You’ve made it to Canada, so what’s next? There are several things you should take care of when you arrive, from the mundane to the exciting, and it’s best to get started as soon as possible after arriving. Here’s a checklist of the basic tasks you’ll face during your first week as a student in Canada.
First thing’s first: drop your bags and start settling in. Once you arrive at your new residence, you can start making it feel like home. Make the bed, hang your clothes up, and make a quick trip to the grocery store or go for for a short walk around the neighbourhood to scope out the local amenities. Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to say hi to your new roommates if you are sharing accommodation. The sooner you put your own stamp on your living space, the sooner you’ll become comfortable in your new home.
Register at your university or college
If you’ve arrived close to the start of term and enrollment is underway, do this first. This is the process of registering yourself as a student – you’ll be given your student ID card and any other relevant information. Your university or college will send you all the information you need for dates and locations for enrollment. Pro-tip: once you have your student card, you can also start enjoying the benefits of student discounts. Many shops (including big high street retailers), restaurants and cafes offer percentage discounts if you can show an official student card, so don’t be afraid to ask – and you’ll definitely want the discount on public transit passes, offered in many of Canada’s cities.
If you have not yet set up a cell (mobile) phone with a local number, now is the time to get connected. Canada has numerous cell providers, and it’s worth researching your options during your first week as a student in Canada. Fortunately, we have an entire guide on choosing a cell plan in Canada.
Larger providers may have booths on campuses during orientation week to target newcomers, but it’s also worth considering the smaller providers for lower prices. In general, the best deals can be found on contracts of two or three years, and may or may not include a device as well as calling minutes and a data plan.
While campuses generally provide internet access in their residences, if you are living off-campus or need to set up an internet contract, do it as early as possible: it can take some days to book an appointment for your connection installation.
Bear in mind that you may need a credit card or credit check in order to set up a phone contract, which brings us neatly on to . . .
Open a bank account
Opening a bank account is second only to getting a cell phone plan in our list because you may need a Canadian phone number in order to open a bank account. There are several large national branches in Canada, and each may seem comparable. However, several offer perks for students so make sure to look around and compare the deals.
Find out about student life
Canada’s universities and colleges treat orientation week as a chance to have fun, to get to know fellow students, and blow off some steam before the hard work begins. Sometimes known as “Frosh Week”, these days before classes start are usually packed with activities, tours, information sessions, and more, so take advantage of the readily-available opportunities to meet people and explore your new surroundings. Your first week as a student in Canada may be include more social than academic activities — embrace it!
Sort out your timetable
Apologies for the distraction from the orientation week activities, but if you haven’t already got your class schedule established, you should probably get on that. Most universities and colleges have online enrollment and publish class descriptions so you can see which classes are of interest to you.
Each class is worth a certain number of credits, and these add up to the total you need in order to graduate. Remember that in order to graduate with a “Major” (specialist subject) and a “Minor” (secondary specialist subject) you’ll probably need a minimum number of credits to qualify. Your first week as a student in Canada may not seem like the time to be worrying about graduation requirements, but it’s important to know the requirements for your program and keep them in mind when registering for classes, so you can avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.