Planning a trip to study English in Canada can be exciting and even a little scary. You will be immersed in a new culture, learn a new language, make new friends and have tons of new experiences! Doing a little research before you come will help put your mind at ease and prep you for the very best your trip has to offer.
Here are some tips to help you feel more at home in Canada:
Make the most of your time
Although you’ll probably only be in Canada for a few months to a year, you’ll likely be busy. Here’s how to make the most of your time in your new country:
Use your school’s resources
Your host school should have some useful online resources for international students. They’ll have information about transportation in and around your host city, travel medical insurance for Canada, health and safety, living costs, and Canadian culture. Check out their website for tips and tricks that’ll help you get accustomed to your new life.
Once in Canada, seek advice from the student counsellor, participate in school activities and take extra conversation classes, if they’re offered!
Want some ideas for where to visit in Canada? Read 5 reasons to choose Canada for your next trip.
Make friends from other countries—learn the language faster
As tempting as it will be to hang out with people who speak your language while studying English in Canada, try to make friends from other countries too. On top of those extra conversation classes, this will help you learn English more quickly and contribute to a richer cultural experience. You’ll learn so much from others; plus, you’ll have friends to visit when you travel to other countries too!
Learn about Canadian social customs
While you’ll be learning a new language in Canada, you’ll also be learning to cope in a new culture with different customs. These tips will help your interactions run a little more smoothly.
Names—what to call your teachers and friends
Canadians are from diverse backgrounds and cultures, so there’s never just one way of doing things. However, in general Canadians are casual, but polite people. We usually call one another by first name. But, if you’re interacting with a teacher or someone of authority, it’s best to be more conservative and call them Mr. or Mrs. + last name. Miss is used for an unmarried woman and Ms. (pronounced “Mizz”) for a woman without asking about her marital status (this is a private matter in Canada). Often whoever you’re communicating with will ask you to call them by their first name.
When a Canadian sets a time to meet, whether it’s at their house or outside, they expect you to be on time. If you’re running more than 15 minutes late or can’t keep the date, make sure to call or text and let them know. It’s best not to arrive more than 10 minutes early, if someone has invited you to their place. Your host may be unprepared.
However, if you’re attending a job interview or school meeting, you should arrive 10 minutes early instead. Lateness is not acceptable.
If someone invites you for dinner at their house, it’s always nice to bring a small gift to say “thanks”. A bottle of wine, chocolates, flowers, or something from your home country is appropriate. If it’s a more formal affair, check with your hosts about the dress code. If you’re just going over for a casual visit, there’s no need to bring anything.
Here’s a great resource for visitors to Canada from the Canadian government that’ll help you understand Canadian culture better.
Open a bank account in Canada
If you’ll be in Canada for a while, you may want to open a bank account. Be sure to ask about student accounts that o
ffer lower service fees. You’ll get a bank card (debit card), which you can use to make deposits or withdrawals and pay your bills at ATMs or ABMs.
You’ll usually need two pieces of identification, including one piece with a photo on it; a foreign passport usually does the trick. Some branches also require you to provide a Canadian home address to open a new account. Read more about money and banking for newcomers.
There’s nothing to make you miss home more than getting sick or injured while you’re away! Luckily, Canada has good health care and there’s travel health insurance to protect you.
About travel medical insurance for students visiting Canada
Canada’s health care system is pretty comprehensive; however, health coverage varies based on province. As an international student in Canada, it’s important to get a supplementary travel medical plan for Canada.
Many post-secondary institutions have various medical plans available to international students. Visit your school’s website to see what kind of coverage they recommend for you. If you don’t want to get travel medical through your school, you can get it through your travel agent, or an insurance company in Canada. It should cover you for injuries or accidents that happen on your trip, from a stomachache to a broken bone and more.
Planning to extend your stay past school? Learn about provincial health care coverage for Canadian Immigrants.
Where to get medical care
If you think you need professional care for a minor sickness or injury, like a lingering flu or ear infection, head to a walk-in clinic. You’ll find them scattered throughout the city probably close to your home or school. Keep in mind that you can’t make appointments at walk-in clinics; just show up and you’ll be allowed to see the first available doctor. Note that during busy times, this could take hours.
For serious injuries like a broken arm or leg, severe burn or deep wound, go directly to the Emergency Room at your local hospital, or call 9-1-1 for an ambulance, if you’re unable to get yourself there. By the way, an ambulance ride to the hospital isn’t free in most provinces. But if you have the right travel medical plan, your provider should cover the cost when it comes time to claim it.
Enjoy your time!
Now that you’re equipped with a few key details about life in Canada, enjoy your time! Meet people, have fun and study hard! Want more info about studying in Canada? Check out the Education in Canada website.