QES Blog Spotlight - Transition to a new way of life

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Author: Stacey Cayetano
During the month of November, the Education Abroad Office is featuring blog posts that have been written by VIU’s Queen Elizabeth Scholars (QES) who were recipients of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship. This opportunity allows participants to actively engage, both academically and practically, in deeply linked issues relating to coastal resilience. Leadership and community engagement are woven throughout the project and students have unparalleled opportunities to connect with career-enhancing project opportunities. All scholar activities reinforce the importance of reaching the ultimate outcome of a strengthened global community of young leaders from across Canada and partner countries. Applications are now being accepted until Wednesday, November 28 for VIU undergraduate and graduate students looking to pursue an international internship. Apply now!


Stacey Cayetano is a Belizean recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship. In her blog, she shares her experience with Canadian food and how it differs from food in Belize.

Belizean cuisine is a mixture of different cultures’ food habitats such as the Mayans, Creoles, Spanish, and Garifuna just to name a few. Belize offers a variety of foods that one would enjoy and love. The famous rice & beans, chicken, and potato salad with Marie Sharp pepper on top wash down with freshly squeezed lime juice is one delicacy I missed eating on Sundays since my move to Canada. In Belize meat is eaten with every dish, but for the months that I have been living here in Canada, meat is something I had to adapt to not eating for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I’ve learned that food is not the same everywhere whether it is how it is grown or processed. Not finding the cuisine I loved from home and trying new food affected my digestive system and I had to adapt further than was expected within my move to Canada.


It wasn’t easy making the transition from eating meat every day to not eating meat all. I was tired all the time, feeling hungry, sleepy every minute of the day, I had to balance going through this and my school work. My body was not getting the proper nourishment it needed for me to function throughout the day. It wasn’t until my roommate, who is a vegetarian, assisted me on how to diet better for my health. I was surprised at how delicious the food is without eating meat and fulling. The purity your inside feels, the spiritual growth your minds goes on when removing meat from one’s diet.


From my perspectives, food’s origins reveal a lot about a countries’ culture. What it revealed to me about Canada is that it is diverse when it comes to the types of authentic food you can devour from all over the world and still appreciate the authentic taste of a Naan from India, Thai fried rice or a Mexican taco. For me, the transition was difficult; yet, somehow, I managed to embrace this new way of life. From this experience, a simple thing as food allowed me to stop, reflect and appreciate the dishes from my home country. I miss those tacos for breakfast, salbutes for lunch and maybe  eating a nice fry chicken from a local restaurant in the evening. Embarking on this journey is very important in adaption to a new environment. As a QES scholar, my academic experience is something I hold very close to my heart and will always cherish. This provided me with the opportunity to educate myself within the developing field of Geographic Information System (GIS) and will have the ability to help build Belize. Being open to possibilities allows you to embrace the new experiences in a different light. With all the hurdles I jumped over to make to it at this point, my greatest accomplishment is finishing my Master's research which was focused on soil loss within the Belize River Watershed using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). As a Belizean on her last journey in Canada, I take away from this experience that you are never too prepared for a new way of life, always come with an open mind and most importantly remember to smile and be more social with other International students because they might just be going through something similar and need someone to talk and maybe share a few laughs with.

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