My name is Nerissa Onggo. I went to Canada for the first time in August 2009 to go to Columbia International College in Hamilton. From there, I went to the University of Guelph (UoG) in Guelph, Ontario (about an hour from Toronto)in September 2010.
I took Food Science as my four-year undergraduate degree. UoG is definitely the university to choose if you are interested in Food Science. It is a very well known university, and most food companies are looking for UoG Food Science graduates to work at their place. I think if in Indonesia, you can take it in UPH, ITB (one of my professors actually visited ITB because it’s really popular for its Food Science). Mungkin kalo Bahasa Indonesia nya, jurusan Teknologi Pangan, kali ya?
Basically, food science is combining chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology, and engineering to push the boundaries of food. For instance, in Research and Development (R&D) area, we are developingCheetos in seaweed flavour. You start by choosing your target market, do a lot of surveys regarding market interests, develop your formula, do sensory analysis through focus groups and voluntary panelists, and so on. However, the food science field is not only limited to R&D. It also includes Quality Assurance, Quality Control, Food Safety and Regulations, and so much more.
Living in Canada is one of the best experiences I have ever had and I am so lucky and grateful to have this chance. Yes, it is cold for eight months of the year. Fall (or you might be more familiar with Autumn) starts around September or October, but the temperature starts dropping by the end of August or so. The leaves start to change colour from green to red, and they start to fall to prepare themselves for winter. The days also start to get shorter too.
Then winter takes over around Christmas time, and the snow might or might not come before December. It can get real cold here, though. In Southern Ontario (where 35% of Canada’s population lives because everywhere else is SO COLD!), it reached -40oC with wind chill (that’s when the wind blows). At this point, you definitely need so many layers of clothing if you don’t want to have frostbite. And the air hurts your face because it’s so cold and dry. There are some days that it snows so much that universities and schools are closed because we simply just can’t get out of the house. The days start to get so muchshorter that the government has to officially change the clock just so we can get an extra hour of sunshine (that is if it decides to show up. Most of the time it’s gloomy in the winter).
Then spring takes over and everything starts blossoming, snow starts to melt, the days start to stretch again and layers of clothing are getting thinner.
Then it goes on to summer where it’s basically like in Indonesia, hot and humid.
Guelph is not a big city, which I like about it. It’s big enough that it has all I need, and it’s not so small that it’s secluded like it has nothing. If you want to live in a big city like Jakarta, go to Toronto. It has EVERYTHING. You name it.
The living expenses depend on each person’s lifestyle and cities. It is, of course, cheaper to live in Guelph rather than Toronto. A room’s rent (kamarkos) worth about $400-$600 per month, depending on location (closer to campus would obviously more expensive since this is a student city) plus utilities, such as gas, hydro (air), internet, phone, which will cost about $100-$200/month. The bill gets higher when it’s winter, as the heater is on all the time. A day-to-day meal (i.e. rice, meat, vegetables, drink) would cost probably $12. There is only one shopping mall in Guelph, but online shopping has taken over the consumers due to its convenience and reliable service. The internet is also so much faster here that you will find no problem browsing for a lot of goods. However, if your shopping preference is to go the store and actually try on the goods, Toronto is only an hour away and it has lots of shopping malls. The good thing about Canada is almost everything can be returned as long as you have the tag on and the receipt.
The most memorable experience when I was studying in university is probably that what I studied is really what I have been looking for, and that it’s not just limited to in-class theory, but you are actually partnered with food companies to work with them. I feel like not a lot of programs and universities have that kind of luxury. Furthermore, I’m glad that I’m able to experience and be immersed in Canadian’s culture, which is different than our Asian culture. I get to meet a lot of people from all around the world due to Canada’s multicultural background. I was also glad that I was able to work part time at school during my full time studying because one thing I know for sure, it’s a little bit hard to do in Indonesia.
I want you to know that studying abroad is awesome and you should take this opportunity because this might not come twice to you. Yes it is scary at first, but soon you will overcome this and you will absolutely love it here (or anywhere else, should you not choose Canada). Universal is definitely a good place to start because they have helped me so much more from the beginning to end. They provide you with all the information you need-what the school is like, what to bring to Canada, how the system works, etc. They helped with the paperwork translation, student’s visa and study permit application, your family’s visa (for them to send you off or to visit you) too. They also have helped to take care of the registration of my TOEFL tests. I can not thank Universal enough for their help that if I have to do it all over again by myself, I will definitely refuse to do so and ask for Universal, especially CiRatna, for her guidance and help.
At last, I have attached some pictures of my school to show you what it looks like. Fun fact, MasterChef Canada filmed one of its episodes at the University of Guelph, and they mentioned the Food Science department due to the invention of Yukon Gold Potatoes by one of my professors, Rickey Yada.
Good luck on your future journey!
Nerissa Onggo, Palembang
Columbia International College, Canada
Food Science, University of Guelph, Canada