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 House as your temporary mailing address when you first get to Canada:

International House
1783 West Mall
Room 300
Vancouver, BC
V6T 1Z2
Canada

You can pick up your mail from the alphabetized mail boxes beside the front desk in Room 300 in International House during our hours of operation. 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


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

Hostility
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.

Acceptance
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.

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

Where to buy essentials

Sign up for the Community Update newsletter

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You can also submit content to be shared through the Community Update blog and newsletter.

Contact International Student Development