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International students enjoying first winter in the north

'At first when I first saw snow, I was very overwhelmed, I wanted to see it and touch it ... But now, I think we’ve had enough of it.' laughs one student

International students from Université de Hearst are enjoying their first winter.

“It can be hard to get out into the cold when you’re not used to it,” said Simone Amagnamoua, the student affairs assistant for Université de Hearst, who came to Timmins from Cameroon. “It’s easier to do when you have someone else with you.”

The students bundled up, with hand-warmers and toques and gloves before doing a little yoga and hiking down to Hersey Lake from their residence on Jubilee Avenue. 

Lancine Dosso and Tahirou Diallo both moved to Timmins six months ago. While they were excited for the snow, it was something of a novelty.

“At first when I first saw snow, I was very overwhelmed, I wanted to see it and touch it,” said Dosso with a bit of a laugh. “But now, I think we’ve had enough of it.”

Both men said they are enjoying their experiences so far, but there have been some hurdles in getting settled.

“Most of us don’t speak English, and it’s compulsory in these jobs and positions,” said Dosso. “It’s very stressful, you are here and you try to apply to any position, update your resume, and there’s no result.”

Diallo agreed that the language barrier can make staying in the area harder.

“Even if you speak English, it’s hard to be considered,” he said. “I don’t like big cities, and Timmins could give us a chance to show our skills.”

They said that a lack of employment for students can be a reason that some chose not to stay.

“The people in Timmins are so kind, so we want students like us to have good experiences here,” said Diallo.

Some of the challenges of coming to a whole new place have inspired some growth though.

Dosso misses African food and finds it hard to find some vegetables and spices.

“Before I came here, I didn’t cook, when I was at home my mom did all that, and now I’m remembering what she would do and trying it for myself,” said Dosso. “But people say practice makes perfect.”

He said that having a taste of home, and learning to cook the things he was craving has helped.

According to Diallo, he has succeeded and he got a chance to share his cooking with his fellow students after the group finished their hike with Rebel Soul down to Hersey Lake and back to the student residence.

“There are dishes from all different countries,” said Amagnaoua. “And it will help us warm up.”

Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

About the Author: Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

Amanda Rabski-McColl is a Diversity Reporter under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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