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Schools in Canada are helping international students feel more at home


Thousands of international students arrive to Canada each year with hopes of broadening their education and also making new local friends. International students may have a thriving education but making new Canadian friends can be a bit of a challenge.

According to a report by the Canadian Bureau for International Education the majority of foreign students say they have very few or no Canadian friends. The students want to learn more about Canadian culture and the local way of life but it may be easier to turn to school friends who speak the same language and or are international students too.

Many international students say that making local friends helps them succeed while they are studying. The University of British Columbia assists international students by providing them with a program which makes it easier for the students to make local friends and helps ease the students into their new academic life.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) provides a “Community Program”. This program is designed to help international students to become a part of the local student community. UBC provides the following tips for international students wanting to be a part of the local student scene here in Vancouver:

  •  Join a student club or peer program
  • Sign up for an intramural sports team
  • Become a volunteer
  • Join a community group

Vancouver is a diverse city with people arriving to British Columbia from around the world. International students enjoy making friends with people from their home country through local cultural groups and organizations in the city. Many of the bigger cultural groups and communities have their own cultural or faith centres. These centres are the perfect place to make new friends.

Canadian students are friendly and like to make new friends. Most local students are eager to learn about other cultures and countries. But it takes two people to be friends, international students are encouraged to reach out to Canadian students and start a conversation.

If you are an international student and thinking about working in Canada, these skills will also help you feel better and happier in the workplace too. Below are five tips for international students to build a circle of local friends and have a full social life.

  • Make friends with a wide variety of people. Try speaking with classmates in different courses. Venture off campus and attend events that interest you.
  • Don’t be embarrassed about being different. Canada is a country made of people from around the world, chances are your new local friend may have another friend from the same country.
  • Speak slowly, and ask people to repeat. Make eye contact and laugh out loud, being friendly and outgoing will make it easier for people to talk to you. Be yourself and share your interests and likes with your new Canadian friends.
  • Don’t stay in too close contact with home. It actually helps to venture out a bit on your own, spend more time making local friends than you do speaking with people back home. This will help you learn more about the local culture and enjoy your time in Vancouver.
  • Pursue your interests. If you like a certain sport or hobby, try to find groups that share the same interests, this is a great way to make local friends. Be the first person to say hello in the group.

If you are an international student try not to spend too much time with people who speak the same language. Break from the group and start a conversation with a student who sits next to you in class.

There are so many opportunities in Canada and if you are living on campus or plan to work in British Columbia all of these tips will help you start your new life and enjoy your social time that much more!

Written by Sacha DeVoretz, blog contributor to Bell Alliance

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