There is no denying that Canada has become an increasingly popular destination for higher education. The world-class institutions, in the complete sense, make this country a favourite place for international students. The school systems in Canada are different from each other, depending on the province or territory. Education is available in both English and French. However, if you are an international student, pursuing your first year at a Canadian University is not relatively easy. You have to be prepared well to acquaint yourself with the situation.
Let’s find out some of the key elements that can help you sail through the first year.
Tips for a Successful First Year at a Canadian University
As we know, the first year of studying in a completely different country is challenging for an international student. You have to handle numerous unfamiliar situations and cope up with the new culture and new community. Hence, it would help to have a checklist handy to make the academic journey smooth and promising during your first year at a Canadian university.
1. Hold on to the Acceptance Letter
The first and foremost important thing for a first-year student in Canada is the possession of an acceptance letter. It is a vital document to get the confirmation for your study permit. The acceptance letter also plays a critical role in availing citizenship and Immigration in Canada. One thing to remember is that you need to produce a printed copy of the original acceptance letter when required. So keep a copy of your acceptance letter handy at all times.
2. Keep Medical Records and Prescriptions handy
Another important thing to remember during your first year at a Canadian university is to keep medical records and prescriptions ready. These records are inevitable to get medical insurance. The concerned school will give you the guidelines for the documents you have to keep with you. The main reason behind keeping medical records is to make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. The prescriptions will also be helpful to get some basic medicines. If a particular medication is not available in Canada, you can search for a Canadian equivalent.
3. Get an Insurance and Make an Emergency Contact List
All international students in Canada must have medical insurance. You may feel it is an unnecessary cost. But in case of a medical emergency, health insurance will cover all your expenses. The type of medical insurance depends upon the province you live in. Besides other documents, having an emergency contact list is crucial for a first-year student to keep. It may be the first time you are away from your home country for an extended period. Thus, it is advisable to keep the emergency contact list and share it with your new friends. The list must include the details of your parents and guardians or relatives.
4. Make use of the University Website
Read the university website thoroughly to get information about transportation, local events, clubs and events at the university and any other information you need about the locality. Make sure you scourge through all the sections of the website because no information is trivial. These details will help you a lot during your first year at a Canadian university as you might not know many people there to ask for help.
5. Adapt to the Canadian Education System
In most courses, the lectures can last as long as three hours. This can take some getting-used-to, as you might not be used to such long lectures. Prepare yourself mentally to sit through long lectures without losing focus. Be prompt with your assignments and make sure that you are on track with the subject modules that are taught.
6. Open a Canadian Bank Account
Another important thing you must include in your checklist in the first year at a Canadian university is opening a Canadian Bank Account. Once you have settled in Canada, you must open a student account in a Canadian Bank. This will help you manage your finances, and if you are planning to take up part-time work, your salary can be credited there. For this, you can open a no-fee cheque account. It is not a complex process and easy to do.
7. Be Prepared for the Canadian Winter
As we know, Canada is known for the extreme winter season and chilly cold. The temperatures can go even below -30o C depending on the place you live. So it is advisable to keep your winter coats, jackets, boots, hats and gloves ready to face the winter in Canada.
8. Monitor your Funds
This is another prominent aspect you have to watch closely as it is necessary to prove that you can pay for your living expenses besides the tuition costs. There are different options available for payment, such as bank drafts and money orders. You can do it by yourself or approach an agent to do it.
9. Join Student Groups, Look for Internships and Work Experience
You can join student clubs and societies to interact with other international students. It will give you much valuable exposure in a foreign land. You will feel more confident, and whenever a problem arises, you can seek help from these groups. Besides this, you can be a part of various activities organized by these groups. During your first year at a Canadian university, it can be a daunting task to get any work at first. But you can try for internships as it will help you to fetch good jobs in future. As the internships and part-time jobs will enhance your interpersonal skills, you will get to know how an organization works. This will also teach you how to manage your time, an essential aspect in your professional life.
10. Learn the Canadian Culture
Canada has one of the friendliest people on the face of the earth. So, it is important that you extend the same courtesy to them in return. Don’t forget to use the magic words, please and thank you, as often as possible. Canadians are sticklers for punctuality. Set reminders for meetings and be on time. Enjoy the warmth and bonhomie extended by the locals.
Moving to a foreign country and learning to live all by yourself is exciting and intimidating in equal parts. Although you might feel overwhelmed, the whole process of settling in can be smooth, if you plan well. In Canada, unlike the weather, the people are warm; so that should make you feel less homesick and put you at ease during your stay in the country. Make use of the tips listed in this blog to make your first year at a Canadian university a memorable time.
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