Issues Facing International Students - Culture Shock
Moving to another country for four to eight years to study at a university is a huge undertaking. Not only will you need to secure more funding than domestic students to cover your airfare and fees, you will also have to deal with the phenomenon known as Culture Shock, especially if you've never been out of your home country before.
Although you may think watching episodes of Danger Bay or Corner Gas has taught you all you need to know, there are a million tiny things that TV shows don't tell you. For instance, did you know that there is often a difference in electronic circuit design and power levels between countries, particularly countries on different continents? The best way to minimize your personal culture shock is to do as much research as possible and keep an open mind. The articles in this section can help with the first part, but the second is up to you.
The biggest major stumbling block for international students coming to Canada is language. Canada operates almost entirely on a dual language system encompassing both English and French. While this isn't so much an issue for Americans, Britons, or the French, it can be a huge obstacle to learning for students from countries where the mother tongue is something else. It is also not unusual to see students with French backgrounds from countries like Rwanda, Algeria, or even France employing French document translation services to decipher their coursework at Quebec universities because of differences in dialect.
Temperature differentials can also cause problems for students, especially for those from equatorial countries, where the weather seems to be controlled by a temperature calibrator. Winters in Canada can get very cold and if you're not prepared for it, they can make you miserable and even put your life in danger. While we're not suggesting you train yourself to handle it by living in a meat freezer with vacuum pump systems sucking the air out for several months to approximate a high-altitude, low temperature winter, you should at least be aware of the weather patterns for the area you will be moving to.
One thing to remember when applying to colleges and universities in Canada from abroad is that while some schools have residences, some do not. It the university you're attending doesn't have student housing, you will have to brave the real estate market. It is important to remember that Canadian markets like the Brampton real estate market operate differently from the real estate markets in Durham, England, or Madagascar or even the United States. While you may be able to afford a condo where you currently live, Mississauga condos and condos in other major cities like Edmonton or Vancouver may be much more expensive.
These are just some of the major issues that students from abroad encounter when moving to Canada for school. They are by no means all applicable to you because there are such a wide variety of communities, climates, and demographics in Canada. It is impossible to outline the differences between them and the myriad of countries students could be coming from. For more in-depth coverage see the following series of articles.