Higher Education In Canada

What scholarships are available in Canada for international students?

At Campus Servus we have compiled a list of the scholarships available through the colleges and universities in Canada. You can view that list here. We also recommend that you contact government agencies within your own home country to see whether they offer scholarships for study abroad opportunities. Countries like Saudi Arabia and China offer some scholarships to nationals who chose to study abroad.

Can I work in Canada whilst studying?

Full-time international students can apply for off-campus work permits which allow you to work up to 20 hours a week in businesses in the community. The government does not provide you with a job, you must seek employment yourself but there are plenty of resources which allow you to do so. Here is a link to Citizenship and Immigration Canada which outlines the specifics about this program. Once you have attained your work permit we suggest that you go to the Careers Center on your campus. The advisors who work there can better assist you to find the job that most suits your background and interests.

How long is the academic year? How long are the holidays?

Most Bachelor Degrees in Canada are 4 year programs. Masters Degrees in Canada can range from 1 year to 3 years and Doctoral studies can range from 3 years to 7 years.

In Canada the length of the academic year typically goes from September to April with a four month break between May and August. Some international students take advantage of summer courses during this period although most would choose to go back to their home country to visit with family and friends.

Most Canadian universities offer a “reading week” which typically falls around the middle of February. Another major holiday is the Christmas holiday which is celebrated after the end of exams in December until the 1st week of January after New Year’s celebrations. While most international students travel home during this period, some students take advantage of this holiday as an opportunity to travel around Canada or visit with extended family in other parts of Canada or our nearby neighbour, the United States.

Are there other people on campus from my home country in Canada?

As Canadians we are very proud of our multiculturalism. Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world. As of 2007, 1 in 5 Canadians were foreign-born. While 60% of new immigrants come from Asia, Canada is home to people from all over the world. Canadian campuses mirror this multiculturalism and most students are pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to meet other students from all over the world.

Are there international clubs and associations on campus?

On Canadian campuses there are many opportunities to join clubs and associations. These clubs can be centred around hobbies, culture, language, religion, and other common interests students share. During orientation week there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about these clubs and associations and how you can be a member! We encourage all students to join clubs on campus as its a great way to meet other students who may not be in your residence or your programme.

Can students under the age of 18 study in Canada?

The age of majority in Canada differs by province. In Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, PEI, Quebec and Saskatchewan the age of majority is 18. In British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia the age of majority is 19.  If you fall under this age you must have a guardian or custodian in order to attain a study visa. Custodianship requires that legal arrangements be made to give the custodian in Canada permission to act in place of a parent. At Campus Servus we work with the leading company in Canada who can arrange guardianship for you or your child. Please contact us for further information.

Are residences on campus single sex?

Most universities and colleges in Canada still have one or two residences which are single gender. Some institutions have allocated specific floors within one building as single gender. It is best to contact the Housing & Residence Office of the university or college to attain more information.

Do I need to speak French on campus?

While Canada is officially bilingual not all Canadians speak French. In fact, there are only 7 million mother tongue French speakers in Canada. Outside of Quebec and New Brunswick, French is not spoken much at all. If you are interested in learning French or being educated in French there are opportunities in Canada to do so but speaking French is certainly not a requirement to enjoying your time in Canada.

Are there places of worship on campus?

Typically speaking there are not many universities with places of worship directly on campus unless they have affiliations with certain religious groups. If you are interested in finding a place to worship that is near campus we recommend going to the International Student Office on your campus and asking your international student advisor. They will have a list to offer you.

What is plagiarism?

Every university and college has an Academic Code of Conduct. It is every student’s responsibility to read and understand this code and how it effects ones own work. Plagiarism means “the presentation of the work of another person as one’s own or without proper acknowledgement.”(As cited from Concordia University’s Academic Code of Conduct) If you are ever unsure about plagiarism you are best to ask your professor(s) for assistance. The international student office at your university will likely hold workshops pertaining to plagiarism as well.


Getting to Know Canada

What are the major airports in Canada for International arrivals?

The following airports are the largest in Canada for arrivals from international destinations:

Toronto Pearson International (YYZ)
Vancouver International (YVR)
Montreal Trudeau International (YUL )
Calgary International (YYC)
Edmonton International (YEG)
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International (YOW)
Halifax Stanfield International (YHZ)

What can I expect the food in Canada to be like?

Because Canada is so multicultural, you can find all types of cuisines in cities throughout the country. In fact many Canadian campuses have a wide variety of cuisine for students to eat directly on campus or in residence. If you would like to try Canadian cuisine, a popular dish among students is called “Poutine.”

Understanding Canadians, eh!

Some common Canadian slang, phrases and words include the following:

  • ABM or ATM can be used interchangeably for a bank machine
  • Chesterfield is a word sometimes used to describe a sofa or couch
  • Homo Milk is used to describe whole fat milk or 3.25% fat in milk. It is short for “homogenized”
  • Hydro is used to describe electricity because hydro-electric power generation is very common in Canada
  • Loonie is a $1 CDN coin and Toonie is a $2 CDN coin
  • Toque (pronounced Too-k) is a knitted winter hat
  • Pop is used in Canada to describe a soft-drink beverage.
  • “Eh?” is a common word Canadians put on the end of a sentence to incite a reply, ie) Its a warm day, eh?

Are there any famous Canadians?

There are lots of famous Canadians. Here are some you have probably heard of before: Frank Gehry, Kim Cattrall, Michael J Fox, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Deadmau5, Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado, Margaret Atwood.

What's the weather like?

Canada is a vast country with 6 time zones. As such, the climate varies greatly throughout the country. Summers in Canada are warm and in some areas humid. In the winter, central and eastern Canada receives cold temperatures and snowfall however near the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans the weather is more temperate with less extremes.

What can I buy in Canada and what should I bring with me?

Everything you need for studying in Canada can be purchased when you arrive. We strongly encourage students to travel with less and purchase items when they get here. Things you should bring with you include: personal mementos like photographs, personal hygiene products and articles of clothing. Things you should purchase in Canada include: bedding, a printer, books, small furnishings and computer or laptop. It is best to purchase winter clothing in Canada (its one thing as a country we have experience with).

What electrical items will work in Canada?

Electrical voltage in Canada is 110 Volt.

Wall sockets and plugs for 110 volts are two parallel flat blades. If those sockets are different from the ones used in your country then you will need a socket converter. For this reason we recommend international students by electrical products in Canada.

As an international student, can I travel around Canada for vacation?

Yes, you are free to travel within Canada for holiday once you have your student visa. If you are traveling remember to have government issued photo ID on you. If you are not Canadian it would be wise to have your Passport and Student Visa on you. An university/college student card  is not generally considered appropriate photo ID.

Tax and Tipping Practices

Most goods and services are taxed in Canada. Tax rates vary by province but are as follows:

Alberta = 5%
British Columbia = 12%
Manitoba = 12%
New Brunswick = 13%
Newfoundland = 13%
Nova Scotia = 15%
Ontario = 13%
Prince Edward Island = 15.5%
Quebec = 14.5%
Saskatchewan = 10%

Canada Revenue Services has a comprehensive list of items detailing what is taxable and what is tax exempt.

In addition, tipping is common in Canada. People typically tip 10-15% to persons providing a service (for example: taxis & spa services). People will generally tip (15-20% on the total before taxes) when dining at a restaurant. If there is a tip jar at a cafe or coffee shop you don’t have to tip but it is often perceived as a nice gesture to leave some small change.

Common Values that Canadians Hold

Be on Time: It is generally considered impolite to be late in Canada. If a meeting starts at 3pm, you are always best to arrive 10 minutes early and never 10 minutes late.  If you do happen to run into complications that effect your timeliness it is expected that you contact the person you are meeting to advise them.
Equality: Canadians, in general, believe that everyone should be treated equally regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
Politeness: Most Canadians are very polite and commonly say “please,” “excuse me,” or “thank you.” It is a nice gesture to use these words in conversation. When speaking to those more senior then you in age or authority it is a nice gesture to use salutations like “Mr,” “Ms,” “Sir,” or “Madam.” In academic situations it is expected that you use “Dr,” or “Professor” before your teacher’s surname. If the teacher prefers a more informal environment they may invite you to call them by their first name.


What’s close to campus?

University of Toronto Mississauga

University of Toronto at Mississauga

To the Nearest Apple Store at Square One Shopping Centre = 6.5km
To the Nearest Walmart at 2160 Burnhamthorpe Road = 2.9km
To the Nearest Ikea at 1465 The Queensway = 17km
To the Nearest “Open to Midnight” Pharmacy at South Common Mall = 1.7km
To the Nearest Hospital (Credit Valley Hospital) = 4.5km
To the Nearest Airport (Pearson International) = 26km
To the Nearest Commuter Train Station (Erindale Station: GO Line) = 3.9km

University of Toronto St. George

University Of Toronto (St. George Campus) 

To the Nearest Apple Store at Eaton Centre Shopping Mall = 2km
To the Nearest Walmart = 13km
To the Nearest Ikea Etobicoke = 16km
To the Nearest “Open to Midnight” Pharmacy on Bloor Street = 0.5km
To the Nearest Hospital (Toronto General Hospital) = 1km
To the Nearest International Airport (Pearson International) = 28km
To the Nearest Subway Station (St. George TTC Station) = on campus
To the Nearest Train Station (Union Station: VIA Rail) = 2.7km

York University (Keele Campus)

York University Keele Campus

To the Nearest Apple Store at Yorkdale Mall = 9.3km
To the Nearest Walmart at Vaughan Supercentre = 2.3km
To the Nearest Ikea at 200 Interchange Way = 5.3km
To the Nearest “Open to Midnight” Pharmacy at 3975 Jane Street = 2km
To the Nearest Hospital (Humber River Regional) = 3.5km
To the Nearest Airport (Pearson International) = 18.3km
To the Nearest Subway Station (Downsview TTC Station) = 6km
To the Nearest Train Station (YorkU Station: GO Line) 2km

University of Waterloo

University of Waterloo

To the Nearest Apple Store at Conestoga Mall = 5.9km
To the Nearest Walmart at 1700 West Hill Drive = 2.6km
To the Nearest Ikea in Burlington, Ontario = 75km
To the Nearest 24 hour Pharmacy = 1.16km
To the Nearest Hospital (Grand River Hospital) = 5km
To the Nearest Domestic Airport (Waterloo Airport) = 20km
To the Nearest International Airport (Pearson International) = 96km
To the Nearest Train Station (Kitchener Train Station) = 6.2km

McGill University

McGill University

To the Nearest Apple Store at 1321 Rue Ste-Catherine Ouest = 1.1km
To the Nearest Walmart at 5400 Rue Jean-Talon Ouest = 8.8km
To the Nearest Ikea at 9191 Cavendish Blvd = 13.5km
To the Nearest “Open To Midnight” Jean Coutu Pharmacy = 1.5km
To the Nearest Hospital (Royal Victoria Hospital) = on campus
To the Nearest Airport (Montreal Trudeau International) = 19.9km
To the Nearest Train Station (VIA Rail) = 1.2km

University of British Columbia

University of British Columbia

To the Nearest Apple Store = 11.7km
To the Nearest Walmart = 10.2km
To the Nearest Ikea Richmond = 19.7km
To the Nearest “Open to 10pm” Pharmacy at 5950 University Blvd = on campus
To the Nearest Hospital (UBC Hospital) = on campus
To the Nearest Airport (Vancouver International) = 17km
To the Nearest Sky Train Station = 11km
To the Nearest Train Station (Pacific Central: VIA Rail) = 12.8km

Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University

To the Nearest Apple Store = 17.9km
To the Nearest Walmart = 7.5km
To the Nearest Ikea Coquitlam= 12.3km
To the Nearest “Open to Midnight” Pharmacy (Shoppers Drug Mart) = 3.3km
To the Nearest Hospital (Burnaby Hospital) = 13km
To the Nearest Airport (Vancouver International) = 37.9km
To the Nearest Sky Train Station (Production Way) = 7.8km
To the Nearest Train Station (Pacific Central: VIA Rail) = 16.8km

University of Alberta

University of Alberta

To the Nearest Apple Store at West Edmonton Mall = 10km
To the Nearest Walmart = 8.2km
To the Nearest Ikea = 11.2km
To the Nearest “24 hour” pharmacy (Shoppers Drug Mart) = 1.18km
To the Nearest Hospital (U of A Hospital) = on campus
To the Nearest Airport (Edmonton International) = 29.2km
To the Nearest Train Station (VIA Rail) = 7.9km

Carleton University

Carleton University

To the Nearest Apple Store = 7km
To the Nearest Walmart = 7km
To the Nearest Ikea = 12.8km
To the Nearest “Open to 10pm” Pharmacy (Shoppers Drug Mart) = 1.3km
To the Nearest Hospital (Ottawa Hospital) = 4.3km
To the Nearest Airport (Ottawa International) = 10.8km
To the Nearest O-Train Station = on campus
To the Nearest Train Station (VIA Rail) = 7.2km

Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University

To the Nearest Apple Store (Halifax Mac Store) = 2.9km
To the Nearest Walmart = 9.5km
To the Nearest Ikea = Not located in Nova Scotia
To the Nearest “Open to 10pm” Pharmacy = 1km
To the Nearest Hospital (Queen Elizabeth II Hospital) = 1.5km
To the Nearest Airport (Halifax Stanfield) = 41.9km
To the Nearest Train Station (Halifax Station: VIA Rail) = 2.9km


Lifestyle Questions

How do I get to school once I arrive at the airport?

Most students typically use an airport taxi or limo service to take them from the airport to their campus. In large cities like Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver there are usually express buses that go onto or very near campus. While bus transit might be cheaper than a limo or taxi it is important to note that most bus companies only operate every couple of hours and you might be restricted with the amount of luggage you can take.

How do I open a bank account?

In Canada to open a bank account you must show two pieces of identification such as a student ID card, valid passport or a driver’s license. The bank will also require you to provide your local address in Canada. Some universities and colleges have bank branches located directly on-campus in the student life centre or student services wing.

Can I bring a dorm fridge with me?

Most students find that they like to have their own personal fridge space regardless of whether they have a meal plan. You must check with the place you are going to reside to find out whether they allow dorm fridges or whether they are supplied. Dorm Essentials does sell dorm fridges which can be delivered to you in residence.

How do I call home?

  • For calls to most countries dial the following: 011 + country code + phone number
  • For calls to countries within the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) dial: 1 + area code + 7 digit phone number just like you would place a North American long distance call (note that you will incur international charges) Countries that typically fall in the NANP are the countries located in the Caribbean.
  • Most students in Canada would make international calls using a calling card with their mobile phone or landline.

How do I get the internet in Canada?

Canadian campuses typically have wi-fi for students who have a student ID and pay their student fees. If you are planning to live in residence there is usually high-speed internet access which you can use. Some universities charge for this and others do not. This information should be provided to you in your international student arrivals package.

How do I call emergency services?

Throughout Canada calling 911 from your mobile phone or landline will connect you to Fire, Police, or Ambulance services.

What's the legal age for drinking in Canada?

The legal drinking age in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec is 18. The legal drinking age in all other provinces is 19.

I heard that marijuana is legal in Canada is that right?

In Canada, Marijuana use is only legal for medical purposes as prescribed under a license by a physician. Marijuana is not legal for any other use, including recreational.

How old do I need to be to rent a car?

Most rental car companies require that you are 21 years of age or older to rent a car. Some companies allow you to rent at 19 in certain provinces. It is best to call ahead of time if you require a rental vehicle.

What tips do you have for keeping my personal items safe?

  • Do not leave your books, backpack or laptop unattended anywhere.
  • Keep a record of your credit card and passport number in case you have to report a theft.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash. Use a debit card for expensive purchases.
  • Keep your passport in a safe place at home or in residence, purchase a small personal safe.
  • If approached by someone demanding your money and threatening to hurt you, do not resist.
  • Never give your credit card number, bank account number, or Social Insurance Number to anyone.
  • Save the phone number for campus police in your address book in your phone.

Where can I find out more information about public transit and getting to school?

Most Canadian campuses and student unions have agreements with local public transit companies that give students discounted access to transit. The cost for public transit passes is usually covered through your student fees. Public transit passes can be obtained when you arrive on campus and partake in orientation events.

How can I get the things I want to bring to Canada into the country?

Please refer to our Student Shipping Page for more details.

Do I need insurance (health and personal items) when I am in Canada?

The Government of Canada does not pay for the medical costs of foreign students. Health coverage for foreign students varies among the provinces. Contact the school to which you are applying to receive more information about medical coverage and health insurance. If you would like to apply for supplementary health insurance, Campus Servus has teamed up with one of the largest health insurance companies in Canada. Please contact us if you would like additional information.

Things to know about shopping in Canada

Bargaining is not common practice in Canada. When visiting shopping malls or retailers it is considered rude to bargain or barter with a shopkeeper. The only place where Canadians will engage in this practice is at yard sales or flea markets. It is common however for Canadians to use coupons to save money when buying groceries or clothing. Coupons can be found in the mail or online through retailers websites. In the current economic climate, retailers are having sales throughout the year although historically sale season in Canada has been in January and July.

Can I smoke in Canada?

Yes, you can smoke cigarettes in Canada. The legal age in which you can buy tobacco is 19 in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and PEI. For those provinces not listed the legal age is 18. It is important to note that all university buildings including residences are designated as non-smoking. Other establishments that are non-smoking in most provinces include restaurants, hotels and airport terminals.


After Graduating

How can I get my things home when I have finished school?

Shipping things out of Canada is much easier than shipping things into Canada. Firstly, we recommend selling or donating as many items as possible. Most of your first year textbooks won’t be of much use to you when you graduate. Likewise, you won’t need your winter boots anymore if you are heading back to the tropics. If you are interested in getting a quote on your shipping needs please contact us.

How can I sell the things I no longer need?

At Campus Servus we are developing a platform to allow students to list the items they are looking to sell to other students and people in the community. We will update this link when our platform is accessible to the public. We always advise students to use social media like Facebook, RenRen, Weibo and Twitter to get the word out about any items you need to sell.

Is it possible to stay in Canada after I graduate?

Citizenship and Immigration Canada have a fabulous link that outlines the ways international students can permanently immigrate to Canada upon graduation. We encourage all students who are interested in learning more about Canada’s immigration policies to use this document as a first step.

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