Adjusting to life in Canada

What you need to know to settle into your new life in Canada.

Understand life in Canada

Welcome to Canada!

Canada represents a mosaic of people linked to various social, ethnic, and linguistic groups from across the country and, increasingly, the world. Despite their differences, many people in Canada are united through some shared values and experiences.

Legally, Canada follows a set of principles outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was the first country to officially adopt multiculturalism as a policy.

Compared to other countries, Canada has a high proportion of immigrants; this is especially true in the city of Vancouver. People living here may be Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or temporary residents (such as international students and workers). Canada also has over a million people with aboriginal identity, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

The Canadian government’s official citizenship study guide includes information about Canada’s history, symbols, regions, and how its government works.

Due to Canada’s diversity, it is difficult to generalize about “Canadian” cultural values. Canada’s Centre for Intercultural Learning offers one perspective on cultural characteristics of people who live in Canada with their Country Insights tool . However, there are many different perspectives on what is considered a “Canadian” trait.

Finally, for a personalized list of logistical steps to take as you adjust to life here, check out Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s “Living in Canada” wizard .

Get a temporary mailing address

You can use International Student Advising as your temporary mailing address when you first get to Canada:

International Student Advising
UBC Life Building
1200 - 6138 Student Union Blvd.
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

We do not accept packages on behalf of students because there is no secure storage space.

After you’re moved into your place of residence, remember to change all of your mailing addresses.

Your cultural transition

Managing your cultural transition

Adapting to your new life at UBC may take some adjustment. Many students go through a period of being frustrated or disenchanted with their new environment, sometimes called cultural transition or “culture shock”. This is a normal part of adjusting to a new place. You're not alone! 

Stages of transition

When you first arrive, you experience exhilaration, anticipation, nervousness, and excitement. This settling-in stage can last a few days, weeks, or months.

By about the third month, it starts to frustrate you that people don’t understand you. You may be having trouble understanding others. You may feel frustrated, depressed that it’s so difficult to get things done. You find yourself wishing that things could be as they were at home. These feelings will fade as you persist in getting to know your new environment.

After about six months, you start to appreciate the differences between your home environment and your new environment. Your sense of humour returns and you feel more balanced. The minor mistakes and misunderstandings that would have frustrated you before  make you smile or laugh now.

Eventually, you begin to feel at home in your new environment and find greater satisfaction – personally and academically.

Where to buy essentials

Contact International Student Development

International Student Advising

Talk to an advisor

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your name
  3. Your citizenship(s)
  4. All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  5. Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  6. If you request specific assistance, please provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter
UBC Life Building
1200-6138 Student Union Blvd.
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1


9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm

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