This article was originally featured on the RBC Discover Blog Series.
Canada attracts students from all parts of the globe — China to India to Korea to France — making it a multicultural haven. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) student data, in 2018, there were 572,000 international students enrolled across the country, an increase of 16.25% over 2017.
A popular reason cited by many for choosing Canada as an international study destination is getting a quality education. However, there are some common challenges such as tuition for international students, which, on average is three times more than domestic students.
The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ paper International Education, Labour Market and Future Citizens: Prospects and Challenges for Ontario, outlined a number of challenges that international students face. Here are the top four:
1. Feeling alienated
Adapting to local culture in a new country can be challenging, but the lack of social or family support can add to the feelings of alienation and homesickness among international students.
SOLUTION: To overcome these feelings, students can try joining clubs or group fitness classes, volunteering, supporting local sports teams, attending local events and festivals. As a bonus, these activities can also provide networking opportunities, and help you grow your social community.
2. Dealing with finances
For many foreign students in Canada, this is their first time living away from home. Most students plan their finances early on before arriving in Canada, so often, there’s a mismatch between reality and expectations. With rent, food, and living expenses, living on a reasonable budget can be a struggle, making money management a priority area to focus on.
SOLUTION: It’s best to make a budget by talking to a counselor on campus. Additionally, while setting up a bank account, students can seek advice from their financial institution and also use some of the available online tools for better planning. At Arrive, we’d encourage you to visit our Finance page regularly for the latest articles and resources on financial success.
3. Integrating family
Some students move to Canada with their spouse — in this scenario, the spouse is entitled to a work permit. Unfortunately, the person holding the work permit may remain out of sync socially from the local community until they have landed a job. To stay positive and motivated, it’s important for all family members to be well-integrated into the Canadian society.
SOLUTION: Students can check with their college or university for any integration programs or counselling options for family members.
4. Accessing the labour market
Most international students opt to apply for a permanent residence (PR) in Canada after completing their graduation. However, one of the common challenges observed is lack of clarity on the local labour market and difficulty finding jobs more suited to their field of study.
SOLUTION: To help increase prospects and broaden the search, students may want to investigate getting a co-op placement through their school — this will help build ‘Canadian experience’. Additionally, networking through family connections, ex-colleagues, and other social contacts may help finding a job in the desired field. Tools like LinkedIn your university’s international student groups are also available for international students to start building their network and connect with newcomers across Canada.
|Read the Arrive blogs on networking to learn more:|
Although international students face more challenges than domestic students, it is possible to manage these challenges through advance preparation and by taking advantage of programs already in place. Additionally, volunteering and networking can be good stepping stones to success too!