International (and domestic) students often overlook amazing services that are provided for them in university. Yes, we might go to class and join international student barbecues, but when we need services like medical or translation services, we often leave campus and seek service providers that speak our tongues or operate in the way that we know.
Let’s not forget that there are resources everywhere in a university that often does not cost a dime! Here are some:
1. Student Legal Services
You may encounter legal difficulty as you navigate your university studies, which can be very stressful and expensive to deal with. However, when students face issues like grade dispute, discrimination ,or copyright-related concerns, they tend to seek consultation elsewhere while overlooking student legal services offered to them on campus.
Not wise. Your school likely has one such service for free. For example, York University has a legal group where law students offer free services like notarization and student representation for tribunals, while being guided by experienced lawyers. More information here.
How to start using this resource: just keep in mind that there are free legal services for you, on campus, and on demand! Give them a call next time you need legal advice.
2. University Health services
A university often have on-site health care services and pharmacy. While they may not do operations, they are often a good first point of professional medical diagnosis. They can help you with issues anywhere from a flu to prenatal care.
Going on a trip? They can provide health and travel counselling, as well as essential vaccinations.
Change of seasons? Get a flu shot.
Panicking about increased nose bleed? See a family doctor.
Bad stomach after the school lunch? Get some diagnosis.
All these, between classes!
Many universities, like University of Manitoba, even have after-hours emergency hotline for the undesirable late night medical issues. (See University of Manitoba University Health Service http://umanitoba.ca/student/health/about_uhs.html)
How to start using this resource: Get your flushots not at the pharmacy, but on campus. In the mean time, start making appointments with the university health services the next time you come down with a cough and a fever.
3. Student Wellness/Counselling Services
Student counselling services are horribly overlooked. Those who are in a foreign environment can often feel lost, lonely, and homesick. These symtoms, if not treated early, can multiply when you encounter other quibbles like a quarrel at the library or a rude passerby at the lunch line. These easily cascade into feelings of rejection, bad grades, failed courses, and even depression.
While you can plan to bury your head into a pile of book and solve for happiness like solving a differential equation, the truth is if you are not doing well in life, you cannot learn well in the classroom. Depression is common, and is curable. You can get help!
How to start using this resource: these services usually organise free short yoga or mindfulness workshop. Join them and meet people. They also often have hotline: if you need to talk, simply pick up the phone and call them!
4. Student Union
Student union is one of the most overlooked resources by international students. Owing perhaps to cultural backgrounds where student or youth activism is not vibrant, some students think that a group of students with actual negotiation power with an institution like the university is unheard of.
But do you know that the student union does not just hold elections and freshman party? If you have any grievances to air, contact the student union. One of their responsibilities is to stick up for students. If you ever want to found a drone flying club, contact the student union. They often stand behand student activities and groups, with annual budget to support a lively student community. If you want to draw chalk advertisement on the pedway, contact the student union! They are buddies with the facilities department and would be advise you what to do before you go down with vandalism charges.
Some student unions do advocacy. For example, many fairly-priced student insurance and transport cards are a results of their negotiation with companies and the university administration. An instance is Mount Royal University, whose Students’ Association held and passed a referendum for the university UPass, joining the movement in Calgary that started in 2001.
How to start using this resource: Start reading student union email snewsletters, and/or know where their office is located to drop by when you have a need!