As a graduate from the Computer Science department of Dalhousie University(Halifax/NS, Canada)in 2015, there are a few small points I would like to share with my friends who want to study in Canada.
If you search google for “being a student in Canada” you can find information from hundreds of different articles about how is social environment in cities, culture and people, nightlife, prices etc. Instead of writing the same things and clichés like “ cars stop in front of you when you step down from the pavement,unbelievable!”, “people are so polite, they say thanks and sorry to everything!” I would like to share some misunderstandings and some other information that you probably cannot access in the articles you read as a result of your searches.
Still, I’ll talk about it very briefly: Canada is a very beautiful country where you can experience four seasons, people are abnormally polite and respectful and racism is minimal (yet i have never experienced it) hockey is played and watched rather than soccer (it is very enjoyable to watch), nature is protected meticulously and even in cities you can find natural habitats(they built a different bridge for deers because they were scared of passing across the streets), the tap water is much cleaner than bottled water, the government covers all the health expenses and the level of civilization is very high.
All of the following pictures were taken from Halifax.
When applying to a University:
- Some important documents are not usually presented to you in the list of “required documents”, but may have many returns if you add them as an “additional document”
. If your transcript does not include the letter grades in the system of 100 (such as A:96-100, A-:90-96) take a formal document that shows this from your school and use it together with your transcript. I did not use it at first but they wanted it later so it cost me alot more and i was almost rejected from the school.
. If you are studying/studied 100% in English, you should get an official document from your school that clearly states it and add it to your application to support your language proficiency.This document will ensure that some schools will not ask you for your language test scores such as TOEFL or IELTS. For example, Dalhousie University did not ask for a foreign language test score from me thanks to this document. Also, if the school(s) you apply to wants you to take TOEFL or IELTS, i suggest you to choose IELTS, it’s much easier to get high marks.
. Your intention and reference letters are very important, they are taken into account and are critically affecting your score from the school you are applying to. In your letter of intention you will state why you want to study in this school and you have to praise yourself a bit. There are thousands of examples on the internet for this letter. On the website of the school you are going to apply, you will most likely find the reference letter they want, in draft from( if you cant find it you can send an e-mail to the department’s secretary that you are applying ) you must use that draft in your application. In addition, some schools expect you to send reference letters in a sealed envelope, while others want your reference teacher to send them by mail; make sure that you know how to submit it. Finally, if 2 reference letters are requested, send 2, if you send more, it is not welcome.
. If you have work experience, your CV may make a difference, even if it’s not desired among the application documents, put it in the letter as it will show that you have professional experience in the field. Even if you dont get choosen to the school, a professor may see your CV and want to work with you.
- In case of your admission to the school, you can reach the professors you want to work by e-mail express the reasons you want work with them make sure that you read their publications (by expressing the names of some of them and their main thoughts) and you can easily make them like you by doing this. If they accept you, you will not search for a mentor when you come to the school, you can start your thesis / project in advance and you will be able to follow the opportunities of scholarship with your professor. Perhaps the professor has a budget to support a student and you will be able to allocate this budget because you have contacted him.
- You don’t have to wait until you graduate, you can still apply while you are studying.
- If your GPA is high (min. 3.50 / 4.00) please indicate in the application form or the letter of intent that you want to get a scholarship. The deadline for application for scholarship and non-scholarship is at different times. I suggest that you complete your application to begin with no later than the next fall in december.
- You can reach Dalhousie University’s fees for the 2017/2018 academic year from the link below and get an idea of the general tuition fees in Atlantic Canada. Schools in Atlantic Canada are much more expensive than other states, and I recommend schools in Saskatchewan to those who are looking for cheap universities.
- Usually professors are not egoistic and are doing their best to help you. When we said we didn’t understand the subject, they even gave us private lessons. When we said we were afraid of the exam, they gave us examples to work and motivated us. We asked the most ridiculous questions in the world, yet they didn’t give us any weird looks. When we see a award-winning proffessor on the road we say “Hello George” and he speaks to us, or we have always had such proffessors, there might be exceptions. Professors would ask if you need anything to the whole classroom (80+ people).
- From the first week, the lessons start very harshly. Each proffessor forces you as if you were just taking his lesson and you usually don’t have a considerable amount of time without homework or exams until semester ends. Homework is quite difficult; it wouldn’t be difficult if i did some of them as my thesis. I’m not saying this to scare you but it how it works around here. It is absolutely necessary that you work here regularly in your free time, once you let go of working you can’t catch it again and you have to work day and night to be able to pass the class.
3. If you can’t / didn’t attend to a course, i suggest you to explain why you can’t attend or participate in an e-mail to the professor.
4. Your professors are closely following your work and projects. Please take all of your classes and work for it , some professors can and will create some problems if you don’t.
5. “Plagiarism” is a very serious crime, even in the simplest task, if you are quoting from any source, especially from the internet, i strongly suggest you specify your source(even if you show a direct copy/paste of the source). In addition, employees at your school’s “writing center” read your assignments / homework / projects with you for free and correct any mistakes related to your English, visit them regularly.
6. There is a serious but sweet competition among students. If you ask your friend something about the lesson, he tells you everything he knows about the lesson and makes sure you understand it. But if you ask the same friend of yours about his mark of the exam or if you want him to show you his homework, he might get angry with you. Also don’t get surprised if you can’t sit in the school’s library on Sunday.
Making money while studying :
- You will be allowed to work part-time up to 20 hours per week from the beginning of your formal studentship starts. The minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $ 10.85 per hour. ( Checked on 16.07.2017) Finding a part-time job quite easy, especially for the waiter and cashier positions are required to work part-time. So you can earn at least $ 217 per week. (excluding tips and bonuses!). In addition, you can also find a position related to your profession; me and my wife were able to work as part-time software developers in the last year of our studentship. By working part-time my friend earns $ 1600 per month, I have seen with my eyes from his bank account.
2. You have the right to work unlimitedly within your school. Many Indian friends of mine work in 2-3 different jobs within the school. I had a friend who earned $ 800 per month working at the copy center. If you want to work within your school, you can easily find yourself a job by following your school’s official career website. Here’s a little advice, you get one close Indian friend. These guys are somehow aware of all the open positions in the school, so if they help you, your job will be much easier. You can find positions as you see in the picture below.
- If you are applying for a Master or Doctorate and your grade point average is above 3.50 / 4.00, you yave various scholarship opportunities. Please indicate in the letter of intent and application form that you want to get a scholarship when applying. Even if you don’t get a scholarship from the school, you can be a Research Assistant Officer and earn a considerable salary. If you keep your grade point average in your school, you can be a “Teaching Assistant” in the courses you are successful in and you can earn between $ 15-17 per hour. In addition, some professors seek students to work with in their own projects, but you will surely be a few. If your GPA is high and you can get along with the professor, you can earn up to $ 10000.
Make sure to ask your school’s “Funding Opportunities” on the official website of your school or the International Center of your school. For those who are interested in studying in Nova Scotia:
Important: You don’t pay any taxes to the state from the money you earn by working in the school! State-based tax rates are avaiable at the following link:
- Master’s degree with thesis is about $ 1000 less than without thesis. If you are in the program without thesis and your GPA is high at the end of the first semester, you can quickly make $ 1000 profit by switching to the program with thesis.
- Once you have officialy started working at the school, you will receive a proof of employment certificate from your departmen and contact your state with the health insurance provided. Normally, you pay $ 500 for school insurance. If you can transfer your health insurance into the state, the school will refund you $ 500 ( even if you have scholarship, it’s free money). Usually people don’t know this info.
- You must apply for a tax return in April, even if you can’t get a refund at all. In this way, you will be entitled to receive a benefit allowance of $ 150 per quarter. In addition, if you make your tax returns regularly every year, (carry forward income) you get a refund of $ 5000 after you work for 1 year after your graduation. Therefore, it’s important not to miss tax returns. The International Center Department of your school provides you with free support for all your government related transactions, including tax return.
- You may have guessed already but because you are from Turkey it is a challenge to find a place to stay, because many homeowners doesn’t return to your calls or emails because you are not in Canada. Start the search early. Make sure you are looking for a home where the heating is included.
- A general problem of the Canada is the bug named “bedbug”, it can be seen even in the most luxurious apartments. It simply a kind of insect that lives in your bed and bites you while you are sleeping and makes you scratch all day long. Becaıse of these insects, people here don’t want to move to a furnished house or buy a second-hand piece of furniture ( especially a bed and a sofa). If the building you want to move to is registered on the following website, I would strongly recommend that you stay away even if they give it to you free:
- There are dormitories that your school will provide you if you want but students love to party, if you are okay with the noise you can choose to stay in dormitories.
- 1+1 rent apartments in Halifax starts form $ 750, but if you want your school to be in walking distance you have to pay $ 900. There are options for renting a room with shared bathroom and kitchen. This option is always the cheapest, if you are alone i suggest you evaluate your situation. Your landlord has to clean the common areas at least once a week, so there is not much pollution. An important detail is that you should pay attention not hinder your rent payments, or both your credit rating will be reduced and your landlord will be a negative reference to you when you want to move out and making your business difficult.
Other Living Conditions
- Winter is a little more difficult to live compared to Turkey. Of course as son as i arrive in Canada, i feel the need to buy a jacket that is the thickest and most expensive. I wouldn’t suggest you to do that, because you will probably not get the yield you want from that jacket. No matter how many degrees outside, the inside of public transport (usually) and the interior of the buildings are always warm (25+ degrees). The jacket you buy will keep you warm outside but when you get inside you will be sweating and when you go outside again you will get cold because of this. As a matter of fact, the air temperature may also vary during the day. My suggestion is that you have two coats of medium thickness and if necessary, overlap jackets. But i recommend that you have a sturdy, non-slip bottom and waterproof snowboard.
So far we’ve been in the snow storm 3-4 times in winter. It rains at least 8 hours of wind mixed with snow and it’s snowing too much. These days get announced by meteorology as “alarm” at least 1 week before, and schools / workplaces are on vacation that day. As soon as the storm is over, the municipality quickly clears the roads and life continues where it left off. Even though it sounds terrible when you first heard it, it doesn’t have a number, we even like it because it’s a holiday !
- If you are cooking your own meal on a regular basis, you can spend $ 300-400 a month to eat good quality foods. Prices are quite affordable, especially the meat prices. A detail i like is no tax on uncooked foods to encourage people to cook at home. For example, if you buy raw chicken it is $ 10 but it is $11.5 if you want to buy cooked chicken.
- Before you go to Canada as a student, check your school’s facebook groups and become a member of the crowded one. There are volunteers working to help those who come from abroad, especially for greeting the new comers at the airport, helping you to arrange your stay and help you with the basic operations you need to do when you arrive. You can identify a few and try to communicate. When i first arrived, an Indian group met me at the airport at 2 am and took me up to my house. They helped me with every situation for two weeks.
- Before you apply for your job application, you should rearrange your resume in the format commonly used in Canada. In addition, many workplaces demand a letter of intent, along with your resume, which explains why you want to work there. If you prepare your resume and letter of intent, your school’s “Career Service Department” will give you free support.
- When you find a part-time job inside or outside of the school, i suggest that you apply for your “social insurance number” by going to the nearest “Service Canada” office; you can get your salary without this number. If you delay your doing this you can get your salary delayed.
- If you are planning to move to Canada after you graduate, I recommend you to use your credit card and make payments on time; because it will increase your credit rating and will help you to attract more credits with less interest to buy property when the time comes.
- If you want to drive a car, you need to get a driving licence here; Your driver’s licence in Turkey (if you got any), will be valid for the first 6 months after you get in to Canada. Try to park your car in closed parking lots as much as possible in winter, or you may need to clear snow before using it.
- In my city (Halifax), for some reason, many people are allergic to perfume and cologne, when you have a meeting /presentations etc. If you smell perfume you can get weird looks from another people or experience unpleasent things. When i went to my first day of work with perfume, they said “Go today, come back tomorrow.” They sent me back to my home.
- Some important websites:
www.kijiji.ca You have all kinds of stuff on this site. All property types, second-hand goods, rent/sale, swap facilities, used vehicles. If you are looking for a part-time job, open a post under this page to share with your experience what you want to work in a job, you will get called by at least 5 people in 2 weeks, i guarantee you.
www.careerbeacon.comIt’s career website.
www.indeed.ca It’s a career website as well but this one got 2 good options.
- When they review your resume for the positions you apply, the notification is coming. 2. publish your resume and allow the employer to find you; 3-5 company got in touch with me back then.
www.linkedin.com Linkedin is used in a fairly functional way. If you don’t have a profile, I suggest you start creating as soon as possible. When i apply for a position, someone from that company is immediately look through my linkedin profile, it’s amazing.
I hope you’ve been satisfied with this article. Let’s make our closure with the famous historical parliament building, goodbye.
Translator: Oğuz Kısa