“It’s a very eye-opening experience. Working with different people from different backgrounds, it helps you grow.”

Khaezel Espiritu

Embarking on a journey to a foreign land without any existing connections can prove to be quite challenging. For international students, this means saying farewell to their family members and friends to pursue their dreams in an unfamiliar territory.

Moving to Canada two years ago, Khaezel Espiritu, a final-year advertising and marketing communications student at Humber College, saw this as an opportunity not only for new experiences but also as a chance to challenge himself.

Originally from the Philippines, Espiritu holds a degree in advertising and public relations and spent a decade working in the social media industry. Freelancing as a specialist, he created content for brands and managed their social media presence.

Despite working in the industry for 10 years, Espiritu mentioned the feeling of repetition. Everything felt the same and monotonous, which drove him on a search for new experiences.

“The reason I wanted to move [to a new country] is because I felt I hit a wall in my career, everything was the same, there was nothing new. I wanted to really challenge myself,” Espiritu said.

Canada stood out as Espiritu’s preferred destination, citing its inclusivity and diversity as key factors. He also noted that the brands he aspires to work for are settled in the country.

Landing on Canadian soil in 2022, Espiritu described the first few months as feeling like “cloud nine.” A realization of a dream boosted by a lot of new opportunities and experiences to embrace.

However, it wasn’t until last year that Espiritu began to feel the challenges of being an international student.

He says these challenges go beyond academic performance, emphasizing that international students have a lot more on their shoulders.

Espiritu highlights that international students have to push themselves to their limits. Focusing on education, self-care and making friends in this new unfamiliar surroundings.

“I realize how much it takes for international students. You have a lot more on your shoulders, you are on your own and you have to juggle all the responsibilities by yourself,” Espiritu said.

Espiritu mentions forming friendships as a pivotal aspect of his transition to life in Canada. He emphasizes that friends played a vital role in his adjustment to the new environment. Offering support and encouragement throughout his journey in the country.

Reflecting on his early days of establishing a life in Canada, Espiritu recalls facing one of his first challenges. After moving to a new country, he eventually began to lose his freelance clients in the Philippines and lost income.

Student life at Humber

Khaezel Espiritu at the Humber College Lakeshore campus.
Photo credits: Khaezel Espiritu.

Uncertain about his future, Espiritu found a job opportunity at Humber just when he needed it most. Embracing his passion for content creation, interviewing people, attending events and sharing stories, Espiritu secured a position as a social media specialist on campus.

“My job at Humber came at the perfect time. Without it, I don’t think I would be able to really have a sustainable life here in Canada,” Espiritu said.

Apart from juggling responsibilities at work and school, Espiritu had a memorable experience that will remain in his memory forever.

Attending Pride for the first time was a significant moment for him. Espiritu says that while Pride celebrations were present in the Philippines, they were primarily limited to smaller communities. Now, he observes, Pride is becoming more visible to those outside the LGBTQIA+ community in his home country.

Participating in the Pride celebrations was a unique moment for Espiritu, as he felt embraced and celebrated for who he is without a fear of judgement.

This sense of inclusivity was one of the driving factors behind his decision to pick Canada as his destination. Along with the resources available to support the community.

“Just seeing all the smiles and the happiness in people’s faces, you feel very welcome. To me, pride means being proud of who you are and not letting the opinion of others shape who you are,” Espiritu said.

After a series of challenging and exciting moments, Espiritu believes that these life experiences have equipped him with the necessary preparation for the career he envisions. He expresses a strong sense of optimism about his future in Canada.

Espiritu is confident that his career path is within his reach, as these experiences have helped him to build confidence and trust in his abilities.

Khaezel Espiritu at the Humber College Lakeshore campus.
Photo credits: Khaezel Espiritu.

If you’re encountering challenges as an international student, don’t hesitate to contact the Humber International Centre for support. They’re dedicated to assisting you with this life transition to a new country.

Every summer, IGNITE awards scholarships to five students from Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. IGNITE acknowledges the unique obstacles these individuals face and aims to better support and alleviate some of the financial burdens they may encounter.

Keep an eye on the IGNITE Your Pride scholarship website for further information.

Feature image courtesy of Khaezel Espiritu.

Are you looking for a job on campus? Check out what IGNITE Managers love to see in interviews!

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