‘Why I came to Concordia … from the United Arab Emirates’
Afroza Khanam Chowdhury never saw snow before she moved to Montreal from Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.
The first-year undergraduate student in mechanical engineering has become accustomed to it — alongside the other wonders Montreal has to offer.
“I was brought up amidst the sand and the heat of the United Arab Emirates,” says Chowdhury. “Montreal’s weather is a welcome change — albeit a harsh one at times!”
When she is not busy crunching numbers in class, Chowdhury can be found working on all sorts of different projects on and off campus.
‘I have met some of the kindest people here’
Why did you choose Concordia, and how did you first learn about it?
Concordia’s impressive Mechanical Engineering program was a draw, as was Montreal’s vibrant culture. I was also attracted to the city because it has one of the largest aerospace clusters in the world.
I first heard about Concordia when my brother came to Montreal three years ago and he had a lot of good things to say about the university! He is about to graduate from Vanier College, and though he has never been a student at Concordia, he has heard many good things about it.
What are your favourite things about Montreal?
The people are so lively and welcoming. There isn’t a day that goes by when I am not amazed by everyone’s vim and vigour. I have also met some of the kindest people here who have become like family to me. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by a mix of people from different backgrounds who all accept one another for who they are.
The city is so well connected thanks to its public transit system. It’s easy for newcomers to get around without getting lost and it only takes a short while to get from one corner of the city to another. Bonus points for the reduced fare for students!
What do you hope to gain from your degree?
I hope my degree not only equips me with the knowledge and skills that are required in my line of work, but that it also teaches me the value of perseverance and dedication. I want to contribute to progress — whether by building satellites alongside other scientists and engineers, or finding cleaner and more efficient ways to harness energy.
What are you involved in outside of class, and why? How would you describe the experience?
I am involved in the mechanical team of the satellite division at Space Concordia, a multi-disciplinary student-led engineering club.
I also serve as the director of women’s centre outreach for Concordia’s Women in Engineering. This year, we’ve reached out to local women's centres to offer computer and language classes. It is such a rewarding experience to work with an amazing team and a great bunch of volunteers. Not only do I get to connect with like-minded people, but I can share my passion with the community and learn how to deal with problems outside the classroom.
Finally, I’m working with the Student Success Centre as a macroeconomics study group leader. The team I currently work with is a great bunch, and we offer learning services to students, among many other services.
What are your top three pieces of advice for international students at Concordia?
- Talk to people and get involved on campus. It may seem intimidating at first but you will develop a wealth of local knowledge. You’ll also feel more at home when you have a list of fun things to do and friends to talk to. Walk around campus, volunteer for things that interest you and feel the magic!
- Cook at home or look for free food spots. Not only will you keep your pocketbook in check, you’ll also eat healthier and master the recipe from Mom that you've been craving. If you don't have time to cook, make sure to check out the People’s Potato on the seventh floor of the Hall Building!
- Find a balance between adapting to a new environment and keeping your principles intact. Doing that will bring out the best in you.
What is your favourite spot on campus, and why?
It’s a tie between the Concordia Greenhouse and the People's Potato. If you’re looking for a quick break or a peaceful space to study, the Greenhouse is a relaxing spot. The People's Potato serves delicious potatoes and is where I meet the most wonderful people!
Find out more about Concordia admissions for international students.
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