Gursaheb Singh would have done some things differently if he could do it again.
Singh, 30, moved from New Delhi to Canada in 2018 to attend Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ont.
He was already a working engineer, but he wanted to start life in Canada. However, for a few years, he got caught up in what he thought his new Canadian life should look like.
Now, through his popular social media channels – some of his Hindi-language YouTube videos have garnered nearly 400,000 views – he advises potential students in India to help them avoid the same mistakes.
Singh, who became a permanent resident of Canada earlier this year, said, “Everyone pretends on social media that they have a big car or a very expensive gadget.” “So when other international students come to Canada, they think, ‘Oh, it’s so easy to afford all these things in Canada.’
“Students who think like this end up in debt within months of coming,” he said.
“When I finished my studies I fell into that trap, but now I have come out of it. I am very happy with it.”
They look at other international students already in Canada and they see pictures of them. Everyone spreads fire on social media. So they think it’s very easy to afford all these things in Canada.– Gursaheb Singh, YouTuber, Former International Student
Singh was recently working for an engineering firm in London, Ont., before taking a job with a company called Molex in Waterloo. Singh and his companions, who joined him in Canada in 2019, plan to move to Waterloo in the near future.
The couple is now saving for a down payment on a house.
“My motto is to make a good career and buy a nice house and make my parents proud,” he said.
Advice on jobs, shopping, housing
Based on Canada’s secondary school enrollment numbers, Singh’s videos have a potentially huge market.
According to Statistics Canada, from 2018/2019 to 2019/2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, international student enrollment increased by 13.7 percent, while Canadian student enrollment declined by 0.9 percent.
During his downtime from his job, Singh makes two to three YouTube and Instagram videos a week, giving advice to potential students on everything from grocery shopping to finding a part-time job and how much to expect to pay for clothing.
“There are a lot of music videos in my country,” he said. “In those music videos, the leads would wear expensive brands, like Armani or Gucci. And students who plan to study in Canada think, ‘Oh, these brands are too easy to buy,'”
In a recent video, Singh walks into a mall in London and demonstrates how much you can actually buy with $100.
While there are benefits to having roommates with other international students, he cautioned that it comes with challenges.
“Everyone gets busy and all the household work comes to a standstill. No one is cleaning the dishes because they have exams. No one is cleaning the house. No one is doing anything.”
And that can lead to conflict, he said.
Singh’s social media offerings have had far-reaching effects, including among his followers.
“I used to watch videos from Gursaheb’s YouTube channel,” said 32-year-old Prince Sen, who moved to Algoma University in April to study in Brampton, Ont. “I’ve been watching since I was in India.”
Sen admitted that housing was difficult to find when he first settled in Brampton. It also took them time to adjust to public transport in Canada.
But he said that through Singh’s videos, he learned to deal with the challenges and got practical insights about what to expect after his arrival.