Idea

From Colombia to OCAD U

Juan Sebastian Vivas

Water droplet sculpture

Spaceship Sculpture

Tree Sculpture

Moving to a new country for university is a big change! We chatted with OCAD U student Juan Sebastian Vivas about his experience.

Why did you choose to move to Canada to study at OCAD University?

When I started my senior year of high school I knew that my career path was going to involve industrial design. I had everything planned: I was going to earn my undergraduate degree in Colombia and, if there was a chance, I would go abroad to complete my master’s. I had my university chosen and had even started conversations with the dean and faculty to go through an express application process to ensure my acceptance.

At the same time, all my high school friends were planning to apply to Canadian universities. One of my friends wanted us all to go to Canada and spend our university years together. Because I was tired of him insisting, I applied, just to see if I would be able to get in in to a foreign university. I didn’t have high expectations. 

Toronto was the first city that came to mind. By googling “industrial design schools Toronto,” I came across OCAD University’s Industrial Design program. Its approach to humane design, emphasis on experience-based design teaching and faculty members’ expertise caught my eye. Without thinking twice, I convinced a friend to apply with me. We put together an online portfolio with some of our work done in design technology and submitted it.

One morning, I received the unexpected acceptance to OCAD U, and all of what I thought had been decided became uncertain. I finally decided to come to Canada to study at OCAD U, a decision I have never regretted. Even though I was afraid to go far from home by myself, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Wooden Amplifier

What were the biggest challenges in coming to Toronto? What are the best parts?

My biggest challenge was to believe I was able to manage all the changes by myself at such an early age. I moved out of my house, I moved away from my country, I changed my daily language to English, I started university straight from high school, I started living by myself, I didn’t know anybody in this country and did everything by myself — all at only 18 years old.

All my plans completely changed in seconds, and my life expectations had to be re-shaped. I hadn’t even been to Canada before deciding to live here, so moving was like throwing myself into a black hole.

But, what are the best parts? That I did it! That I didn’t let the stress and doubt overcome me, because even though it wasn’t easy — and it is still not easy — I’ve grown so much as a person. I’ve met so many people, I’ve learned so much, and everything wouldn’t have been possible without all the support I had from my loved ones.

Car Hood Ornament

Do you have any advice for students from other countries thinking about coming to OCAD U?

First, think deeply about what you want to become. What are your expectations? Who do you want to help? Who do you want to connect with? Think about why you’re even considering leaving home.

If any of your answers connect to that person you’ve been building throughout your life, remember that the only way to get to know yourself is to get to know the world outside first. We all have different stories and, as small as we are, we are also universal. You might have your reasons to come or not to come, but always live and choose to share what you have in your heart. If you feel Canada is the place that’s calling you, don’t think twice. Every challenge will make you grow.

Tree Coat Hanger

What are you studying at OCAD U?

My program is Industrial Design. I love what I do because it lets me translate my skills and thoughts into my passion for service and people. Industrial designers are, in the final analysis, specialists on and for people. We give value to things and experiences — not to an empty space, but to a person or community who interacts with this value.

My program gives me the opportunity to contemplate what connects us and brings us together, while helping others understand how important this is. I have some examples of my work in my online portfolio.

Where’s the best place in Toronto to get food that tastes like home?

I love the empanadas from Cookie Martinez on Kensington, the ajiaco from Ave Maria Latin Café on Bloor (at Euclid) and the bandeja paisa from Mi Tierra Restaurant.

 

 

 




Juan Sebastian Vivas
Water droplet sculpture
Spaceship Sculpture
Tree Sculpture

Moving to a new country for university is a big change! We chatted with OCAD U student Juan Sebastian Vivas about his experience.

Why did you choose to move to Canada to study at OCAD University?

When I started my senior year of high school I knew that my career path was going to involve industrial design. I had everything planned: I was going to earn my undergraduate degree in Colombia and, if there was a chance, I would go abroad to complete my master’s. I had my university chosen and had even started conversations with the dean and faculty to go through an express application process to ensure my acceptance.

At the same time, all my high school friends were planning to apply to Canadian universities. One of my friends wanted us all to go to Canada and spend our university years together. Because I was tired of him insisting, I applied, just to see if I would be able to get in in to a foreign university. I didn’t have high expectations. 

Toronto was the first city that came to mind. By googling “industrial design schools Toronto,” I came across OCAD University’s Industrial Design program. Its approach to humane design, emphasis on experience-based design teaching and faculty members’ expertise caught my eye. Without thinking twice, I convinced a friend to apply with me. We put together an online portfolio with some of our work done in design technology and submitted it.

One morning, I received the unexpected acceptance to OCAD U, and all of what I thought had been decided became uncertain. I finally decided to come to Canada to study at OCAD U, a decision I have never regretted. Even though I was afraid to go far from home by myself, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Wooden Amplifier

What were the biggest challenges in coming to Toronto? What are the best parts?

My biggest challenge was to believe I was able to manage all the changes by myself at such an early age. I moved out of my house, I moved away from my country, I changed my daily language to English, I started university straight from high school, I started living by myself, I didn’t know anybody in this country and did everything by myself — all at only 18 years old.

All my plans completely changed in seconds, and my life expectations had to be re-shaped. I hadn’t even been to Canada before deciding to live here, so moving was like throwing myself into a black hole.

But, what are the best parts? That I did it! That I didn’t let the stress and doubt overcome me, because even though it wasn’t easy — and it is still not easy — I’ve grown so much as a person. I’ve met so many people, I’ve learned so much, and everything wouldn’t have been possible without all the support I had from my loved ones.

Car Hood Ornament

Do you have any advice for students from other countries thinking about coming to OCAD U?

First, think deeply about what you want to become. What are your expectations? Who do you want to help? Who do you want to connect with? Think about why you’re even considering leaving home.

If any of your answers connect to that person you’ve been building throughout your life, remember that the only way to get to know yourself is to get to know the world outside first. We all have different stories and, as small as we are, we are also universal. You might have your reasons to come or not to come, but always live and choose to share what you have in your heart. If you feel Canada is the place that’s calling you, don’t think twice. Every challenge will make you grow.

Tree Coat Hanger

What are you studying at OCAD U?

My program is Industrial Design. I love what I do because it lets me translate my skills and thoughts into my passion for service and people. Industrial designers are, in the final analysis, specialists on and for people. We give value to things and experiences — not to an empty space, but to a person or community who interacts with this value.

My program gives me the opportunity to contemplate what connects us and brings us together, while helping others understand how important this is. I have some examples of my work in my online portfolio.

Where’s the best place in Toronto to get food that tastes like home?

I love the empanadas from Cookie Martinez on Kensington, the ajiaco from Ave Maria Latin Café on Bloor (at Euclid) and the bandeja paisa from Mi Tierra Restaurant.

 

 

 

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