Former student Edmund Mok is back in Malaysia after his first year in Engineering at the University of Toronto. He and I went for lunch today so I could pick his brain about what the year was like for him. Here are his insights into that year, which I post here for my students who will shortly be headed to Canada for their first year.

Canada is a great country (I could have told him that!) and Toronto is a great city for university. There is a lot of variety in a very short distance. Spadina Road is fantastic; you can get almost any kind of food in the world there. The libraries are amazing; they are everywhere and there is a huge number of books available. Even the architecture is worth looking at. He loved the parks and intends to get a bicycle on his return for second year so he can see more of the city.

The climate is really not a problem. You quickly get used to it. The first snowfall was an incredible experience. The whole landscape is transformed.

Residence is definitely the way to go. There are a lot of problems with setting up on your own: phone, internet, TV, electricity bills, cooking and transportation. All of that is taken care of in residence. He was at New College and had twenty Malaysian friends, mostly from CPU on his floor and the adjacent floor. They would travel together and just hang out.

Having study buddies in your course of study is really important to success at university. The work load is huge and it is almost all assignment based, like it was at CPU. He felt that the Canadian program really helped him to prepare for what he has done this year.

The allowance that his sponsor provided was enough for him to set aside money for his return fare to Malaysia this summer. A lot of students spent it all on things, and couldn’t get home for the summer. It is really worth it to save up for the airfare.

Living in a foreign country has taught him a lot about himself; his strengths and weakness. He has matured a lot over the year and is looking forward to the second year now that he has a better handle of what is takes to live in Canada. It has been a great experience.

The highlight of the year was renting a bus so he and twenty friends could travel to Niagara in the spring and see the Falls. The only regret was that the Maid of the Mist, a boat that goes right up under the Falls, wasn’t running that day. He intends to go back next year.

It was great seeing Edmund again. I enjoyed his company and am encouraged to think that our program has helped students like him to seize the future and make their way in the world. Yes, I do need a salary to pay the rent and support my wife’s ministry, but my student’s success means so much more to me than the money I receive for doing this job. It is one of my great joys in life.