Many aspects of your new life in Canada can be organized before you leave, so you can arrive at your destination ready to settle in. When you get here, it’s important to arrange certain things as soon as possible in order to transition smoothly into your new life as a student in Canada.
If you are able to, try to find a place to live in your destination city before you leave your home country. Many educational institutions have Facebook groups for housing leads. In Canada, public listings sites Craigslist and Kijiji are popular for housing listings. Most universities and many colleges also have residences specifically reserved for students.
The choice between a student (on-campus) residence and an independent (off-campus) rental is an important one. Some of the options available to international students may include:
- Student residence;
- Shared apartment;
- Individual apartment; or
- A host family.
Student residences offer a chance to socialize with other students, and they are usually conveniently located near campuses. Host families can offer a welcoming start in a new country, in addition to convenient and comfortable accommodation. Off-campus housing can offer more independence and a chance to meet people outside of the school environment.
Depending on the location, student residences are often cheaper than rentals, but this is not always the case. It is essential to do your research and think about the best option for you, before you arrive in Canada.
The first stop for newly-arrived international students should be the student services department of the educational institution. Depending on the institution, there may even be a specific international student services office. Most institutions will have a specific department or office for student services where you can obtain a student ID card, get advice on course requirements, request important documents such as proof of enrollment and transcripts, and much more.
Bank account, cellphone, internet, public transit pass — you’ll want to set these up as soon as you arrive. Educational institutions will usually issue you with a student ID card when you register, and it is a good idea to set up your various basic necessities after you obtain your ID card. Many companies offer better deals to students, but you may need a student ID card to prove that you are eligible for these offers.
Again, it is a good idea to do your research online before you arrive in Canada, so you can take advantage of the best options when you get here. Bank accounts and cellphone and internet contracts are available through different providers with different conditions, and it is important to check out all the offers and competitors. Avoid getting stuck in a contract that’s not right for you, simply because you needed to set up an account quickly.
Most educational institutions communicate with students primarily via email. Important dates, deadlines, and events may all be confirmed through email, so it is important to keep checking your inbox. Many institutions may also have online portals for communicating with students, so keep an eye on this as well. Depending on your institution, there may be deadlines for signing up for courses — these are particularly important, as it may affect your enrollment and the validity of you study permit if you do not register in time for the right courses.
As you get more settled in, you may want to start looking for a job. Most students with a Canadian study permit are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week, on or off campus. This permission may be printed on the study permit as one of the following comments:
- May work 20 hrs per week off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR
- May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria
To work in Canada, you will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number. This can be done in-person at a Service Canada office, or by mail. There is no fee for a Social Insurance Number application.
It is important to consider whether working during studies is right for you. It is important to balance employment and academic work. On the other hand, working in Canada during your studies can be an enriching opportunity beyond the income it provides. Many students make friends and discover new parts of the city through employment off-campus. Moreover, Canadian work experience may benefit you after graduation in an immigration application or a job hunt.
To learn more about your options for studying in Canada, click here. If you are interested in studying in Canada and wish to discuss your options, please get in touch.
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