A short, initial guide to Canada for international students

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No longer an overlooked destination for higher education, Canada has seen a progressive increase in the number of international students each year since the early 2000s.

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Students from all over the world come to Canada each year to fulfill their dreams of higher education and finding desirable jobs. With various programs providing flexibility and advancement opportunities, Canada finds has become a booming hub for international students. 

Despite the overall increase in the population of international students living and studying in Canada, it is still unequivocally difficult to navigate one’s way around a foreign country as an international student. Students, their friends, and families have endless responsibilities before and upon reaching Canada. While there are consultants and advisors, many students prefer to find their own route to Canada.

The bigger challenge arises upon entering the country. In addition to the cultural shock, one might find themselves clueless about certain important areas of survival in Canada as an international student. This article aims to ease the discomfort that new international students might be feeling upon arrival. 

Residence options

The most important concern for international students is their living situation. With a hike in international differential fees, many international students are unable to live in university residences. Although university residences are usually the safest options, off-campus accommodations are equally as reliable. One must make sure to examine the apartment or house with close attention to detail and explore options rather than settling for the bare minimum.

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Numerous landlords offer furnished housing as well as parking spots and laundry services. Websites like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji can be a great help when looking for a suitable apartment, with specific requirements. Moreover, many students find their homes through WhatsApp and Facebook groups made specifically for helping new international students find adequate housing, etc.

Obtaining documents

Most international students prefer to work odd jobs or on-campus part-time jobs to support themselves. To secure such jobs one is required to obtain one’s SIN number. Other such documents such as one’s driver’s license and provincial identification are obtained at Service Canada. The Medicare card, which is the publicly funded health insurance of Canada, can also be obtained at Service Canada, although it is subject to provincial laws.

Part-time jobs

International students pay almost 430 per cent more than Canadian students each year, all over Canada. This exorbitant fee is paid by parents using bank loans, property shedding and even keeping valuables as collateral. This can cause parents to be burdened by education loans and lifelong debts.

Therefore, to support themselves and relieve their parents, many international students work part-time jobs on or off campus. Not only does this add to the financial capabilities of students, but is also a window into the working life in Canada, which is a cultural shock to many students.

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“With the responsibility of not only maintaining our academic performances but also supporting ourselves financially for our monthly necessities, there are a few added things that make this a challenge for many international students. Working with a company, retail outlet, commercial spots, universities, etc., comes with the added stipulation of tax cuts,” says Muhammad Faseeh Khalil, international student body representative for UNBSJ undergraduates.

Part-time job profiles such as low-level associates, quick service restaurant workers and call center service workers, etc. are mostly filled by international students. Indeed and LinkedIn are social media platforms that provide students with opportunities, not only for immediate work but also to develop a healthy professional persona online. Walk-in interviews are not the usual norm, although many young students walk to several retail stores and fast food chains to drop off resumes, in case of job openings. Wal-Mart and most other such corporations have online applications and interview calls. 

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The life of international students is certainly challenging and oftentimes can be lonely and even frightening. One might not learn from reading but surely does through experience. International students have to work hard, not only to earn while studying but to simply be accepted in society. Yet, with time, international students have proven their worth and continue to do so, even with the overburdening challenges.