It was Snolab researcher Arthur McDonald's 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics win that first introduced Barshen Sheh to Sudbury and Laurentian University.
The young man, who is from the Gujarat state of India, is now one of 553 international students from 65 countries studying at the university (that's out of 10,000 Laurentian students in total).
Sheh is in his second year of mechanical engineering studies at Laurentian University, and a couple of weeks ago, he got to visit Snolab, an underground science laboratory located in Vale's Creighton Mine.
Beyond academic opportunities such as these, Sheh said he loves the fact the Laurentian and Sudbury are surrounded by nature and lakes.
“What I do for hanging out is I walk out to any street and I enjoy the nature,” Sheh said, adding he plans to try skiing this winter. “That's my refreshment.”
He said he finds studying in a smaller city where there's fewer distractions is actually ideal as he tackles a difficult school workload.
And Canadian students are accepting of their international counterparts, Sheh said. “As compared to the U.S., there's almost zero racism,” he said.
Sheh was one of the students who took part in the launch of International Education Week at Laurentian University Nov. 18.
The launch included speeches from Mayor Brian Bigger and Laurentian president Robert Haché, as well as performances by several international student groups.
Students from different countries will be showcasing their culture at booths set up in the Parker Building all week.
Monday focused on Asia, Tuesday on Africa, Wednesday will highlight Europe and Oceania, Thursday South America and Antarctica and Friday North America.
Haché said Laurentian has 350 new confirmed international students for the winter term. International students, by the way, bring in much-needed funds for universities and colleges, as they pay higher tuition fees.
“That's a strong increase over last year's number, showing that international students at Laurentian are continuing to grow as part of our total population and providing broader integrative cultural experience for our students,” he said.
“That being said, it's difficult to project what this will actually translate for the number of students we receive in January. But it is particularly pleasing to see the growing interest in our institution worldwide.”
Haché also encourages Canadian students attending Laurentian to consider the benefits of studying abroad themselves.
“I actually had an opportunity to study internationally myself, and in my case it was for three years, but it can be for a week or three weeks or as long as three or four years,” he said.
“It is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Bigger said Laurentian has done a “tremendous job” of showcasing itself on the global stage, and attracting international students.
“I'm really happy for the students because I know they'll be receiving a high-quality education,” Bigger said.
“I'm happy for the whole community because international students bring so much vibrancy and excitement to our city.
“I'm seeing our community change through the last few years particularly. The number of restaurants and the number of cultural events and different cultures being showcased in our community has really expanded greatly for the last few years.”