Grants and Funding

How To Best Start And Manage Life In Canada As An International Student 

By campusLifestyle.org

Host Country

AUSTRALIA

Deadline

VARIES

Target audience

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS

Program Overview

At this time of the year, you probably already got approved for a study place at a Canadian university or maybe are yet to find the right institution and apply for study in Canada. Either way, this article helps you become better prepared for beginning a new life in Canada as an international student. It is important that you know your rights and restrictions so that you stay on the good side of the law while pursuing your career or studies.

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How to get a Canadian study permit

The first thing you’ll need is a study permit allowing you to travel to Canada and stay there for part of or the entire duration of your studies. The study permit is applied for at the Canadian consular office in your home country. 

Requirements for the study permit include proof that a recognised Canadian institution has accepted your application for study in Canada. The consular office could also require a local police clearance, medical insurance, proof of funds in a Canadian bank, among other requirements.  Please check with your local Canadian embassy offices for the exact requirements for your case, as these vary from country to country.  You could also need a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) held with a Canadian financial institution. Banks like Scotiabank sell GICs at favourable terms: in return for your investment you’ll receive monthly pay-outs during the duration of your stay in Canada while studying. 

Another requirement for a study permit is proof of funding. This generally is some evidence that you’ll be able to pay for your university tuition, and it could be some guarantee letter from the person/institution paying your fees, or some scholarship. 

Arriving in Canada and getting started

Assuming you have met all the requirements and now find yourself in Canada, you’ll want to find the easiest and hassle free way of starting out a new life in Canada. Campuslifestyle.org has written extensive articles on the diverse and culturally tolerant nature of life in Canada. You will definitely not feel lost as Canada is home to different people with various cultural backgrounds and preferences.  Let’s summarise the few boxes you’ll need to tick upon arriving in Canada as an international student. 

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How to find accommodation in Canada

Upon arrival, you’ll first need to secure accommodation for yourself.  Most universities in Canada offer their international students some board so if you’re offered one, your first challenge is already solved by the time you touch down at the airport. If your university has no such offer, please check with the college’s student office about where you can get reliable and decent accommodation near your campus. They should be more than ready to help.

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How to open a bank account in Canada

With your accommodation issue solved, the next worry is how you’ll transact and make purchases now that you’re in a new country.  Opening a bank account will also help you receive money from your home country, and other aspects of your stay in a new country.  Banks in Canada open your account easily if you provide your study permit, personal ID and other relevant requisites. Bank account opening should be a single day thing, if all is in place.

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Search for bursaries and scholarships 

As an international student in Canada, you’ll constantly need to search for how you can make your study and cost of living more affordable. You must always check with your university’s student office for any available scholarships. You may also need to check online resources for any upcoming or existing calls for scholarships, and check as well to see if you are eligible for them. This must be an ongoing exercise until you land a scholarship that can significantly reduce your fees burden.

Note also that Campuslifestyle.org publishes a wide selection of scholarship opportunities for a variety of territories including Canada, so you’ll also need to constantly check our scholarships section for relevant opportunities.

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How to access medical cover while in Canada

By law, every international student must have a valid health insurance while in Canada. Most universities make it mandatory for international students to have medical healthcare insurance, so this issue must have been solved already by the time you paid your tuition fees.

However, some provinces in Canada also offer medical insurance for international students in the cases where for some reason the university is not providing. The best way to navigate this issue is to check with the student office at your university for clarification on your healthcare insurance status.

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Can you work in Canada as a student?

You might want a job while in Canada so that you supplement your income or so that you gain valuable work experience, or some other reason. The good thing is that Canadian law allows you to work if you’re an international student, but there are restrictions on the number of hours you may work per week, the places at which you’re allowed to work, or the nature of the job you may take. Generally, the law allows you to work only on campus. This might be a job offered by your university, a student’s organisation or a contractor who has projects going on at your campus, etcetera.  

You are also allowed to run your own business on campus, subject to approval by the university authorities and other stakeholders such as local municipality, where appropriate.  You are also restricted to a maximum of 20 hours a week of off campus work in some cases. For a comprehensive understanding of this issue of work while studying, please check with your student’s office.

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How to manage culture shock and make friends in Canada

There is bound to be a culture shock involved now that you’re thousands of miles away from home and family. Even with all the social media connectivity tools, the shock of emigrating to wholly new environment needs careful management.  Join social groups at your university or in your community that give you satisfaction and enjoyment. Make friends at the college and in the community and get to learn other cultures different from your own.

Again, your university’s student’s office should help with a calendar of social and extramural events that you can participate in so that you get a sense of belonging. With all the social and entertainment facilities in Canada, you really won’t feel like you’re so far away from home. 

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