A version of this article originally appeared on Arrive powered by RBC Ventures Inc.
As an international student stepping into a lecture hall at a Canadian university, your first impulse might be to find other students from your home community. While sticking with what is familiar seems easiest, there are many advantages to stepping out of your comfort zone.
Get to know your campus and neighbourhood
You will likely be spending a lot of time in and around your campus. Walk around your campus and new neighbourhood (if you are living off-campus) to familiarize yourself with the area. Review your campus map or ask around to locate the gym, health services, library, dining hall, class buildings, restaurants, and grocery stores. Don’t hesitate to check if the stores or restaurants you visit offer discounts to students.
Most cities in Canada have an extensive public transportation network. Whether you plan to commute to campus or explore the neighbourhood, the public transit system can be a convenient way of getting around. Learn about the transit system in your city, get a transit pass, and start exploring.
With “virtual” becoming the norm in student life, staying connected to your friends, family, and the university will likely be on your list of essentials.
Phone plans: In Canada, you have the option of choosing between a pay-as-you-go (prepaid) or postpaid phone plan. However, since postpaid plans typically require a credit check, most international students start with prepaid phone services. Some carriers also allow you to purchase a prepaid SIM card online and have it delivered to your address.
Internet and WiFi: International students living on-campus typically have internet access through their school’s Wi-Fi network. If you are living off-campus, you may need to sign up for internet service. The cost of a monthly internet plan in Canada typically ranges between $50 to $80 CAD, depending on the provider and plan.
Do your research on comparative costs, offers, and typical usage limits, before selecting a phone and internet provider.
Start to get comfortable with cultural differences
Canada is culturally diverse but many new students in Canada are surprised by how different life in Canada can be from their home countries. Adapting to Canada’s cultural differences may still take time and effort, but your first week will probably be eye-opening.
Post-secondary schools in Canada are also very diverse. You may find a variety of cultural backgrounds both in your housing situation and in classes or study groups. It can be helpful to keep an open mind, especially if your home culture is more conservative.
Your first week as an international student in Canada may seem overwhelming at first as you get the basics in place. But with some prior research and planning, you will be able to settle into your new schedule, make the most of your student life, and set yourself up for long-term success.
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