Canada is renowned for its sub-zero temperatures, its love of poutine (a delicious Quebecois dish), its socialized health-care system, and the general friendliness and politeness of its citizens. Although many Americans would consider Canada not “foreign” enough, Canada boasts unique, modern cities and endless forests that are filled with opportunities for cultural immersion. Canada is a great destination for students who don’t want to travel far but yearn for a different atmosphere.
Toronto: Toronto has quickly become one of North America’s most diverse and business-active cities. Located right on Lake Ontario, Toronto has an internationally recognized university (UofT), its own film festival, an active music scene (home to the Biebster), and the nickname “T-dot.” Although Ottawa is the official capital, Toronto is the epicenter of vibrant culture, making it an exciting area in which to study.
Montreal: Although Montreal is in the province of Quebec, McGill and Concordia University primarily hold English-taught classes. Known for its nightlife, the beautiful Mount Royal, the “Underground City,” and the blend of international cuisine, Montreal is a student’s heaven.
Vancouver: Vancouver is where rugged adventure parkland meets bustling city—very few places can you take a morning class, ski in the afternoon, and sail to Vancouver Island as the sun sets. When students aren’t walking up Grouse Mountain or shaking their tuckus at the street festivals, many of them attend University of British Columbia (UBC).
Canada’s universities are big, mostly public, and high-performing. Small liberal arts schools are relatively few and far between. It’s important that the program you choose caters to your preferences so as to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
1) Language: No, Canadian is not a language. Although Canadians do say “eh” at the end of many sentences, they speak flawless Western English. Only in Quebec is French more prevalent than English.
2) Housing: It’s important that you feel comfortable wherever you live even if Canadians from all walks of life regardless of how welcoming they are. Programs like Eurocentre’s English Language Study Abroad in Canada offer living arrangements ranging from home-stays to hotels to apartments. 504 kilometers (a.k.a. 313 miles) north in Montreal, Texas A&M University Study Abroad in Canada Program offers student hostel living.
3) Academic Life: Given the size of Canada’s schools, they are divided into Faculties (e.g. Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Science) in which students take most of their classes. Although there are a breadth courses, finding time to discuss exams and essay assignments with ones professor takes quite a bit of initiative. For those students skilled in the art of teacher-hunting, adjusting to Canadian academic life will be facile, or easy, as the French say.
Student Visas to Study in Canada
Foreign students attending a Canadian university do not need a study visa if they will be in Canada for 6 months or less. Of course, you may be enticed to stay longer. In that case a study permit is required.
Regardless of your time there, you will definitely need to show:
- A temporary resident visa
- A letter of acceptance from the Canadian university
- A written promise that you will return after the semester is complete (because everyone knows leaving is difficult).
- A medical exam if needed
Health care might be free but university is more expensive for international students than Canadian students as is the case whenever one studies in ones non-native country. Below are some organizations that offer a scholarships to study in Canada:
- The International Honors Program (IHP) through SIT offers an average award amount of $2000 for study in a wide variety of subjects in Canada.
- The Government of Canada and its subdivisions allocate a certain amount of money each year to international students in Canada
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships