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### Adapting to College Life in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

Four years, six months, and seven days ago, I arrived on Canadian soil from the UK for the first time. After enduring a lengthy immigration queue, bidding difficult goodbyes, and embarking on a 13-hour solo journey across the Atlantic, I realized that the challenges might not be entirely behind me.

With no international phone plan, a mere £200 inaccessible in my bank account, lacking adapters for my electronics, and devoid of any Canadian currency, I found myself in a worrisome situation. That night, nestled in a hostel by the Pacific Ocean, I witnessed my laptop and phone power down with no means of recharging them, took a shower without soap, settled into a bunk in a shared 15-bed dormitory, secured my backpack to my foot, and drifted off to sleep. Welcome to Canada, Heidi.

Despite the rocky start, it goes without saying that my study abroad experience was profoundly transformative and unforgettable. Settling in, however, proved to be a formidable task.

Yet, once I acclimated, the subsequent four years overflowed with cherished memories: beach gatherings, hiking adventures, cycling escapades, surfing exploits, skiing ventures, road trips to Calgary and Seattle, and spontaneous dance sessions to street musicians’ melodies in Montreal. While some proclaim these years as the pinnacle of one’s life, I must stress that the real enjoyment commenced after overcoming the initial settling-in phase. So, if you’re 18 and enticed by the prospect of studying abroad, I have some insights to share.

Do not underestimate the importance of matters such as phone contracts and [ppp1]. Initiate preparations early, meticulously review all documentation, and seek guidance from your university.

In the event that your initial visa application is denied (as was my case due to overlooking the necessity of traveling to London for biometric data collection), be prepared to disclose this at every subsequent entry point for the next five years. Additionally, delve into transfer credits, major and minor options, course fees, [ppp2], identify the “add/drop deadline,” and attain proficiency in these aspects.

A degree of financial acumen would also prove beneficial. My first scholarship disbursement encountered a delay due to [ppp3], resulting in a two-week setback. I recommend verifying the overseas policy for your domestic bank account, arriving in Canada with a reserve of Canadian dollars for emergencies, and promptly establishing a Canadian bank account.

Throughout my academic journey, I utilized various banking institutions: RBC, Wise, Vancity, BMO. Nevertheless, Scotiabank stands out as my top recommendation, boasting an exceptional rewards program, a generous credit limit, numerous physical branches (where I suggest initiating the account setup), compatibility with online transactions (imagine my dismay upon discovering the absence of a CVV on the RBC card), and a partnership with Barclays under the Global ATM Alliance. Furthermore, a $100 sign-up incentive sweetened the deal.

Beyond the essentials, grappling with culture shock posed the greatest challenge. Despite holding a BA in anthropology, my cultural and political awareness was embarrassingly scant upon my arrival in 2019.

I distinctly recall encountering my first land acknowledgment during “Jumpstart” (equivalent to Freshers or Orientation Week) and retreating to my room to research the significance of being on traditional, ancestral, unceded territory and why my peers possessed a historical awareness of my homeland that had eluded me.

Transitioning from Britain to Canada felt akin to navigating a school cafeteria; while people extended invitations, there lingered a sense that conversations were transpiring behind one’s back. I urge you to acquaint yourself with the locale you are about to call home and grasp the historical narratives you embody.

Lastly, embrace the prospect of making mistakes. The realm of frat parties caught me off guard, and you might find yourself perplexed by the need to push doors on public buses or navigating the intricacies of online shopping, including the occasional confusion between “$” denoting USD instead of CAD, entailing unexpected international shipping costs.

The toll of distance, both figuratively and financially, can be steep, particularly when adversity strikes and familial support is out of reach. Seeking counsel from relatives may prove challenging due to the time zone disparity. You may be self-reliant, but fostering a sense of community early on is advisable. Remember, nobody navigates this journey alone. Establishing friendships and forging connections is paramount when far away from home, ensuring you have a support system to maximize your study abroad experience.

It’s a roller-coaster ride, but remember, it’s your roller-coaster. Hold on tight and embrace the adventure.