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Tips to Make the Most of Your Canadian Experience

If you have been accepted into a Canadian post-secondary institution and you have gotten a student’s visa, you should make the most out of your experience so you leave Canada a better, more connected, qualified and experienced person. You should set goals for things to do before arriving in Canada, while in Canada, and after you leave.

Before you Arrive

  • Come up with concrete professional and personal goals you want to accomplish while studying in Canada.
  • Check on available grant and scholarship opportunities to minimize the student loans you have to take.
  • Ensure your paperwork is in order (to prevent expiry before you complete your studies).
  • Get a medical and dental checkup because this will be a requirement when applying for a student’s visa. If you have a medical condition, ensure the medication you have will be sufficient, at least for your trip. Get a letter from your doctor for easier treatment of your condition once you land.
  • Ensure you have an electronic copy of medical/travel insurance policies.
  • Come up with a  budget and ensure you have enough Canadian dollars for your initial expenses such as cab and food costs.
  • Get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) to enjoy travel discounts. This student status card is universally recognized.

When in Canada

  • Ensure you arrive at least a few days before student orientation so you have enough time to familiarize yourself with the community, the school, and accommodation.
  • Immerse yourself in the orientation program to make friends, some that will prove to be life-long friends.
  • Arrive a few days before your student orientation so that you can familiarize yourself with your institution, accommodation, and community.
  • Visit the international students’ office at your school on arrival for assistance with orientation and enrollment procedure and for referrals on accommodation and other essential needs.
  • Familiarize yourself with your course material and with policies related to exams and submission of assessment work.
  • Keeping a diary where you detail your experiences and emotions will help ease homesickness, will help you remember your time in Canada once you go back home, and will help you track your goals.
  • Take every opportunity you get to network and to form social bonds.
  • Volunteer and do part-time jobs for a better resume and for valuable experience. You may just get a job that will guarantee permanent resident status.
  • Participate in extra-curriculum activities like sports, fraternities, and clubs for a truly Canadian experience.
  • Have an open mind – your experience in Canada might not be what you are used to at home or what you expected. Try new things such as foods and customs and always remind yourself that different does not always mean bad.

When you go Back Home

  • Do credit transfer if necessary to take advantage of opportunities at your home country – do not assume that your Canadian qualifications will be accepted automatically.
  • Use your international experience in your everyday social and academic life.
  • Keep in touch with your Canadian contacts and friends.
  • Apply for a post-graduation work program or for permanent residence if you want to go back to Canada.
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