Meet Alyson B!

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2022

Person holding small globe in their hand


Mastering Winter: Alyson Bervas's story

Imagine living somewhere where temperatures never drop below 10 degrees Celsius... No shivering in the cold, no bulky clothes. Paradise, no? At least for some of us! While Canada is known for its extremes in temperature, Alyson Bervas, for her part, comes from a country where there is no winter.

Born on a Pacific island, Alyson was used to indulging in a thousand activities every season, mixing fishing expeditions, hiking and beach, and usually ending her day with a good swim with her classmates.

So what made her pursue her postsecondary studies at the other end of the world? Why leave paradise for the University of Ottawa? Well, it seems that living in the same place for a while (even paradise!) can get boring. Alyson felt that the time had come for her to get out of her comfort zone and explore new horizons. Indeed, travelling in a new, totally different region seemed just right to her. As well, enrolling in criminology at uOttawa would allow her to improve her English while achieving her academic goals.

Alyson finds that the University’s support helps international students like her feel more “at home.” But that still doesn’t mean it’s always easy to adapt to a new culture. Alyson mentions all the phases she had to go through to feel at home in Canada: getting to know the food, language and educational system, getting used to living far from her family and more. “I had nothing for the winter, and I had to learn to walk in the snow, to dress properly and not be cold. What seems natural for Canadians wasn’t for me. I had to learn to live in Canada. It was very complicated at first, but with help and some time, I was able to learn and manage to adapt — even if winter is still complicated,” she says.

While she became acclimatized in the end, Alyson still gets surprised by the squirrels and raccoons strolling around so casually in the middle of the city. She now hopes that her story will inspire others to venture onto new roads: “The best advice I could offer new students is to go for it. Yes, it’s scary and it can be intimidating — the University is very large and I would get lost all the time — but there’s always support all around. I also think that you shouldn’t isolate yourself and that it’s hard to be far from your family and friends, but you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help, because it’s not a sign of weakness or shame.”

Travelling is boldly choosing the path of the unknown but also that of learning. Out of our comfort zone, we leave ourselves open to mistakes, but we learn lessons others can benefit from, thanks to our powerful example.

Back to top