Ready to come to Canada?! I am excited that you now have your student visa and you are good to go!
You can now arrive in Canada if your school is on the list here. Asides from having the ArriveCAN, Visa, all docs, your quarantine plan (or full vaccination), etc., this is a list of things to do as a new international student.
1) Obtain your study permit:
This is inevitable but many new students do not know. What most (if not all) foreign students have from their country is a temporary resident visa. A study permit is issued upon arrival. So, put your documents in your hand luggage to avoid unnecessary delay.
2) Obtain your Social Insurance:
If the condition of your study permit allows you to work in Canada, you need to get your Social Insurance Number (S.I.N). You may be able to get one at the airport upon arrival (ask there). If not, check here for how to apply at Service Canada.
3) Arrange accommodation:
Given the current COVID situation, you may need to do this before arrival and have a place to quarantine (even if it’s a temporary apartment). University residence (or Air BnB in the first few days) may be your best bet if you don’t know anyone in the city. But ensure you have a place to stay.
If your preference is to live at an off-campus residence, avoid a basement apartment if you can. Although they are cheaper, basement apartments are also extra cold, and as we say, Winter no be joke. Also, consider finding other students to share a house with.
4) Attend your orientation events:
This is very important! Here you get to know more about your university, program, things to do or not do, and network with people. If you need someone to share a house with, you may also find one at the orientation. And with the COVID-19 situation, orientations are mostly online now.
5) Submit copies of your study permit/docs:
I’m not sure if this is a standard procedure in all universities, but some universities require you to submit your documents upon arrival. Find out if this applies to you and do as required. The Universities may need this to provide updates about your student status to the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
6) Get your student ID Card:
With your student ID comes a lot of other benefits. Some of these are free bus pass, access to libraries, access to recreational facilities, or university events. Some university buildings may even be accessible with your ID alone, so get yours ASAP.
7) Register for classes:
One of the perks of attending orientation is that you get to know the classes to register for. Some classes have limited spaces that are filled quickly, make sure you register ASAP. Also, contact the program coordinator or international office for guidance.
8) Update your address:
Once you have a Canadian address, don’t forget to update your address and other information on your university/student account. Your old address and contact information when you applied for admission will remain on your student account until you change it.
9) Sort out your health insurance or health card:
International students mostly have health/dental insurance provided by their student union and representatives. You can confirm this from your international student office. Some Provinces would also require you to have a health card to see a Physician, find out if this applies to you and get one as soon as possible.
10) Bank Account:
Popular Canadian Banks are RBC, Scotia, BMO, CIBC and TD. On this, I will advise you to find which one offers the best incentive to you as a student. You may need a session with a financial advisor to understand your options, so book that ASAP. Also, if you are coming to Canada with foreign currencies, or US Dollars, change your foreign currency at the bank not at the airport. You will get better exchange rates at the bank.
11) Get a Phone (Number):
There are many phone service providers in Canada. Find out the one offering you the best incentive as a student. If you already have a good phone, you may consider getting a prepaid number or sign a phone contract without the extra cost of a new phone.
12) Get a Driver’s Licence:
Driving is an essential activity in Canada. If you want to buy a car/drive in Canada, you should find out the licensing procedure and get on it as soon as possible. What you need to get a licence is different in each province. And getting a licence is important because some jobs would require you to have a Canadian Driver’s licence.
13) Get a Provincial ID Card:
Many places in Canada would require you to provide two pieces of Government-issued photo ID to access certain resources. As an international student, the Provincial ID comes in handy for this purpose. Find out how to get one in your city/province, and get it ASAP!
14) Prepare for Winter:
Depending on when you arrive in Canada, the weather may be extremely cold or not. If you are in the Prairies (Saskatchewan and Manitoba Provinces) where Winter can be extreme, get the necessary clothing. Make sure you buy your winter jacket, hand gloves, boots, etc as soon as you can. If you are on a tight budget, go to thrift stores like Value Village.
15) Adhere to health protocols, put in the work, have fun:
Don’t break rules out here, that could have far-reaching consequences. Also, all work & no play… Put in the work & enjoy reasonably. One key to success as a student is work-life balance.
I wish you the best in Canada!
NB: The posts and information on this website are not legal advice.
© Olu of Canada