Women whose husbands were students at the same time supported themselves with teaching assistantships. The joint income from teaching assistantships was sufficient for living and educational expenses. A few women received graduate scholarships. Those who came as students with government scholarships from their home country faced financial difficulties; such scholarships were not sufficient for living and studying in Canada. Some of the part-time students worked as teachers or secretaries to support themselves.
Women who came with a small amount of personal money and had teaching assistantships or scholarships from the university were able to support themselves before 1980. They had lower expectations and were not materialistic (3). One woman told me that she wanted books rather than consumer goods. Another admitted that she was happy with a radio and never thought of buying a television or a car. However, a woman who came as a student in the 1980s faced financial hardship because of the substantial increase in tuition fees for foreign students. She had to work every day as a lab demonstrator for evening classes to supplement her income.
The women who were sponsored by their relatives faced financial difficulties and financed all their expenses by working and by student loans. As undergraduate students they were not eligible for financial assistance other than student loans. One respondent mentioned that she was still paying back her loan, despite the fact that she finished her degree twelve years ago and has been working since then. The situation improved during doctoral studies because many of the women received assistantships, scholarships, and graduate fellowships.
Although they had all studied English in their home countries, some had difficulty following lectures because of the different accent and rapid delivery of professors. One used a tape recorder in class and then re-played the lectures at home to overcome the problem, thus investing much more time than the other students. Others faced problems in adjusting to the unfamiliar Canadian educational system. Interestingly, students who studied at the French university had no problems in understanding the subject matter, as most books were written in English and they were permitted to write papers and examinations in English.
The South Asian women in my sample were hard working, good students who after overcoming their initial difficulties did well in their course work. Several of them did extremely well. Those who studied in Canada as undergraduates or taught for several years in this country before going to graduate school had no problems with different accents or educational systems.