Navigating International Remote Learning

By Mount Royal University Modified on August 12, 2020

Adapting to online learning as a new student in a new country.

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An international student takes part in online courses from a Canadian university.

Finding where you belong

When navigating a new learning environment or city, it's nice to have a friend who understands what you're going through. Mount Royal University's New Student Orientation (NSO) is designed to help new international students find their footing and foster new relationships with other students.

"Of course it won't be the same as in-person orientation, but we are going above and beyond to give them extra support to bridge that gap," says Vanessa Jarmuske, a coordinator in International Education. One of these efforts is a Facebook group specifically created for new international students to interact with others in their cohort, as well as a Facebook page for the MRU International Student Support Centre.

If you get stuck, don't hesitate to reach out. "We do our best to connect with new students but it's important for them to be curious and get outside their comfort zone to ask questions," says Jessica Mossière, also a coordinator in International Education. "Any questions you have, we've probably heard before, and if we don't have the answer we'll find it for you. We're here to help," she says.

If you're new to Canada, or just new to Calgary, being comfortable in the city you live (or may not live, just yet!) is important. Connecting with local students online to immerse yourself in the culture and explore the city with a virtual buddy is a great idea.

Ensuring academic success

While remote learning is often perceived as an inconvenience, that's not the case. "Online learning has a lot of benefits for international students," says Silvia Rossi, a writing and learning strategist with Student Learning Services. "In an online environment, you have more time to think through your responses to questions asked by the instructor and more time to construct questions of your own. It can also be less intimidating to contact your instructors through email or virtual office hours."

Although you may be physically apart throughout the semester, you don't have to feel alone. "When taking on alternative learning, don't isolate yourself. Make connections with your instructors, with other students and use the resources that are available," says Rossi. "It is not only okay, but expected, for students to ask questions when they have doubts and ask for help when they need it."

In any new endeavour, mistakes are inevitable. "Learning doesn't happen unless you take a certain amount of risk," says Rossi. "Be courageous and know that you are going to make mistakes, but build relationships with people you trust so that you can talk through those mistakes," she advises.

Learning services for you

Planning for success in your courses is made easy through Mount Royal's plentiful student resources. Exploring which resources will benefit you most over the course of your studies will set you up for success, should you happen to need the help.

"The Peer Learning Program, for example, provides help not only on the academic side of things, but also on the personal side," says Rossi. She elaborates, "What a lot of students don't understand is that while, yes, you're signing up to get help with a course, you're actually joining a community. Joining the Peer Learning Program or the MAPS Peer Mentorship Program isn't a sign of weakness; these programs provide you with a ready-made group of people that you're going to get to know and connect with."

Student Learning Services offer a variety of resources to help students with their studies, including online webinars, workshops, appointments and peer mentorship programs. Mount Royal also offers wellness help, peer support, career planning help and much more.


Learn more about student services at Mount Royal University

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