Student Success Story: Arabelle

An photograph of Arabelle in nature on the left hand side, with the words bold written on the right hand side.

This International Education Week 2022, we wanted to share a story showcasing the dedication of international students. This is the inspiring student success story of Arabelle: an international student and business professional. 

Note: To protect Arabelle’s privacy, we’ve omitted her last name and other personal details throughout this article.

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Arabelle’s Story

Born in the Philippines, Arabelle’s family moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when she was six. She grew up in a small town in Abu Dhabi with her parents and five siblings. 

Since she was a child, Arabelle has loved learning new things. Her love for learning continued to grow and evolve as time went on. She recalls her older brother graduating from high school and making the decision to study abroad, which sparked Arabelle to make a change of her own.

After graduating from high school in the UAE, she decided to invest in her education and returned to the Philippines to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Business Economics. Upon arriving, she experienced a culture shock due to the hustle and bustle of city life, a stark contrast to the quiet life she lived in her small hometown in the UAE. In spite of this, she knew that she’d eventually get used to her new environment, and kept focused on her main goal: to invest in her education.

An illustration of a red bus with a flag of the Philippines.

Life in the Philippines

Arabelle worked hard while earning her bachelor’s degree in the Philippines. Before she knew it, she had over six years of professional experience working in the financial sector. 

However, she wanted to grow even further. She had to choose whether she wanted to gain further work experience or go back to school. Arabelle remembered her older brother’s journey to Canada, after graduating high school. He went to a Canadian university on his own, and she saw how the opportunity to gain a higher education while studying abroad changed him for the better. 

Feeling inspired by her older brother’s story, she realized her decision was clear.

Need a little push to decide if you’re ready to study abroad? Take our quiz to help make your decision easier!

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Trying to Make the Big Jump

I don’t want to settle in a stagnant life. I always want to improve myself … Education is not the easiest to access, but [it’s] one of the first things that will help you to improve your life.” — Arabelle

Arabelle encountered many twists and turns in her journey to study abroad in Canada. It was amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 that she started applying to Canadian institutions. She chose to pursue a postgraduate certificate or diploma to upgrade her education. 

Arabelle spent months applying to different institutions and was disappointed to receive very delayed responses. Arabelle was waitlisted for two different programs, with no indication of how much longer she’d need to wait. 

After several months of email exchanges and no progress made, she felt stuck in the same place again. Yet, despite the hardships she faced, she knew she had to keep going.

Choosing a country to study abroad in can be challenging! Our blog post breaks down the location, cost of living, and career opportunities in popular study abroad destinations to help you make a choice that’s right for you.  

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How ApplyBoard Helped Arabelle

One day, while Arabelle was looking for different resources to help her study abroad, she came across a Facebook group for students hoping to study in Canada. In the Philippines, many students used Facebook community groups. These were integral to facilitating Arabelle’s study abroad journey.

I had no idea where to start. I was working an average of sixty hours a week back then, and the work-life balance during the pandemic was bad. Finding time to research was difficult. And then I found this Facebook group with all the answers to my doubts.” — Arabelle

Arabelle found a post about how ApplyBoard helped students with their applications, so they could apply to their institutions of choice. Because the platform is free, she decided to try it. This decision changed her life.

Upon registering on ApplyBoard and following the steps, she received her letter of acceptance within a month and a half. Arabelle recalled her previous experiences and appreciated how smooth the ApplyBoard application process was.

I actually cried when I got accepted. They were tears of joy. When you go through so many hardships for months to achieve something and finally get it, it is very fulfilling. I was very excited because I didn’t think I would get it—I was already losing hope at that point. After applying for several months, ApplyBoard was my last try. I thought that if this did not work I’d take a pause for a year and try again later.” — Arabelle

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Where Arabelle Is Now

Moving to a different country was a struggle for Arabelle, even though she had family in Canada. She and her husband had to rebuild their lives again after living in the Philippines for eleven years. While it was new and scary for them, they settled down and soon explored different parts of Canada. 

Arabelle is now one year into her studies at Humber College, well on her way to completing a two-year postgraduate program in Business Insights and Analytics. She plans to pursue a co-op placement this summer and is networking with prospective employers to launch her career after she graduates. 

When asked what advice she would give her younger self, Arabelle responded:

I would tell my younger self to be more confident and to get out of my comfort zone. If it gets overwhelming take a step back and pause but keep going.” — Arabelle

Feeling inspired by Arabelle’s story? Have questions about starting your own study abroad journey? Reach out to our team. We’re here to help!


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