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Student of the Month: Meet Sabrina Ishimwe

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Each month Thrivve will invite a new student to share their story in our Student of the Month section. This is not only with the intention of sharing their stories, which can serve as a guide and inspiration for other students but also to start creating that sense of community within international students.

Welcome to Thrivve’s Student of the Month!

Meet Sabrina: A young student with an amazing background looking to kick start her professional career in Vancouver. With over 5 years of being in this country and having lived in more than 3 countries, Sabrina is the perfect example of the kind of people you can meet here in Vancouver. Beautiful people from all over the world, and so many of them with such an amazing, rich and multicultural background, such as Sabrina’s.

Like many students in Vancouver, Sabrina’s day-to-day probably looks or will look quite similar to yours, as she is a full-time student in a local college, while she also manages to have a fixed part-time job and a side-hustle… which, again, follows the usual reality for international students once they start their life in the city. However, despite having such a busy life, Sabrina manages to find time for herself every single day! This by not only hanging out with her friends or using her free time in doing things she loves, but also by showcasing a little bit of who she is, her roots and personality, by the way she presents and carries herself.

But enough about us talking about Sabrina! Let’s hear (read) what she has to say:

So… tell us about you?

Well, my name is Sabrina Ishimwe, I am a full-time student and a part-time Teller at Scotiabank. I like to describe myself as a creative and artistic person, either by the way I present myself or by what I do. So I describe myself as an art person, and that’s who I am or who I aspire to be.

Why did you choose to come to Canada? And why Vancouver?

I actually would say that… I came here by chance because my brother came here before me and I had the opportunity to choose between Canada and Australia and eventually I chose to come to Canada mainly to be close to family. As for why this city, well, Vancouver gives students a variety of choices in terms of education, through the different types of Universities and they have great programs for students that English isn't their first language which is good for international students.

Where are you studying and how did you choose your school?

I am currently studying at Lasalle College - Formerly known as the Art Institute of Vancouver that is located at Renfrew station. It is an art school with various different programs, from culinary and design all the way to gaming programs.

But, you know, I actually didn't come to Vancouver to study at LaSalle. I actually started studying Psychology at Columbia College and I did a whole year of that program before I decided that I wanted something different, you know?

While doing the program, I realized I didn't want to, uhm… put myself in a box of just sitting there and doing something that I don’t really love, so I was like “Let me just… try to be who I am, and stop being somebody else that I’m not” so I switched to interior design in 2017.

And, as for how I came first to Columbia college well… In Kenya, where I used to live, they do have a program for International Students who want to go abroad, and you just go with them, tell them which country you want to go to and they apply for you… Of course, you have to pay them for this hahaha

So yeah, you just tell them what program or what school you wanna go to and they help you out. I already knew which school I wanted since my brother was already in Vancouver, and well. They help you out with everything, they give you the information about the school, about the city and they do it fast. I was here in Vancouver in… less than two weeks. It was very fast! Basically, I just graduated high school and moved here.

What does it feel like to be an international school in a college with mostly domestic students?

Well, the good thing about Vancouver is that there are a lot of international students so you don't get to feel out of place or lonely in any way. Since you are surrounded by people in the same situation as you it's easier to relate to certain things.

What challenges do you think Inter Students need to face that domestic students don't do?

The most challenging thing is the fact that Vancouver is expensive and getting to understand that and actually learn to work, save money and be able to sustain living in Vancouver (that is if you don't have enough financial support from parents). I would say it's challenging in the first year, as you are learning and adapting to a new place but eventually, it becomes a routine and helps you grow

What's your favorite thing about being a student here? What's your least favorite?

I think what I like most about Vancouver is the whole experience of studying here. Such a multicultural place to live. Plus, what’s so good about being a student in Vancouver, or I don’t know how it is in other places but here is that most students get to work. You can actually come here and work rather than just… study. Because Vancouver is quite expensive, so you need to be able to work, you need to be able to cover your expenses, an income to support your living here and… Not many international students come with a lot of funds when arriving here so they need to be able to work

As for my least favorite thing about this city…is the fact that Vancouver can be quite expensive. I know we already mentioned it a couple of times hahaha but it’s true, and for some reason, people don’t understand how hard it can be living in a city with this kind of expenses until they are here.

Do you have any advice for other students coming to Vancouver?

Work! Find a Job as soon as you arrive, because I took my time when I arrived here, you know? It was comfortable, I was getting to know the place, and suddenly I was in a rush to find a job. So try to get one as soon as you arrive, it helps you build your resume and you get to have experience as well.

If you could have known any one piece of information before coming to Canada as a student, what would it be and why?

Compare rent expenses in different areas, this will help so to be prepared when looking for housing… and also! Most schools provide housing such as dorms or Homestay options, so do your research about housing options before you arrive.

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