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Adding to your studies with virtual resources can prepare you for a successful academic experience, and can help you develop important skills to use now and after you graduate.

Given the hectic schedules international students have to keep while studying in Canada, learning new skills online can be a way to help enhance both your new life and future career prospects.

From networking and language skills to mental well-being and financial know-how, online resources can prepare you for your future at school and beyond.

1. Enhance Your Language Skills.

Language may be a challenge for some international students while studying in Canada. Even if you have a working knowledge of English or French, understanding your instructors’ accents and academic terminology may be tricky.

Here are free sites to help you boost your language skills:

  • The Resources of the Language Portal of Canada has multiple tools for improving your English or French, including translators, quizzes and writing resources, all available for free.
  • Duolingo is an app-based program, which you can access for free. Duolingo tends to be most popular among those who want to practice a language instead of learning it from scratch.
  • At Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab, you can work on your English listening skills with words and phrases you’re likely to hear on a daily basis, both in class and in social settings.

2. Expand Your Skill Set.

You may be studying life sciences — but why not take this opportunity to expand your focus with coding or programming courses to round out your skillset? Or if you’re a physics major, consider giving web development a try. There are many organizations that offer free courses to learn today’s much-needed technology skills — skills that may come in handy as the world moves even faster in a digital direction.

  •, Coursera and Codeacademy are some of the top online education providers that offer free programs and courses in nearly any technical area.
  • RBC Future Launch features skill-building tools and programs to help you expand your scope of expertise and interest. The key is to choose skills that you’re genuinely curious about and keen to explore further.

3. Strengthen Your Network.

A strong network can help open doors to new opportunities, offer support, and spark ideas as you connect with like-minded individuals.

While in-person networking isn’t possible right now, there are many online opportunities to start or grow your network. RBC Future Launch offers resources to explore as you look to build your network, and provides suggestions on conferences, seminars or groups to join virtually.

4. Improve Your Financial Literacy.

Many students feel challenged managing money during school. Because of the distance from home and support systems, international students can feel particularly challenged.

It’s always a great time to boost your financial literacy. Learn how to create a budget, manage credit and save for the future with online programs such as McGill Personal Finance Essentials. Online and free for anyone, the course takes you through seven learning modules on a variety of important financial topics. And because the material is based on the Canadian financial system, you may become more comfortable with managing your money while you’re here.

5. Boost Your Digital Literacy.

Chances are, like most students, you’re pretty digitally literate already. But are there areas you can explore further? Have you mastered video calling and online assignment submission? Do you know how to create both in-person and virtual events (say, to facilitate a group project)? Are you familiar with a wide range of platforms so you can choose which one works best for you?

The best way to improve your digital literacy is to explore the online world yourself and practice activities you may need to do for school.

6. Manage Your Mental Well-being.

Many international students experience feelings of loneliness, cultural shock, homesickness — all of these are understandable reactions for a student to have when moving to a new country for college or university. When the challenges with school and not having a familiar support system are added to those feelings, international students may struggle more than others.

Free, confidential resources are available online to help you understand and deal with these feelings.

  • RBC Future Launch and have put together an online hub to help youth take charge of their own mental health — or help others who may be struggling.
  • The University of Toronto also offers an online course through Coursera that focuses specifically on how to manage your mental health during COVID-19.

Adding to your studies with online resources can prepare for a successful academic experience. What’s more, online learning can help you develop important skills to use now and after you graduate.

Learning doesn’t stop during difficult times. Stay engaged, connected and empowered through virtual opportunities at RBC Future Launch at Home.