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Careful preparation is essential in a smooth transition as an Indian student coming to study in Canada.

Knowledge is your first step to making the most of your time in Canada. From visa and financial considerations to academic preparation and living in Canada—this article aims to prepare you with everything you need.

1. Visa and documentation: Indian students may fast-track study permits

Once you have been accepted into a Canadian learning institution, ensure that you have all the necessary documents for a study permit. Generally, you need:

  • Proof of acceptance
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of financial support

You may also need to include other documents such as a medical exam, or, if you plan on studying in Quebec for more than six months, a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (your school can help you apply).

India is one of the countries included under the (SDS) and is a fast-track program that allows eligible students to get their application processed in 20 days. To be eligible for the SDS, you will need additional documents such as a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAN$10,000.

Scotiabank offers a specific that allows you to meet this requirement. You can apply easily online, and you do not need to be in Canada to start the process.

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2. Finances: Create a budget, build credit and open a chequing account

Creating a budget and sticking to it is easier said than done when travelling to a new country. Don’t forget to budget for some fun when you’re calculating tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, and any other costs.

You can try for scholarships and grants to help finance your studies. A Canadian study permit allows you to work part-time during the school year and full-time during scheduled academic breaks.

Once you arrive in Canada, you can open a chequing account. Scotiabank offers an account that’s specifically for .

With the chequing account, you’ll get no monthly fees¹, unlimited debit and Interac◊ e-transfers², unlimited international money transfers³, and more. In Canada, you benefit from having what’s called a “credit score.” This number is built up over time through your credit history. Having a good credit score can help you obtain loans for purchasing a home or a car.

You can start building your credit history by applying for a credit card. Scotiabank offers credit cards to newcomers who have no credit history4 through the or check out some of Scotiabank’s student credit cards.

3. Health Insurance: Make sure you’re covered

Be sure to check whether your educational institution provides health insurance coverage, not all do. Otherwise, you may want to arrange for private health insurance. Although Canada offers publicly-funded healthcare, international students are not covered in all provinces, and some may be subject to a waiting period before becoming eligible. Familiarize yourself with the Canadian healthcare system and understand how to access medical services in case you need it.

4. Accommodation: Find a place to live

As an international student, you may be able to live on-campus, rent off-campus, or even stay with a Canadian family in a homestay. Research what housing options are available near your educational institution and consider shelter costs as well as proximity to campus and amenities. All these factors will play a role in your monthly expenses and lifestyle during your studies.

5. Climate and clothing: Check the weather

What to wear when you get to Canada will largely depend on where you plan to land and during what season. As Canada is a large country, the second largest by land area, your seasonal needs will not be the same in the West as they will be in the East. The West coast tends to be warmer, whereas the East coast and toward the middle of the country experiences colder, harsher winters. Living in Northern Canada is a whole different experience as well. In the territories, there may be fewer daylight hours in the winter and fewer hours of darkness in the summer.

For the winter, you will want to have a winter jacket, winter boots, hats, gloves or mitts, and scarves to keep warm. The fall and spring may call for rubber boots and rain jackets, or at least light jackets. Summertime can be hot and sometimes humid, so be sure to pack shorts and t-shirts as well.

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7. Academic preparation: Get ready for school

The more you know about your educational institution, its campus facilities, student services, and support systems, the more prepared you’ll be to get the help you need. It is also good to be aware of important dates, deadlines, orientation programs and any pre-arrival requirements.

You may also want to prepare for your academic journey by reviewing the curriculum and course requirements for your program. Your professors or academic advisors may be available to answer your questions on pre-study materials or recommended readings.

8. Social activities: Meet people

As you’re researching your institution, be on the lookout for social activities as well. Most learning institutions will have clubs or some sort of international student community. Making friends is not only important for your mental health and well-being, but it can be invaluable in your career long after you graduate.

9. Travel and Arrival: Get where you need to go

Plan your travel arrangements well in advance. Book your flight tickets and also figure out how you’re getting from the airport to your new home. You may want to look into bus routes or arrange for someone to pick you up. There’s always the option to get a taxi, but you may wish to explore more affordable options first.

10. Culture and lifestyle: Learn about food, fun, and finances

It’s a good idea to learn about Canadian culture, customs, and lifestyle before you arrive. To give an example, Canadians typically don’t know what a lakh or crore is, so you might have to say, “hundred thousand” or “ten million”.

Urban centers that are populated with more Indians will likely have access to Indian food that will remind you of home. For vegetarians, there are usually plant-based options at most restaurants, but if you’re not sure it’s a good idea to ask. When dining at any restaurant, keep in mind it is expected that you will tip when you are served at your table or when you are buying a drink at a bar. Although the preference varies from place to place, typically people tip 15-18 percent of their bill.

Canada is a secular nation, but national holidays oftentimes align with Christian celebrations like Christmas and Easter. Many Canadian towns and cities put on holiday-themed activities during the months of November and December. With a large Indian population in Canada, you may also be able to find a diaspora group that puts on events to celebrate your favourite annual holidays.

Outside of the big cities, public transportation may be less developed in Canada as a lot of the locals use cars to get around. You may wish to consider buying a car if you are planning to stay long term in a smaller city. Also, traffic is on the right side of the road in Canada, not the left.

While cash is king in India, in Canada you benefit from having what’s called a “credit score.” This number is built up over time through your credit history. Having a good credit score can help you obtain loans for purchasing a home or a car. You can start building your credit history by signing up and applying for a credit card. Scotiabank offers credit cards to newcomers who have no credit history4 through the .

As you invest in your future, consider choosing Scotiabank for your banking needs in Canada, and see why Scotiabank is the bank for newcomers.

Legal Disclaimer

® Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia.

The Bell trademark is owned by Bell Canada and used under license.

◊ Interac e-Transfer is a registered trade-mark of Interac Corp. Used under license.

† Scotiabank StartRight® Program, created for Canadian Permanent residents from 0–5 years in Canada, International Students and Foreign Workers.

1 Eligibility: you are eligible for the Student Banking Advantage Plan (chequing account) if you are enrolled full-time in a university, community college, or another recognized post-secondary institution in Canada or the United States. You will be required to confirm your student status by providing proof of enrollment.

What happens when you’re no longer a student? When your student status expires based on Scotiabank’s records or you have failed to provide proof of enrollment confirming your full-time student status, the plan will be removed and the account will be converted to the Preferred Package as of December 1st following the date of your student status expiry.

2 Additional fees apply for shared ABM services, cross-border debit transactions and other banking services not included in the Student Banking Advantage Plan account package.

3 Scene+ ScotiaCard® debit card: Earn 1 Scene+ Point for every $5 on debit purchases (up to a maximum of 300 points per transaction and 600 points per day) made from an eligible Scotiabank chequing or savings account using your Scene+ ScotiaCard debit card linked to a Scene+ membership, including Interac Debit contactless and Visa Debit transactions. Normal Interac Debit contactless transaction limits apply. Scene+ Points accumulated using your Scene+ ScotiaCard debit card will be updated within 2-3 days to the associated Scene+ account. Scene+ points are calculated on debit card purchases, less any refunds, returns, or other similar credits. Other conditions apply. Scene+ points can be redeemed for travel, entertainment, shopping, dining, banking or online at . Visit for complete details.

⁴ Subject to credit approval. To be eligible, you must be a participant in the Scotiabank StartRight® Program. To qualify for a credit card, you must be a resident of Canada and the age of majority in your province/territory where you live. Your approval for a credit card and the credit assigned will be determined based on Scotiabank’s credit criteria, including your verifiable income and credit history (If available). The credit amount of up to $15,000 under the Scotiabank StartRight® Program is subject to change by Scotiabank from time to time without prior notice. A credit history in Canada is not required in order to be eligible for a credit card under the Scotiabank StartRight® Program. .

5 Current as of July 6th, 2023. Based on a third party score (Global Wireless Solutions OneScore™) calculated using wireless network testing in Canada against other national wireless networks. See Bell.ca/network.

6 Current as of July 6th, 2023. Available with new activations on Bring Your own Device on $45/20GB a month promotional plan (30-day BYOD; excludes tablets, Mobile Internet and IoT products). Additional one-time fees are subject to change over time. See bell.ca/onetimefees for details. 20GB of data at 250 mbps. Reduced speeds are up to 512 Kbps.

This exclusive Bell offer is only available to select Scotiabank Student GIC customers who have received this offer directly from Scotiabank and addressed to them. Offer current as of July 6th, 2023 and ends [date]. Available with compatible devices within Bell Mobility’s network coverage areas. Internet traffic management practices (ITMP) for Bell Mobility. Speed and signal strength may vary due to traffic, topography, environmental conditions and other factors, like Bell’s management of network resources, using methods which include Internet traffic management practices. See bell.ca/ITMP. Services subject to acceptable use restrictions including consuming excessive network capacity or causing our network to be adversely affected. See bell.ca/acceptableuse.

A one-time Connection Service Fee ($60) is applied on your first bill to activate your device on the Bell network. Additional one-time fees are subject to change over time. See bell.ca/onetimefees for details.

A provincial government 9-1-1 fee may apply where applicable: QC: $0.46/mo.46 cents per month, NS: $0.43/mo.43 cents per month, AB: $0.95/mo.95 cents per month, NB: $0.97/mo.97 cents per month, SK: $2.08/mo.2 dollar 08 cents per month, PE: $0.70/mo.70 cents per month, NL: $0.75/mo.75 cents per month, NWT: $1.70/mo.1 dollar 70 cents per month Bell remits fees withheld to government. Taxes extra. Other conditions apply. To change your rate plan at any time, log in to MyBell. This offer is non-transferable and may not be duplicated. Limit of one (1) offer per customer. All rates, fees, features and benefits are subject to change. Offer may be changed, cancelled or extended at any time and cannot be combined with any other offers except as otherwise permitted.

This offer is provided by Bell and made available to eligible customers of The Bank of Nova Scotia (“Scotiabank”). The purchase and use of the Bell services is governed solely by Bell’s terms and conditions. Scotiabank is not responsible for, and provides no representations, warranties or conditions regarding, this offer or any Bell products or services. Any questions or issues about this offer or the Bell products and services are to be directed to and managed solely by Bell. For more information and to contact Bell visit bell.ca/contactus.

7 Bring-your-own-device rate plans are on a 30-day term and will continue month-to-month thereafter. Rates are subject to change. See bell.ca/mobilitytermsofservice

8 Applies to calls made from Canada to a Canadian phone number or calls received from any number while you are inside Canada. Only available in Canada. Sent texts include texts sent to a Canadian phone number while in Canada and excludes texts sent to a landline, texts sent to a U.S. or international phone number, premium texts (short codes), alerts, texts sent with a messaging application and roaming (international GSM texts). Received texts include texts received while in Canada and excludes roaming, premium texts (short codes), alerts or dial-up texts received from a messaging application.

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