Rai has been maneuvering through her journey as an international student in Canada for over five years and she's learned a few things. She came to Canada from Indonesia to study the performing arts and has had many interesting, challenging and educational experiences along the way. She has graciously agreed to share her hard-won knowledge with HigherEdPoints and StudyinCanada. Here are five things she thinks international students should know:
1. Do your research
Start your research small. For example, if you know that you want to pursue film, research which schools offer specific film programs. You could also start with which city you want to go to. Google is your friend. List out the pros and cons of each school and city. Include your budget in this process — different cities across Canada have very different costs of living.
When looking for housing, you need to know the area, figure out transit, and look out for things that are too good to be true! Lots of illegal rentals target international students. Many people I know are trapped with predatory landlords, living in laundry rooms with 3 other people in two-bedroom apartments. Researching about tenants' rights also helps!
2. Make a roadmap
Your journey does not end after graduation. Make a roadmap of what you want to do after school. Do you want to work and live in Canada? Do you want to pursue additional higher education? What happens if your initial plan fails? Do you have plan B, C, D? This should go hand in hand with your research. The rule of thumb is to create a roadmap solid enough that you have a clear idea of your goals, yet flexible enough that you can change things up when you're met with hurdles.
3. Get involved in the immigration and admission process
The thing about hiring an agent for immigration and admission is that it's safe and easy. However, most students and parents miss out on a bunch of important stuff when they depend on an agent. I made it a point to know the process for international students from my research before landing in Canada because I wanted to know exactly what it takes to be here. When you're alone in Canada, it's good to know who you can call for help with services.
4. Part–time work adds up
Got some spare time in between school days? Get a part-time job! Retail, service, and on-campus work are all beneficial because you quickly get to learn how things work in Canada and you get some money doing it. Make sure you pay attention to your eligibility, and always prioritize school. Your eligibility for work is determined by the notes in your study permit. When you apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), you will get the details on your employment eligibility.
5. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
When I came to Canada, I knew one person: the admission advisor that I had been in contact with through e-mail. When school started, I immediately started networking. When we talk about networking, we often think about rubbing elbows with people in the industry over a bottle of Dom Perignon... or maybe that's just me!
In reality, networking is as easy as commenting on someone's interesting insight via Zoom, or a simple follow up with a direct message on Instagram. It is no doubt easier to network when you can meet people face-to-face, but it's still possible to gain some good connections through breakout rooms. The important thing is to reach out to others without an expectation of reward — connections will naturally flow!
There are over 350,000 international students in Canada, and often it's hard for them to find educational funding. Rai participated in HigherEdPoints' ALT-Scholarship and raised funds for her education! You can participate too, it's open to ALL students currently enrolled in post-secondary education in Canada and is an opportunity for you to crowd-fund donations of cash and loyalty points to help pay for your tuition with HigherEdPoints.
Get more info on the ALT-Scholarship