I could save up to $3360 and add $200 from my $500 emergency money to buy at least the lowest Economy class in cheap Airlines. Now, the return tickets aren't normally this high that I would need to have at least $3500, but since my vacation starts just before Christmas, the prices are sky high. In fact, only the longest, more transit including flights of the cheapest airlines are less than $4000 for that time period. I'm confident that I'll definitely land a job by the end of next month, but by then it will be too late for me to earn the minimum flight ticket price for December.
I should be studying now, I should be reading my notes and completing my assignments, but the thought of not being able to see my family before almost 2 years if I cannot earn my flight ticket price for December keeps clawing and devouring me from inside. I know I am a straight A student with many extra curricular skills and talents, but when you're in pain and fear, everything becomes twisted into a dark abyss of hopelessness. I know I was supposed to be strong, but I'm not. Somewhere inside me, I can still find the broken, vulnerable girl whenever I'm alone in a room full of people, whenever I look up from the screen to call "Mummum" and end up staring at the jail door of my room, whenever I go to bed feeling scared to sleep alone without my sister, whenever I need something but can't buy it because my Abba isn't here to fulfill all my necessities. Sometimes I try to reason with myself and try to believe that I can wait for 2 years, but honestly, the more the days pass by the more my desperation, anxiety and depression increases.
Now, can you imagine how an orphan child may feel if I, being privileged in so many areas, feel so helpless and suffocated? Can you imagine how much they have to struggle and the amount of pain and torture they go through in their lives, be it physical or mental? I have always tried to help the unprivileged, and have always sympathized with orphans, elders, and beggars. However, all the things that I've been through and the person I am right now has helped me truly empathize with the children who don't have families to love them deeply, parents to always have their back, siblings to share their pain with.
Hence, to contribute to towards making their life a bit easier while helping myself to overcome my own anxiety and depression, I have taken this initiative to be the medium. Firstly, the amount of money raised by this campaign before December can help me go home to my family in the winter break. Secondly, upon starting to earn, every month I will donate donate $100 to any non-profit organisation based on helping children and orphaned children like Save the Children Canada, Abosamso Orphanage And Charity International,Thrive, UNICEF Canada, etc, until I cover the full amount of funds raised here.
I know my campaign is not like the usual ones with conspicuous donation/charity program, but ultimately, you'll be helping out both an individual person and a lot of children, both parties in crisis.
If there are options for giving updates on the campaign, I will definitely provide proof of ticket purchases, photos of visiting my family and most importantly the subsequent receipts (in person payments) or screenshots (online payments) of donations every month.
In hope that there's more empathy than negligence in this world,
Raisa Zerin Arshi