BY JASON THOMPSON
A decade ago, Laurentian University attracted about 30 international students to its hallowed halls in pursuit of higher education. Today, LU is teeming
with international flavour as close to 400 students have made Greater Sudbury home while studying abroad.
Lori Dagg, co-ordinator of housing and admissions for Laurentian International, said a big reason for the growth has been the homestay program. Students can take in the full Canadian experience, rather than living in a small residence room.
In the homestay program, international students are welcomed into a family home and given a furnished room and meals. Homestay families are paid $550 per month.
Many international students prefer the homestay experience as opposed to living in an on-campus residence. One such student is Opasana Gupta, a second-year computer sciences student from New Delhi, India. The homestay program has allowed her to better adjust to a new culture.
?My parents felt more comfortable sending me. They said I wouldn?t feel homesick if I lived in homestay,? Gupta, 20, said.
Minimizing homesickness is nothing new for Dan Korte, who has welcomed six international students into his home in the past three years.
Korte, who had rooms to spare in his house, has seen five Chinese students come and go. He currently has one student from Bermuda living with him.
Korte said he?ll do what he can to make his guests comfortable.
?They like to be able to have what they?re used to and what they grew up with, particularly with food,? said Korte. ?I tried to cook Chinese meals and while I don?t think they were very authentic, it was enough to make them feel a little more comfortable.?
At the same time, Korte enjoys introducing his guests to a new culture.
?I found they were very interested in Canadian culture. They were interested in finding out about the language, but they were also interested in what we do as North Americans,? said Korte.
Dagg said Laurentian International could use more people like Korte to accommodate students.
?I think offering a room in a typical North American home to a student is a good thing and I have really grown to appreciate and understand Chinese
culture,? Korte said. ?It?s always nice to meet new people and welcome them into our society.?
He said some of his guests have really taken to Canadian life and have moved out on their own in Sudbury. The Chinese students have also had an effect on Korte who said he can now make a mean stir fry.
Gupta enjoys having her meals prepared for her and said when she returns to LU for her third year of school, she plans on staying in homestay rather than living alone somewhere.
?You?re living with someone and they?re there to take care of you in case there is any emergency or you need someone to talk it out with. You learn things when you live with someone, you learn things about Canadian life.?
For Gupta, the one thing that stands out about life in Canada is the snow.
?It looks good from the window,? she laughs. ?I?d never seen snow before coming to Canada, it looks good but I don?t like walking in it.?
Gupta and other international students will honour their homestay families today with an appreciation gathering at The Nickel Chef Cafe, 595 Kathleen St. from 3 to 6 pm.
Anyone looking for more information on the homestay program can attend the appreciation event or phone 675-1151, ext. 1551.