Jul 17, 2024

Clarisse Marie Gemotra Sanchez completed her master’s degree in Canada.
Clarisse Marie Gemotra Sanchez completed her master’s degree in Canada.

October 1, 2023 - Allow me to take you on a personal trip into the secret life of an overseas student—an experience full of highs and lows, mental health difficulties, and steadfast confidence in God. 

In quest of a brighter future, I sought further education in Vancouver, Canada, and discovered the transformational power of resilience, self-care, and unwavering confidence in a greater purpose.

The lively cosmopolitan environment of Vancouver embraced me upon my arrival, infusing my senses with the richness of many languages, rituals, and traditions. The highs were exciting as I made friends with students from all over the world, creating a tapestry of relationships that crossed boundaries and cultures. These friendships were my lifeline, guiding me through the inevitable lows that arose along the way.

However, the difficulties of adjusting to a new environment put my mental health to the test. The scholastic strain, the desire for home, and the responsibility of navigating a new environment all weighed hard on my soul. Loneliness crept in, threatening to drown out my dreams. But at those vulnerable moments, I turned to my faith in God—a guiding light that murmured

With each challenge, I received consolation and guidance from a higher force via prayer. In the midst of uncertainty, I found the great power of faith—the confidence that a divine design was developing even in the face of catastrophe. Through prayer and meditation, I acquired a deep faith that God would bring strength and guidance, illuminating the route ahead.

Recognizing the significance of mental health, I sought help from the university's counselling services. The ability to freely express my challenges and receive help proved invaluable to me on my path. 

We developed a support network based on empathy, understanding, and encouragement after connecting with other foreign students facing similar issues. We sailed the stormy waters together, giving each other hope and reminding each other that we were not alone in our troubles.

Over time, I realized that my quest was about more than just academic success or moving to a better pasture—it was also about personal growth and character development. Obstacles became chances for me to discover hidden strengths, go beyond my comfort zone, and redefine my sense of purpose.

I started prioritizing self-care by visiting the stunning surroundings surrounding Vancouver and finding consolation in nature's beauty. I cultivated my spiritual growth through faith-based organizations and events, receiving inspiration from a community that promoted love, acceptance, and hope.

With each stride ahead, my trust in God became stronger, driving me toward scholastic achievement and a sense of fulfillment. I realized that the pursuit of knowledge was more than just a means to an end, but also a catalyst for making a positive difference in the world—a mission that spanned countries and cultures.

As an international student in Vancouver, my hidden existence was a voyage of self-discovery, perseverance, and faith. I learned to negotiate the hardships of a strange nation with grace, inspired by the unshakeable sense that there was a higher purpose directing my journey. My difficulties were not deterrents, but rather stepping stones towards personal growth and a better awareness of my own potential.

As I continue on my path, I take the lessons learned with me—the value of self-care, the strength of faith, and the beauty of accepting varied experiences. To all those beginning on their own hidden lives as overseas students, may you find strength in your faith, bravery in your vulnerability, and hope in your search for a greener pasture. 

Remember that inside the depths of your journey is the opportunity for personal development and the fulfillment of your ambitions.


[Editor’s note: Clarisse Marie Gemotra Sanchez was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. She thinks of herself as an extrovert at heart. Her educational background is varied: business management and entrepreneurship diploma from Ireland's Advance Learning Institute Systems Online; a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a management information systems focus from one of the universities in the Philippines; and she recently finished her master's degree in business administration in University Canada West.]

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