Life in Canada may look a little bit different than at home. There are some things you can do to get ready before you travel.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could affect your study plans. Find out if you can enter Canada.
Here are some important things to do before you arrive in Canada:
- Get in touch with your institution to make sure you have met all the requirements for admission.
- Contact the appropriate testing centre to arrange any skill or language testing required by your school. (Some programs have mathematics or other testing requirements.)
- Pay your tuition fees before the deadline set by your institution.
- Register for courses using the instructions from your institution.
- Get your immigration and travel documents in order, including any required identification, study or work permits, medical exams, police certificates, family documents and more.
- Find a place to live.
- Make sure you have health insurance.
- Book your travel.
Check out the pre-departure guide for international students for more tips.
Organize your documents
Ensure you have all required documents before arriving in Canada. Check with your institution and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for details.
Important documents may include:
- valid passport and/or travel documents
- other legal identification
- letter of introduction for study permit
- letter of acceptance from your school
- proof of financial resources
- driver’s licence and insurance records
- proof of vaccinations
- reference letters from previous employers
- marriage certificate, if accompanied by spouse
- children’s birth certificates, proof of immunization and school records
- other documents as required
Get to know the Canadian seasons
The Canadian climate can be different than at home, but many newcomers learn to love our changing seasons. The best thing you can do is be prepared. Knowing how to stay comfortable and enjoy life — any time of year — will make your experience better.
Ontario has four seasons: spring, summer, fall (or autumn) and winter.
Spring (March 20 – June 20)
In spring, the weather tends to be rainy and temperatures slowly begin to climb. Trees and flowers blossom, animals come out from hibernation and migratory birds return. Trees are tapped to make Canada’s famous treat, maple syrup. You can even check out a maple syrup festival to celebrate the season.
Summer (June 21 – September 21)
Summer in Ontario is hot and sunny. Many people take vacations to camp at Ontario Parks, go to cottages and spend time at the beach. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor activities and festivals, catch Canada Day fireworks on July 1 and enjoy the sunshine.
Fall or autumn (September 22 – December 20)
Fall in Ontario is known for its vibrant colours, as the leaves turn yellow, red and orange. It’s a great time to go for a hike or visit a farmers’ market during harvest season. You can also explore arts and culture or enjoy food and drink as the days become cooler and rainier.
Winter (December 21 – March 19)
Don’t let the cold and snow fool you — there are lots of fun activities to enjoy in winter. Try skiing, skating and tobogganing, go to a winter carnival, enjoy hot chocolate with friends or stay warm discovering Ontario’s many attractions and museums.
Get ready for the weather
Ontario is a large province. The weather can be very different depending on the region and season. Annual temperatures across the province can range from -25°C in winter to 30°C in summer.
Check the weather forecast for any city or town at weather.gc.ca
Winter temperatures across Ontario are usually below 0°C for most of the season. They can fall as low as -30°C in some areas.
Most areas across Ontario get snow, but the amount can vary throughout the season. Wind, snow and ice can cause dangerous conditions for walking and driving. Before you leave home, always check the weather alerts for your area.
On cold winter days, there is a risk of developing frostnip or frostbite. The condition is caused when skin tissue freezes as a result of exposure to cold and wind. You can avoid it by making sure you have the right winter clothing and footwear, including:
- winter coat or parka (rated for at least -20°C)
- waterproof winter boots (rated for at least -20°C)
- mittens or gloves
- scarf or neck warmer
- warm socks
Ontario summers are generally warm and sunny. Conditions can be hotter and more humid in central, eastern and western Ontario. In some areas, it is common for temperatures to reach 30°C or higher.
On hot summer days, make sure you drink lots of water and stay out of the sun. When looking for housing [link to Find a Place], you may want to find a place with air conditioning.
Learn more about Ontario.
Adapting to Canadian culture
Coming to Canada for the first time as an international student will be an exciting new experience. Your school will have lots of support resources available to help make the transition easier.
When you first arrive, you may feel overwhelmed by all the new people, places and experiences. You may even feel disconnected from your familiar way of life and that can be challenging.
Don’t worry! These feelings are normal at first and are often referred to as culture shock. They may last a few days or weeks. Ontario institutions have lots of experience supporting new students when they first arrive. Make sure you get in touch with your school any time you need support or advice.
You can also visit these websites to find support before and after you arrive in Canada:
- EduCanada – Get helpful information to help you prepare for studying in Canada.
- Settlement.org – Find resources and support to help you settle in Ontario.
- Access Alliance – Access multicultural health and community services for newcomers.
- Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE)
- Government of Canada – Learn about studying in Canada as an international student.
- Government of Ontario – Learn about studying in Ontario as an international student.
Canadian currency and banking
Canada’s currency is the Canadian dollar (CAD). Paper notes are available in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar amounts. Canadian coins include:
- 5 cents (nickel)
- 10 cents (dime)
- 25 cents (quarter)
- CAD 1 (loonie)
- CAD 2 (toonie)
Find out more about banking and credit cards in Canada.