Monthly Archives: July 2013

Finding Temporary Accommodations while Studying in Canada

res-kitchen study in CanadaMoving to a new country can be overwhelming, especially if you have not found a place to stay for your study period.  This concern is one of the most often asked inquiries that I get; where can I stay while looking for a permanent residence?

Most universities and colleges are well aware that incoming students may need temporary accommodations and have information available to students to ease their transition to Canada and the institution.

Where Can I Stay?

The best thing to do is to contact the international centre at the university or college where you will be studying in Canada.  They will have information available regarding temporary accommodations for their incoming international students.  Some of the places they may direct you to are:

Nearby Hotels – Often there will be a few hotels in close proximity to the college or university where you will be studying.  The international centre may send you a list of hotels or apartments that offer residency for a few days to a month or more.  You will have to call them directly or work through your international student recruitment agent in your home country to book a room for temporary accommodations.

Campus Residence – The different residences on campus will have a few rooms set aside for temporary accommodations.  Students can book these rooms for a short period until they find the appropriate accommodations.  Most campus residences have contact information online, either an email or phone number where they can be contacted.  Try to contact them earlier rather than later to make sure that you do get a room that you can stay in for a short time.

Home Stay – Sometimes individual families will open their home for a short time.  Again contact your international centre at the university or college where you will be studying in Canada for contact names and details.

Of course the cost of short temporary accommodations will be costly.  For example Campus Towers which borders the University of Alberta campus charges $185 per night.  A hotel further away, a 20 minute walk to campus charges $120 per night.  So you do want to limit your stay to only a few nights while you are looking for the right place to live while studying in Canada.

When looking for a place to live, if you do not plan to stay in a campus residence, contact the international centre at the university or college where you will be studying for off campus information.  You can also leave the headache of finding accommodations to your Canadian international recruitment consultant in Pakistan who will help you search for either a temporary or permanent place to live.

Cost of Health Care Insurance while Studying in Canada

studying canada doctoraMedical services in Canada are expensive and you must have medical insurance coverage while you are studying in Canada.  There is no one set premium amount for health care insurance for international students studying in Canada.  Each province has their own health care insurance plan and each sets their own policies regarding international students.  Additionally not all universities or colleges in Canada offer the same health insurance package to their students due to enrolment numbers and different health insurance providers.

Nevertheless, international students can find out about health care insurance prior to their arrival in Canada.  Here are some general guidelines once it comes to the cost of health care insurance while studying in Canada.

Provincial Health Care Coverage – Several provinces allow international students to opt into their basic health care insurance coverage plans.  These plans are free to all residents of the province including international students studying in that province and students are eligible for the same benefits as other residents under the plan.  Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba offer this medical insurance coverage free to international students.

To be eligible to apply for provincial coverage, students must show that they will be in the province for 12 months or more.  Manitoba has a policy of 6 months, not 12.  You will have to show supporting documents to confirm that you will be a student for that period of time and that you reside in that province.  In most cases you can apply as soon as you arrive.

In British Columbia, you must also apply for the province’s medical insurance plan, but it is not free.  They charge around $66 per month.  International students are not eligible for provincial health care benefits in most of the other provinces.

Health Care Benefits through your Educational Institute – All students will automatically be charged for health care benefits and you will see these premiums added to your tuition and fee assessment.  These are compulsory fees as every international student must pay into some health care insurance plan.  In the cases where you have free provincial health care benefits, these added health care insurance packages are for extended health care services that include prescriptions, dental, ambulance and other services that are not included under the provincial plans.  In cases where international students are not eligible for provincial coverage, these medical insurance packages include both basic and extended benefits.

Under certain conditions, an international student can opt out of the extended medical insurance plans, especially if they can prove that they have coverage under a different insurance provider.

Depending on where you go to school, compulsory medial insurance costs at an educational institution can range anywhere from $400 to $900 (or more depending on certain conditions) per year.

In all cases, check with the International Centre at the institution where you will be attending to understand what are your medical care benefits and how those will be available to you.  You should also inquire about the provincial health care insurance plans to see how you apply for those if you are eligible.  Some universities offer their students limited onsite medical facilities; again check with the international centres to see what provisions you have.

Travel Insurance – It is advised to obtain medical travel insurance before you leave your home country to cover you in the case of an emergency while you are traveling and also for that interim period while you apply for a provincial plan.

If you need assistance to realise your goals of studying in Canada, contact your Canadian international student representative in Pakistan.  Inquire about their excellent consultancy services and rates.


How a Graduate Student Can Reduce the Cost of Studying in Canada

studying in canada gradIf you are planning on studying a graduate program in Canada, you may come across this term, graduate funding.  Graduate studies in Canada are generally research intensive and the graduate students they take in often are eligible to work through some funding from the university or department.  If you can land one of these positions you can considerably reduce the cost of your studies

What kind of funding is available?

Guaranteed funding – This is basically what it states.  There is usually a base amount that is guaranteed, somewhere around $12,000 to $18,000 depending on the university and/or the department.  The funds will come either through the department’s operating account or from grant funding.  In some cases, if the department cannot offer you any funding, they will not even accept your admission.  So if you are admitted, you automatically get a base amount.

Research assistantships – The student usually works on some research being conducted in the department.  He/she will be paid either by his or her supervisor or by the department, depending on which research project he/she is assigned to.  Beware that the sciences, medicine and engineering are heavily funded disciplines so there is more research dollars allocated to these areas.  Not as much is handed out to the humanities, education other similar disciplines.

Teaching assistantships – As a graduate student you will work as a teaching assistant either in a lab or seminar setting, teaching undergraduate students.

Awards and Scholarships – There are basically two types of awards or scholarships.

Internal – these are awarded from the university itself.  You may or may not have to apply for them, so make sure to check out this information when choosing your university.

External – these are awarded from external sources such as governments, private foundations or corporations or from world organisations.  For example the Commonwealth Scholarship is an external one, anyone from a commonwealth country can apply for this one.  In all cases, with the external scholarships/awards, the student must fill in an application.  This is not done through the university.

These are the most common funds available to help reduce the cost of your graduate program.  To find out more about studying in Canada, contact a Canadian consultancy firm located in Lahore.


This is Important! Kids Lose One to Three Months of Learning Each Summer

math tuitionNot going to school during the summer causes brain drain.  Whether the student loses up to three months of learning is debatable, but the fact is they do lose some of what they were taught the previous year.  The biggest loss is in math.

So what does a parent do for the summer to keep their child’s math abilities up to speed?  The problem is that in the summer, activities should be fun.  Here are a number of fun ways your child can have some math brain gain during the summer months:

Cooking in the Kitchen – Cooking is an excellent way to use math skills, especially where the recipe calls for exact measurements of cups, teaspoons, pounds or kg.  For the mother, it is more time consuming to teach your child how to cook, but the benefits pay off in the end.  Not only have you kept them busy using math skills, but you will have gained another chef in the family.  That budding chef will someday make your dinner.

Sewing Projects – Sewing projects are another good way to keep up those math skills.  It doesn’t matter what sewing project it is, math is involved; geometry, fractions, measuring in inches or centimetres, etc. and etc.  Don’t make the first project complicated; keep it simple like a handy shopping bag.

Grocery Shopping – Grocery shopping is a great way to teach your child financial math.  Have them figure out the approximate cost before they get to the cashier till.  If you are more than one of the same item, have your child multiply the numbers to get the cost.  Not only will you be teaching them math, but they will also learn the value of groceries and may not be so demanding for their favourite junk food when they see how much food actually costs.  You are then teaching a life skill to your child.

Math Games Online – there are lots of online math games.  Some are better than others.  One good math game site is Cool Math.

Building Project – Get your child to build something, either on paper or with the building material.  Perhaps they only do a blueprint, or if you have the time and resources teach them how to build a bird house, or some other small project.  Here they will be using a number of math concepts to build their project.

Summer Math Camps – If you are lucky enough to find a fun Math summer camp, then by all means send them to that.  It will get them out of the house, stimulate their brains and help them with their math.

Academy – There is always an academy but this may not necessarily be the most enjoyable way to retain math abilities.  You could talk to the academy staff to see if they incorporate fun activities in their summer math classes.

Learning math does not have to be boring but it does require a certain amount of effort on the part of the parent to have your child have a fun-filled math gain summer.  The other plus side to this is that you and your child can spend some quality family time together.


Let Your Children Grow Up to Go to School

I finally was able to capture a picture of what I believe is dangerous. 

school grow up

A sunroof in a car is an opening in the roof of a vehicle to allow fresh air and sunlight to enter the vehicle where the passengers and driver sit.  It is there to be enjoyed by all passengers.  It was never intended as a door or window for young children to exit while the car is moving.

Yet that is what I have seen many times in my daily travels through the streets of Lahore.  I am absolutely horrified when I see this because I think, don’t the parents love their children enough to keep them from danger.  Why do they expose them to this danger?  Do they think this is cute?  But when does cute stop being cute?

If the driver has to apply the brakes quickly or if God forbid, there was an accident and the car came to an immediate stop or jolt what would happen to that little 4 or 5 year old boy or girl?  I don’t even want to think about it but we do have to be realistic.  At the least the child would be injured with neck or head injuries.  At the extreme, the force of the impact in an accident could throw the child from the vehicle causing back, neck or spinal damages, perhaps permanent life- altering damages.  The child may have internal injuries or may even lose his or her life.  In an instant your child could die because of this dangerous practice.

So parents, next time your precious little ones wants to stick their heads or bodies outside the sunroof please, for their sakes, for your sakes, stop them.  It is not cute, it is dangerous.  Please let your children grow up to go to school, to become adults, to have a future, one that they can enjoy and you can enjoy.  Do everyone a favour and say no to using the sunroof as a door or window; as a plaything for children.

Your child is worth it.

Advice for Students Traveling within Canada

airport-studying in canadaI returned to Canada just yesterday for a long overdue visit and found that air travel policies have changed.  So if you are a newly arrived student who is planning on studying in Canada and your final destination is not your port of entry, then please be advised.  What I mean is; if you land in Montreal (first port of entry) and you have to fly via Air Canada or another Canadian airline, to say, Edmonton or Vancouver, then you will want to take note of the following information.

No free food on the planes – Unlike international flights, you will not be given free meals on the plane.  You won’t even get small packages of peanuts or pretzels on the plane.  The only things that are free are drinks like water, soft drinks, tea and coffee.

You can buy food but you cannot pay with cash.  You can only pay with a debit card or credit card.  I am not too sure if they accept international cards or only Canadian debit cards, so beware.

The food is expensive – aeroplane food is not like a good home cooked meal or at your favourite restaurant, so it is not a great deal to pay for it.  And it is expensive.  For example, a small package of peanuts or pretzels will cost your $3 CAD; a bun sandwich can cost you $7 CAD.

Buy at the airport.  So if you think you will be hungry while you are flying buy something at the airport before you connect to your next flight.  Food at the airports can be expensive too, but at least it is better, it is not that expensive, you get some variety and you can pay cash for it.

I don’t want you to be surprised by this air travel policy within Canada so I hope that this advice may be helpful to many students who may be caught unaware.  For more information on studying in Canada tips and consultancy help with your studying in Canada goals contact your Canadian international student recruiting representative in Pakistan.