This article was written by Christina Kaye, a freelance writer who works in Vancouver, British Columbia.

So you’ve done all your preparation, and you’re sitting in your new home waiting for classes to start. What happens now?

Getting settled

Once you arrive at your new college or university, get in touch with the international students office or counsellor. They will have a wealth of information about the university, tuition payments, legal and immigration issues, and designated people who will help you if you have any problems while you are attending school. Most universities and colleges will have a “welcome week”, which might include workshops, tours, trips around the town and guidance on how to survive your first few weeks in Canada. You may feel overwhelmed -­ don’t be! This is a great way to make friends, and to meet people from all over the world who are in the same situation as you.

University of Ottawa's historic Tabaret Hall.

University of Ottawa campus

Starting classes

Frosh Week (the first week of school), also known as Welcome Week, will give you the opportunity to meet more people and join clubs and associations. If there is an international students’ association, join it! They often offer a number of opportunities for international students to settle in to life in Canada, such as conversation clubs, buddy programs and coffee socials.

Mount Allison University students.

Mount Allison University students

The first week of classes may seem daunting, but stick to it! You may find that classes are taught quite differently in Canada in comparison to your home country. For example, it is normal for students to talk without first putting their hand up, and debate and discussion is encouraged. In some classes, participation is compulsory, so you can’t just hide at the back of the room taking notes. This may be quite unnerving if you are used to a more passive system, but after a while it will become more comfortable. Instructors, professors and teaching assistants will be happy to help you if you have any problems in or questions about their classes.

Missing home?

In the first couple of weeks, you may begin to feel homesick. This is normal, and most international students feel this at some time in their university career. There are various ways to combat this, such as:

So good luck, and remember, this experience will change how you live forever. The education system in Canada is well known throughout the world, and a Canadian education will set you in good standing wherever you travel to next. Follow these steps and use the experience wisely -­ and you will always have a little of Canada wherever you go in the world.