Munavvar Shakhzodova just arrived in Halifax from her home country of Uzbekistan a couple of weeks ago, but the first-year Dal student says she's already starting to feel at home.
There are the similarities between Halifax's low-lying skyline and that of Tashkent, the central Asian capital city where she lived for the first 18 years of her life. And then there's the open-mindedness of the people here, something she says reminds her of the international high school she attended back home.
But perhaps most of all, it's that her older brother, Aziz, lives just a few blocks away from her on Dal's Sexton Campus. A second-year student studying biology and chemistry, he has been helping his sister adjust to life abroad and meet new people.
“My brother introduced me to his friends and one of the girls lives in an apartment, so I was planning on going to her house and cooking a traditional meal for them," says Munavvar, who has a room in Risley Hall this year.
Having a sibling so close by has had other benefits as well. Aziz has helped her with practical matters such as setting up a bank account and made sure to advise her to invest in some warm clothes ahead of winter.
"He's showing me the ways," she says.
Starting a new chapter
Although she enjoys having a sibling around to help guide her, Munavvar says she's also looking forward to carving her own path at Dal. Her current plan is to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree with a Psychology major, while taking Theatre courses on the side.
An avid fan of horror movies and detective shows such as Sherlock, she says she'd eventually like to do a masters in criminal justice studies before getting into either law or police work.
"I decided to take psychology first to learn human behaviour and understand human thinking overall," she says. "I think that will prepare me better for criminiology."
Meanwhile, the Theatre courses will give Munavvar an outlet for her other passions: acting and performance. Heavily involved in theatre in high school, she says she keen to see how Dal's program compares.
She says she'll also be looking to get involved in volunteer activities over the next few years. In high school, she served as president of a volunteer committee that raised money for people with disabilities.
"It makes me feel good that I can do something for someone else," she says. "When you help someone, you also learn something."
As excited as Munavvar is to be starting her new journey at Dal, her brother Aziz is no doubt just as thrilled.
"For a year, he couldn't talk with anyone else in Uzbek except for us when he was calling," she says, referring to his conversations with her family, which also includes a 4-year old sister and 11-year old brother. "Now he can."
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