Gabriela Aikawa


What made your ELC program special?

I took classes with amazing and friendly teachers, I practiced my pronunciation with specialized instructors, I had the help of UVic volunteers at the Learning Center. I also took classes to focus on specific skills and extra activities to get to know Victoria and Canadian culture.

If you could travel back in time, what part of your ELC experience would you re-visit? Why?

I would definitely go back to the Café Social on Fridays, where I had the opportunity to meet students from other classes while having some cookies and coffee. Once we had a drum workshop, it was fun.

What is the most memorable thing that happened to you as an ELC student?

When I did my first ELC Program I was 18 years old and it was the first time that I had the chance to get to know and understand other cultures, so the most memorable thing for me was the cultural exchange with people from Victoria and different countries.

Do you have any favorite memories of Canadian Culture?

I am a person who likes food. Maple cookies and poutine are amazing and definitely part of my favourite memories.

How did learning with other students from other cultures change how you see the world?

The opportunity to spend time with students from different countries brought me a global mindset that influenced my behavior and as well as my identity. I learned to be more respectful of differences and to be more empathetic. Also, I started to admire cultures that weren't part of my life back home.

Did studying English with us open any new opportunities for you? What are you doing now?

Studying at ELC allowed me to increase my choice of reading and learning because much of the literature and academic work is in English, and helped me to work and study abroad during my undergraduate degree. I also improved my communication skills, which allowed me to meet incredible people around the world. Today I work for a Brazilian startup company - we develop air quality sensors and English is essential when I need to negotiate with our suppliers from China, Germany, and the United States.

Is there anything else you would like to say about the ELC, UVic, or Victoria?

It has been 11 years since I did my first ELPI Program at ELC, and I still talk about it with such passion and joy because it was an incredible experience for me and I wish everyone could have the same. In Victoria, you will find friendly and welcoming people, all kinds of varied foods, and many beautiful landscapes. I'm sure you will have a lot of fun.

Best advice for new students

Going abroad is a life-changing experience so don't think twice, go and make the most of it. Victoria is a lovely and beautiful city, UVic is an amazing university, and ELC will give you all the support you need.

Oh! And don't forget to order the garlic bread at Pagliacci's, they are delicious, but if you don't like garlic, you should try the Chicken Wings at Flying Otter Grill on Wednesday afternoon, you will love it.


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Gabriela Aikawa