First Impressions

PhD candidate Tashfeen Hussain, MSc’12, arrived in Canada in 2011 from his homeland of Bangladesh to pursue his postgraduate studies at Smith School of Business. Here he recalls a few of his first impressions of his new home.

Hockey is to Canada what cricket is to Bangladesh

Tashfeen was initially surprised by the depth of feeling hockey arouses in Canadians. “I could relate, because Bangladesh is mad about cricket,” he says. “I thought it was very cool that Canada was so crazy about hockey, and that this country would have its own national sport.” His first sighting of a street hockey game threw him off, though. “I thought you needed ice,” he laughs. 

Canadians really are nice

During Tashfeen’s BSc and MBA studies at the University of Wisconsin in the early 1990s, he met many Canadian fellow international students. “They were very friendly and welcoming,” he recalls. Years later, when he decided to pursue a PhD, he remembered his Canadian friends and looked into graduate programs here. “I was impressed that Canada recognized the value of highly skilled immigrants, and that I stood a good chance of gaining permanent residency rather
than a more restrictive student visa.” Having returned to Bangladesh to teach at North South University and to work as a consultant to the World Bank, Tashfeen’s credentials helped pave the way. The entire immigration-application process — from submitting forms, completing interviews and a final medical exam, to getting final approval — took nearly three years. 


When Tashfeen arrived in Toronto in 2011 with his wife Afroza and two-year-old daughter Zafirah, he noticed that airport signage was in both English and French. “I knew that Canada had two official languages, of course,” he says. “Seeing the signs, and being greeted in English and French by the immigration officer, I was struck that different cultures clearly are respected here.” The lesson stuck. Today, Zafirah is happily enrolled in her school’s French immersion program.