Reflecting on her time studying in Montreal, Liang Dong praises her life as a foreign student. "It's great, but a bit different than what I was used to in Shanghai," explains the accounting student, who had to adapt to a different teaching style and hearing French on the metro each morning.
"At first it was a bit hard, but one week later it was good," adds Liang, who quickly made new friends from Spain, Argentina and the Philippines at her home-stay residence.
Liang's experience brings back memories for Cindy Bong, an Investment & Personal Banking Specialist at Scotiabank's 437 St.-Jacques Branch. Before joining the Bank more than 10 years ago, Cindy came from Malaysia with her sister, and the two students were also enchanted by Montreal.
"It was an adventure for us, since everything was new," recalls Cindy, who studied at nearby Concordia University. "It was a bit difficult to adapt to a new language and culture, but the people were so friendly and welcoming."
Today, Cindy shares that same hospitality with international students and other newcomers. She first met Liang when the student came in to activate her bank account, and Cindy offered advice in Mandarin about everything from credit cards to affordable apartments.
"My conversations with newcomers always cover much more than banking," notes Cindy, who tells customers about discounted shopping and local activities, such as the Dragon Boat Festival and the sidewalk sales in Chinatown.
Liang was ready to learn more about life in Montreal, since she had already opened her Canadian bank account before leaving China, through Scotiabank's alliance with the China Everbright Bank. As a result, on arrival in Canada, she could soon begin utilizing the Scotiabank StartRight® Program1 for International Students which includes day-to-day banking, a range of credit card2 options and a number of other customized services and benefits.
"This made it so much easier for me. I have friends who had to open accounts by themselves after they arrived and it can be complex," explains Liang. She has since helped fellow students set up bank accounts, and they remark that Scotiabank compares very well to other Canadian banks that have too many limits on student accounts.
Cindy also takes the time to give international students sound financial advice, such as tips on safe debit card and ABM use, and how to minimize service fees. "Students are always budget conscious, so they like our no-fee options, and our SCENE ScotiaCard® debit card that lets them earn points for free movies."
Smiling at the thought of her own student days in Montreal, Cindy adds that, "I know how they feel, so I tell them about my own experience, to help open the door to their lives in Canada."