Today on #StudentDiaries we are taking you all the way to Canada as Mayowa Adebajo shares his experience there as an undergraduate.
Can you tell us the name of your university and what you studied?
University of Guelph Humber (UGH) and I have a degree in Media Studies (BAA), with an emphasis in Digital Communications.
Why did you choose to study Media Studies at UGH?
It was a personal choice. I had a talent in and passion for media usage and design. I chose UGH because when I was coming into Canada, I wanted to study PR and it was the only institution which had that specific course. Needless to say, I didn’t end up emphasizing in PR before graduation (but in Digital Comm.).
What are the requirements needed to study the course?
Grades over 75% or so in 5 high school courses including Maths and English if I remember correctly. And a grade average over 75%; the closer to 100% the higher your admission chances over other applicants (as expected).
Can you tell us the major difference between education in Nigeria and in Canada?
Bluntly, with education in Canada you’re not required to cram knowledge but you must be able to understand knowledge to the point where you can personally apply it. For example you’re not required to just know and define what the phrase “the medium is the message” is as defined by your professor. In Canada you’re required to explain with examples what “the medium is the message” means – to you. .
How easy is it to mix studying with having a part time job?
I did two part time on-campus jobs and managed to graduate with a distinction grade. Many students on campus tend to have part-time jobs, so it’s the norm. So I’ll say it’s doable. However, it is not necessarily easy unless you’re consciously developing your time-management skills. I’ll advise that one get a part-time job that is on campus or close to campus to start with because I found that working (part-time) far from my campus affected my time for studying negatively as opposed to when I was working on campus (and my grades improved).
What advantage has getting a degree in Canada given you?
Getting my degree got me a media job (a job in my field) in Canada right after graduation which is quite unique and praiseworthy. Prior to my degree I did lesser paying jobs which were not particularly ‘media’ jobs, by the way.
What are the things prospective students need to know about studying in Canada?
A lot of people I know tend to get better paying jobs after they’ve completed some level of education in Canada. Precisely, in Canada, there’s something called ‘Canadian experience’ and it means that employers check to see if you have educational experience or years of work experience in this country before they decide to hire you. Another thing is to get involved in part-time work while studying, or join a club on campus, or do some volunteering while you study, to show employers that you have some sort of work experience, and that you’re not just all about studying but applying knowledge. This also shows that you can work with others (Toronto being a multi-cultural society) to achieve a common goal.
Can you evaluate the method of teaching used? In what ways did it help your overall learning experience?
Some interesting examples of methods used include:
1. In a certain media class we were not required to do any exams or tests but to create a blog online and submit a post each week of about 300 – 500 words max on the things we learned in class that week. This method was very practical and really challenged me to think creatively about the topics discussed in class every week. It’s the difference between active learning and passive learning and the former lasts memory longer in the memory.
2. In another class called ‘Presentations and Persuasions’ we had no exams or tests but every other week each student was given 2 minutes each to present a speech to the entire class on whatever topic they wanted. However the week before each presentation our lecturer would teach us how to present a type of speech: demonstrative, persuasive or informative, etc. for us to prepare accordingly.
In essence, many of my media classes were not just focused on the regular teach-test-assignment-exam method as is common in Nigerian education. The methods used here were very practical/hands-on, preparing me for the ‘real world’.
What challenges did you face while studying your course?
I’m glad I got through university with an excellent grade after all, so there’s not much to complain about after the fact. However, having to work part-time and focus on school was a challenge I’m glad I took and overcame (as it had paid off with my employment today). Like I said earlier, it’s not necessarily easy, it can be stressful but it’s really part of the learning process that can help you apply knowledge learned in class towards work/business results. I think one main challenge I also faced was maybe not having as much money as I’d have wanted during the semester sometimes. But in hindsight it wasn’t that bad really. Although in the moment you tend to feel it at times, depending on where you’re getting your funding from and/or how much you’re paid at work, etc.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Overcoming the money challenge, thankfully I lived at home and so my mum would make me lunch to take to school whenever I couldn’t afford to buy lunch on campus anymore, plus I’d come home to eat dinner and wake up to eat breakfast too. Other than that, I just had to discipline myself and cut down on my expenses – no more snacks, no more new clothes, no more outings, etc. And as for balancing work and studies, my answer – after crying to God for help (so necessary) – would usually be: better time-management application.
If you could choose somewhere else to study, where would you choose?
I don’t regret my course of educational career at all, but since you ask: In Canada, it may be York University, because it has a more sizeable population of Nigerians. In Nigeria, it would be Covenant University because I always wanted to complete my educational pursuit in Nigeria, although I’m grateful I’m a graduate of UGH.
How can prospective students make the most of their stay in Canada?
Extend your experience beyond the books and studying, try to get to learn about the people, the culture, get a job if you can, make friends from other races and join a club on campus if you can.
Any other advice?
If you love what you study, your experience would be much easier. I switched from emphasizing in PR to Digital Comm because PR required much more writing which I wasn’t as passionate about as I was for digital design. Overall, I had better grades in design courses (90% and above) rather than in my media writing courses (60’s and 70’s) and this ultimately reflected in my final results and quality of education.
Are you a graduate? Are you currently studying at a university in Nigeria or you are studying abroad? Share your experience with us. Prospective students have a lot to learn from you. You can send us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at us. You can also send us a message on Facebook. We would love to hear from you.