Sometimes we just need some advice from people who aren't family or friends. A major change in life like going to school is stressful enough that universities have counselling centres set up to help students deal with different issues---whether mental health-related or just that unbearable feeling of loneliness from being away from home. A number of schools also offer advisors to cater to concerns such as identity or faith issues. And international students make up a considerable percentage of the student population, so most schools have international centres set up to assist students coming to Halifax and information for those preparing to study abroad. A place to start your search is at your university's website, to check out what kind of services they have.
The university's Counselling and Psychological Services Centre (Student Union Building, 6136 University, 4th floor, 494-2081) offers fairly extensive services, from emergency crisis management to career counselling to helping with personal problems such as eating disorders, addiction and abusive relationships. Students can get confidential, group or one-on-one counselling. Dalhousie has partnered up with the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has a deal with King's, so services are available to NSCAD and University of King's College students, too.
The university has a Black Student Advising Centre that provides services to all who are interested in learning more about the African Nova Scotian community, assisting students with their concerns and ensuring that existing policies are fair and equitable. The advisor also helps organize activities allowing students to network with each other on campus and in the community. Contact Barb Hamilton-Hinch at 494-6648. The centre is located on the 4th floor of the SUB.
There is a Multifaith Centre (1321 Edward, 494-2287) on campus for students who are seeking spiritual support and guidance or who may be struggling with spiritual issues. The centre offers retreats, workshops, lectures and social activities, and connects students with others of the same faith in Halifax. There is also a Prayer and Meditation Room available to students, staff and faculty who are looking for a quiet place for reflection.
For students seeking support or information on issues of sexuality or gender, the Allies Program creates a welcoming space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered students, staff and faculty. The program is partnered with the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Project's Ally Card Program and accepts volunteers who want to be "allies." To volunteer, go to dalally.studentservices.dal.ca and click on the "Being an ally" link at the bottom or email email@example.com.
International Student and Exchange Services has information about immigration documents and student health plans, as well as preparing for, arriving, living and studying in Halifax. ISES also organizes an orientation for students at the beginning of September. Room G-25 in Killam Library, 6225 University Avenue, 494-1566.
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University
The university is one of the country's top art schools but with a small student body (roughly 1,000), it is limited in its services compared to larger universities. Bernadette Kehoe, director of Financial Aid and Student Counselling (494-2081), can give referrals to students with financial and counselling concerns. For more professional psychological services, NSCAD students can see the trained professionals at Dalhousie's Counselling Services. Also, NSCAD students receive discount membership rates to Dalplex.**
Nova Scotia Community College
The college offers African Canadian Student Services to those who are a member of the African Canadian community. Find out more about Africentric learning programs by contacting Archy Beals, coordinator of African Canadian Student Success, 491-4943. NSCC also has First Nations Student Services. Contact Dodd GooGoo at 625-4348 for more information. The college has an extensive website for international students including a section on "Life at NSCC" as well a detailed "Life in Nova Scotia" section with relevant links.
Mount Saint Vincent University
MSVU has a similar counselling program to Dalhousie. See msvu.ca/student_affairs/counselling/index.asp for more information and check out the link on the bottom of the page to the University of Chicago's virtual pamphlet collection for additional information and resources. Read about MSVU's International Projects and sign up for the New International Students orientation on the website: msvu.ca/future/international.asp
Saint Mary's University
SMU offers free, short-term career and personal counselling. The centre is located on the 4th floor of the Student Centre, 420-5615. The university has a Black Student Advisor and an Aboriginal Student Advisor, whose roles are to listen to concerns and deal with issues that may arise, as well as ensuring that the university remains fair, culturally relevant and inclusive for all who attend. The Black Student Advisor's services are open to all students and provide resources for those who want to learn more about the African Nova Scotian community. The Black Student and Aboriginal Student Advisors are both located on the 5th floor of the Student Centre, 491-8637.
For the SMU international student, you can find the International Student Handbook on the website. It covers everything from dealing with culture shock to managing finances, types of banking and important holidays in the province. The International Centre has volunteer opportunities, so for those who want to get involved, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 420-5525.
Groups and Societies
A great way to meet people, make friends and find new interests is to join a student group. (Want to learn more about anime?) There are numerous societies ranging from conventional groups such as a dance or rowing club to quirkier ones like a brewing collective or film club. If you're looking for a particular group that doesn't exist, you can easily start your own by filling out some forms with a list of executive officers and interested members. Here are a few existing groups :
Dalhousie Concrete Canoe Team, Dalhousie Advertising & Media Awareness Society (serves to increase critical awareness of the advertising and media that surrounds us daily), Dalhousie Swing Dance Society
King's College: ksu.ca/index.php
King's Bike Co-op, King's Film Collective, King's Gadfly Initiative (provides public recognition of the debates that go on all over campus)
MSVU Anime Society, MSVU Equestrian Society, Peace and Conflict Society
The Feminist Collective, The Yoga Club, NSCAD Queer Collective
SMU Drama Society (the society performed Little Women last year), SMU Partnership for Animal Welfare Society, Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs
1. It’s scary being in a new city and going to a new school. Check out these options if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
2. Let the professionals offer some support. They have years of training, and if they’re not helping, you can always find another.