Living in Canada as an International Student

In this post I’ll be talking about:

– Adjusting to Campus life in Canada

– Finding a place to live: On campus vs off campus

– Keeping up with your immigration papers

Adjusting to Campus Life in Canada

Whether this is your first experience with post-secondary education, or you are coming to Canada to do a graduate degree, Canadian campuses may be a very different experience from what you’re used to in your home country.

Here are some tips that many other international students have found very helpful in adjusting to our culture at university.

  1. Give yourself enough time to accomplish the things you need to do. It’s a common issue with international students especially to try to complete more tasks in a day than they can. A new country and culture can be complicated to navigate. Whether you are dealing with immigration issues, trying to get familiar with your campus, or are doing your schoolwork, try to moderate your workload to a manageable level. Too much stress can lead to burnout and make things more difficult for you down the road.
  2. Canada has a vibrant food culture – with delicious cuisines from Canada and all over the world. While you absolutely should get the most out of your time here and try to experience all kinds of different foods and cultures, you may want to go slowly at first. Depending on where you are from, new unfamiliar diets may upset your stomach.
  3. Homesickness is a real thing – especially if you are away from home for the first time. Stay in contact with your friends and family regularly to help ease this transition. Call, write, email, skype your favourite people as often as you need to!
  4. Ask questions! Canadians are extremely friendly and welcoming people. If there is something you are unsure about, whether it’s directions, customs, recommendations on cool things to do, ask someone. You may even make a new friend!
  5. Get Involved – every campus has a wide variety of clubs, associations, and student services that will help you feel integrated with your new campus and culture. If you are able to attend your new school’s orientation, they will be able to provide you with specific information and resources that will be very valuable to you.
  6. Explore your new city. Many international students feel shy in their new environment and spend much of their time isolated. There are many resources available to you to help you learn about interesting things in your new city, whether you’re into nightclubs, movies, concerts, sports, or just about anything else. Nothing will make you feel more comfortable than getting out and exploring your new city.
  7. Always remember – your campus will have an international student advisor who is more than happy to help you with anything you may need. These resources are put there by the school to make your experience as positive as possible, so don’t hesitate to use them!

Housing: On Campus vs. Off Campus

This is a very common question. Living on campus can be a very good experience for students living away from home for the first time. When you live on campus, you are basically placed into a community of other students who are experiencing the same thing you are. It’s a great way to socialize and make new friends. Every university has resources on their website to help you apply for On Campus housing.

Off Campus housing also has it’s benefits. Depending on whether or not your school is located in the city centre and is generally thought of as more integrated with the city (such as the University of Toronto) other campuses may be more isolated and will have more of a “Campus” feeling.

By living off campus, you may find that you open yourself up to a different range of experiences, more independent living, meeting people who are not a part of your school community, and you can choose to live in a neighbourhood that is more interesting to you. Generally speaking, spending your first year on campus is recommended while you are adapting to your new city.

While ImmiCan does not endorse these websites, if you are interested in off campus housing here are a few options to consider:

  • Your school will have resources on their website that can help pair you with other students who are living off campus.
  • Also, depending on the city you’re moving to, there may be more location specific site that a quick internet search will help you find.

Home stay option is good for someone who wants to experience Canadian culture living as a family member.

Keeping up with your Immigration Papers

Your journey as an international student in Canada will follow a lengthy path that may look something like this:

Study Permit


Co-op Work Permit

Post Graduate Open Work Permit

You may wish to complete your studies and return home, or you may wish to apply for permanent residency and make Canada your new home. But keeping up with your immigration papers is an ongoing effort and the smallest mistake, delay, or oversight could result in you having to pause or terminate your studies here.

As a former international student in Canada, our International Student Program is among my most passionate endeavours here at ImmiCan. We will help you stay on top of all your paperwork and make sure everything is submitted correctly every time.

Call or email us to see how we can help you along your journey.

If you are interested in doing it yourself, I suggest to al teast have it professionally reviewed by an experienced immigration lawyer.I’ve also put together these extremely comprehensive, step-by-step student guides that will help clear away the confusion and frustration involved.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post on how to succeed in your studies here in Canada. I’m Yuri Ahuja – founder at ImmiCan Law Corporation. Having once been a newcomer to Canada and an international student here in British Columbia, I know firsthand what the dreams and struggles of an international student in this country are all about.

Our team and I are so incredibly passionate about immigration law and in helping people just like you to get their start here in Canada. During your studies there are many immigration challenges that may arise, whether you need to extend your permit, change your program of study, deal with a refused study permit, seeking restoration of status, getting a work permit or even apply for permanent residency.

We’re here to make that process easier.

Give us a call or send us an email.