The weather may be a lot cooler here than in their homeland, but a pair of sisters living in Corner Brook say the friendliness of local residents make up for the stark contrast in temperatures.
Diya and Harshi Ramkooleea are from Mauritius, a small island country to the east of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa (see map below).
Diya came to Corner Brook first and has graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from Grenfell Campus – Memorial University. Younger sister Harshi followed in her footsteps and is currently enrolled in the Business Administration program at Grenfell.
“I never intended to study abroad,” noted Diya. “When I decided to go to higher education, I talked to a person who had come here from Mauritius. The (low) price of tuition (in Newfoundland and Labrador) had a big role in my decision.”
Harshi said of her arrival in the province that “It was so beautiful. I used to check the weather every day before I came here in November. I was expecting the weather to be worse but it wasn’t that bad.” She added that the sisters have received plenty of help from neighbours when it comes to snowclearing, an issue they never had to deal with at home.
Diya explained that one of the best aspects of moving to Corner Brook was the people. “Everyone is so nice. People always hold doors open for you. It is not common in our country to have strangers talking to you.” Harshi added “The people here are really nice. We are not used to having random strangers say “Hello, how are you?”
Aside from the weather, the sisters had an adjustment to make in regard to food. Many of the staple items in their diet from Mauritius are not available here. In addition, they had to get used to cooking their own meals every day.
In the meantime, they have had opportunities to visit some of the more scenic areas of the west coast, including Bottle Cove and Cox’s Cove. And, they expect to continue their sightseeing, which they describe as one of their favourite activities.
As for their futures, Diya remarked “In five years, we would like to have jobs in our fields, and be settled and becoming a homeowner.”