Thousands of students from all over the world flock to Canada's universities for Canada's famously high-quality education, fantastic job opportunities, and overall high quality of life both for students and after graduation. Whether you study at a vocational school, college, or one of the many prestigious universities across Canada, two things are certain; you will receive a world-class education and have an incredible experience doing so.
Canada values the education system and prides itself in offering a diverse, inclusive, and supportive learning environment for students worldwide. Classrooms foster innovative thinking, academic excellence, and freedom.
Canadian universities are also hugely welcoming to international students, providing support programs to help international students assimilate into the Canadian education system. But what is student life in Canada like? What can you expect after you arrive at your Canadian university or college?
Below, we explain all you need to know about campus life, working, and studying simultaneously—the international student services Canada offers and what makes learning in Canada such a unique, unforgettable experience.
Campus Life in Canada
While student life experience in Canada can vary wildly depending on your chosen subject and institution, a few aspects, like your work/life balance, can be similar across the board.
Life as an Undergraduate in Canada
You will spend days at vocational institutions or colleges applying practical skills related to your career in real-world environments. In between classes, you may find yourself editing your videos, making your cabinets in woodworking class, or working with patients if dental hygiene is your chosen field of study, for example.
University life is typically a balance between learning and doing. When not attending lectures, you'll find yourself in state-of-the-art labs, researching your next assignment in the library, or attending student workshops and tutorials. Lecturers and professors are usually available to assist students during office hours. You will also have the support of at least one teaching assistant to help guide you through the course program and provide extra learning support.
Life as a Graduate or Post Graduate in Canada
As a graduate student, you'll spend most of your time between lectures and doing original research to complete your research project, thesis, or dissertation. You'll be guided through your study program by renowned lecturers and professors to help you get the results you've set out to achieve.
There are various accommodation options available for international students in Canada. As an undergraduate, you'll have on-campus and off-campus opportunities, from shared dormitories to shared student housing or private student apartment rentals off-campus. On-campus housing is a plus for first-year students as it makes it easier to meet new people, is much more affordable, and offers 24/7 housing support. Private dorms are usually reserved for graduate and postgraduate students.
Off-campus options include furnished and unfurnished house shares and homestays. This is an excellent option if you want an authentic Canadian family experience when budgeting is sure to set aside at least 25 percent of your study budget for accommodation.
Canada's transportation system is both reliable and affordable. An average monthly travel pass will cost you around $90, depending on which city you're studying in. You'll have access to buses, trains, or, if you're lucky, maybe within walking distance of your campus or even choose to cycle to and from class. Many universities offer transportation options and may even have a transit pass in tuition fees.
|Student Travel and Transit Discounts|
|Greyhound Bus||Save up to 45% on fares to and from select universities and a 10% student discount on adult fares.|
|Via Rail||Discounted multi-trip passes for youth and students.|
|Air Canada||Discounted multi-trip pass for students.|
|GO Transit||22.5% off full adult student fares (8% off Presto fares).|
|Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)||Discounted monthly TTC pass for post-secondary students.|
|Desjardins||Students get discounted rates on car insurance.|
|Zipcar||Students enrolled in participating institutions get discounted rates when borrowing a Zipcar.|
Food and Groceries
If you've chosen to live on campus, you can choose from set meal plan options at the dining hall, which is often included in the cost of residence, or opt for self-catering instead. Most institutions cater to specific dietary needs, but confirming this beforehand with your chosen university or college is best. In addition, there are usually a variety of grocers and supermarkets nearby with a vast selection of international food items.
For those who enjoy eating out or hanging out, you'll find various coffee shops and restaurants on and around campus, all tailored to a student's budget. Below are a few examples of some of the discounts students in Canada can get:
|Student Restaurant Discounts|
|Restaurant/ Store||Student Discount|
|Arby's||10% off with your student ID|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||10% off at participating locations with your student ID|
|Bulk Barn||10% off on Wednesdays with your student ID|
|Burger King||10% off with your student ID|
|Metro Grocery Stores||10-15% discount at participating locations on Tuesdays|
|Toby's Pub and Eatery||Cheap drinks specials + 15% off Sundays to Thursdays with a valid student ID|
|Hard Rock Cafe||10% off with your ISIC card|
|Insomnia||20% off all meals except weekend and holiday brunches.|
|Fika Cafe||15% off with your student ID|
|Food Basics||Discounts on Tuesdays with your student ID|
|Fresh||15% off with your student ID|
|Loblaws||Discounts on Tuesdays with your student ID|
|Real Canadian Superstore||Discounts on Tuesdays with your student ID|
|No Frills||" Dollar Days"|
|St. Louis Bar & Grill||20% off or $5 off and a hot menu item with your student ID|
|Superstore||Discounts on Tuesdays with your student ID|
|Valu-mart||Discounts on Tuesdays with your student ID|
Meeting new people in a foreign country can be overwhelming for some. Most universities and colleges in Canada usually have an orientation week to help students get to know the campus and their classmates. There are also various online international student communities and cultural and social get-togethers, which are great ways to meet people and get involved in the community.
Canadian universities offer various sports and cultural activities to cater to your interests. Naturally, the activities available to you differ based on your chosen institution. Still, if your college or university does not offer the training you're interested in, you will likely find a nearby club or society that does cater to that need.
Extracurricular activities are also a fantastic way to meet people with similar interests, so be sure to see your school's options. Canadian universities and colleges often offer activities you may not have access to in your home county. Who knows? You may find something new.
As a student, weekends and vacations in Canada can be fun-packed or easygoing and laid back. Canada has something for you whether you prefer weekends away on outdoor adventures, shopping at local boutiques, visiting art galleries, or visiting the city for a night out. Most local bars and nightclubs have student nights and special events; coffee shops and stores offer student discounts.
Medical Insurance and Healthcare
Canada is renowned for its universal, publicly-funded healthcare. As an international student, you can also be eligible for this fantastic service to ensure you're safe and looked after during your studies.
To get free primary healthcare in Canada as an international student, you must be enrolled in a full-time study program for at least one year or longer. It is, however, essential to note that it can take up to three months to activate, so it's always advised that you take out your healthcare coverage before leaving for Canada. It's also important to note that the government-funded Medi-Care Plan (MCP) does not cover dental work.
Find out more about Canada's healthcare system here.
International Student Services in Canada
As Canada is hugely welcoming to the thousands of competent international students arriving to study, Canadian schools also understand that moving to a whole new country, often for the first time, can be an incredibly tumultuous experience. As a result, most Canadian schools have International Student Services to help new arrivals find their feet in this strange new world. Services differ depending on the schools you apply for, but there are certainly a few highlights and a few systems that most Canadian institutions have in place.
For many international students, the language barrier is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when arriving in Canada. Even if you were successful in your Canadian Language Benchmark test, being brought into a predominantly English- or French-speaking environment is a different task. To help bridge the language gap, many schools offer English or French language classes.
The McMaster Office for the Development of English Language Learners (MODEL) is a fantastic example of a language program.
However, it can also make a huge difference to have a solid understanding of the language of your university before you make the journey to Canada. Therefore, CanadianVisa offers an English tutoring program as part of our student application package.
Another fantastic way to help you acclimate to Canadian culture as an international student is to work with someone who's been through the process before. Most Canadian universities with large international populations will have some student mentorship or buddy program.
These programs generally pair new international students with international students who have been living and studying in Canada for at least a year to support them. At the same time, they find their place in this new environment.
International Student Groups
One of the best ways for international students to find their feet in a foreign country is to ensure they do it with help. Many tertiary institutions in Canada have social clubs or groups that provide international students a platform to meet other internationals in the same situation. These provide an open, multicultural environment for international students to be as inclusive as possible.
Student groups often organize activities, programs, and events to help international students build a social life in this new environment.
Study and Work in Canada as a Student
As a student, having enough money to enjoy the great activities and opportunities Canada has too often may require some outside help. This is why many Canadian students take on part-time or even full-time jobs to supplement their income during their studies.
As of November 2022, those looking to study and work in Canada have fewer restrictions on working hours than previous students. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have announced that students can work up to 40 hours a week, massively affecting the types of jobs students can take on during their studies and how much they can earn to supplement their income. However, according to Sean Fraser, Canada's minister for immigration, this has given international students a more remarkable ability to support themselves while studying.
Students do not need a work permit to take on student jobs. However, if you want to study and work in Canada but not have the work taken away from your studies, there's also a wide range of part-time jobs in Canada that allow you to make the money you need without taking too much time away your studies.
If you need help applying for a job in Canada, here's a full breakdown to help you have the best chance of landing gainful employment during your studies.
Why Study in Canada?
For those asking themselves, "Why study in Canada?" a few primary factors make Canada a fantastic option for furthering your tertiary education.
The Education Quality
Canada is famous for its high-quality education at all levels. According to the World Population Review, Canada is the most educated country in the world, with the second largest percentage of the population who have completed tertiary education in both 55-64 year-olds and 25-34 year-olds. In addition, Canada currently has 31 universities on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2023, with seven universities in the top 150.
The Job Opportunities
One of the significant reasons many students apply to study in Canada is that they want to join Canada's booming labor market after graduation. Canada currently has over 1 million job vacancies nationwide, and with the local population aging steadily, Canada's labor market needs skilled foreign workers to fill the gaps in the labor market.
Getting a qualification in Canada can massively improve your chances of landing a job in Canada as it shows Canadian employers that you can function effectively in a local environment. To make starting your career in Canada as easy as possible, the Government of Canada allows students to get an open work permit via the Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which will enable you to stay in Canada and work for who you want for a specified period.
The Multicultural Environment
Canada's famous for its inclusivity and respect towards the diverse array of people within the country. Most Canadian universities proudly present various nationalities within their student body. Canadian culture is famously friendly and welcoming, giving you the best opportunity to mix with people you would never get to anywhere else and be accepted and catered to in a way you can't get in another country.
If you're still asking why you study in Canada, here are ten more reasons why Canada is a fantastic destination for the next step of your life.
How Can I Study in Canada?
To be allowed to study in Canada, you will need a study permit. Below is a summary of the process you need to go through to get a study permit in 2022
To start your journey to a study permit, here is a full breakdown of the eligibility criteria and the application process.
Take the First Step Towards Your Next Study Destination
Now that you understand student life in Canada, it's time to start your journey. It would be best if you spoke to an expert to ensure your journey begins the best way possible. Our team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) can help you put together university applications, evaluate your eligibility for Canada, help you fill out application forms and write letters of motivation, help you put together the necessary documentation for your application, and even help you prepare for a college or university interview.