How a U of M international student got used to Winnipeg

Twenty-two-year-old Jonathan Mutwaza was born in Rwanda and was living in Tanzania when he heard from his brother that Winnipeg’s weather was just like Miami’s. When he arrived in August 2013, little did he know what was about to come in a couple of months later.

“He tricked me,” joked Mutwaza.

Mutwaza moved to Winnipeg in August 2013 to study Computer Science Engineer at University of Manitoba. Supplied photo.

He felt tricked because he was not aware of all the challenges he’d face here. Having a brother living in Winnipeg didn’t make anything easier for him, especially on his first day at the University of Manitoba.

“He said: ‘Take this bus, go to the office and tell them this is your first day,’ and that was it,” he said.

“When I got to class, no one talked to me. No one introduced himself to me.”

Going back home wasn’t easy either. Mutwaza said he felt angry at the beginning, and he wanted to go back to Tanzania.

“I didn’t know how to cook, I didn’t know how to clean, and I had to help my brother with house chores,” he explained.

It took some time until Mutwaza learned to live by himself.

“My brother taught me everything because I didn’t know. But now I know everything, and I’ve moved on.”

Once Mutwaza moved on, he said he felt better and started to make friends. Most of his friends are from Rwanda and Nigeria.

“It’s easier to connect with them. With local students is hard because of the language. We sometimes don’t understand them, and they don’t understand us,” Mutwaza said.

Mutwaza is finishing a Computer Science Engineer program at the University of Manitoba and said many of his classmates are international students.

“We are friends, but we don’t hang out outside of class. We only do projects together,” he said.

“When I got to class, no one talked to me. No one introduced himself to me,” said Mutwaza.

How an U of M international student got used to Winnipeg
Mutwaza hangs out with his friend Victor, from Nigeria, at the library at the University of Manitoba. Supplied Photo.

Mutwaza said it’s important that local students seek to help international students.

“It would’ve been easier to have someone who’d tell me where to go to have fun, what buses I should take. They should try to be friends with us,” he said.

Now that Mutwaza is about to graduate and is used to Winnipeg, he said he wants to stay here forever. He said he’s changed a lot over the last three years he’s been living here. He’s more mature now.

“Africa is just to visit and have fun. Here is the place to live,” he explained.


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