Student Life in Canada

August 28, 2023


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Students worldwide flock to Canada's universities for Canada's famously high-quality education, overall high quality of life and fantastic job opportunities.

Student life in Canada, with its student support networks, safety and security and bustling nightlife is one of the key motivators for international students who choose to study in Canada. Should you choose to study in Canada, two things are certain: you will receive a world-class education and have an incredible experience doing so.

So, without further ado, here is what to expect from student life in Canada!

Campus Life

Living and studying on a Canadian campus is an enriching experience for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The campuses are vibrant and offer many facilities and resources to support students in their academic journey.

From state-of-the-art libraries to research labs, Canadian universities and colleges provide a conducive environment for learning.

Campus life in Canada offers various amenities to enhance the student experience. Most campuses have student centers that provide recreational facilities such as:

  • Gymnasiums
  • Sports fields
  • Fitness classes
  • Parks and recreation facilities

These spaces encourage students to maintain a healthy lifestyle and engage in physical activities outside of their academic commitments.

Find out more about life as a student in Canada’s top five designated learning institution (DLI) colleges.

Undergraduate and Post Graduate Student life

As an undergraduate and postgraduate student in Canada, you can expect to have some of the following experiences. As an undergraduate, you’ll attend lectures, conduct lab research, and go to student tutorials and workshops.

As a postgraduate student, most of your time will be spent attending lectures, researching your project, dissertation or thesis. Renowned lecturers and professors will guide you through your study program and help you receive the results you want to achieve.

Find out more about what to expect as a student in the top 6 universities in Canada.


Getting around as an international student in Canada is relatively easy. The country has a well-developed transport system in major cities and towns that include:

  • Buses
  • Trains
  • Subways
  • Taxis

Many campuses also have shuttle services that transport students to and from nearby areas. It is advisable to get a transit pass, which offers students unlimited access to public transportation at a discounted rate. Below are the transportation fees and transit discounts you can expect as a student in Canada:

Transit and Student Travel Discounts
Provider Student Discount
Greyhound Bus Save 45% on fares to and from select universities. There's a 10% student discount on adult fares.
Via Rail Discount on multi-trip passes for students.
Air Canada Discount on multi-trip passes for students.
GO Transit 22.5% off adult student fares with 8% off Presto fares
Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Discount on monthly TTC pass for tertiary students
Desjardins Discount car insurance rates for students
Zipcar Students enrolled in participating institutions receive discount rates if they borrow a Zipcar.

Food and Groceries

Canada is a melting pot of cultures, and this diversity is reflected in its culinary scene. International students have the opportunity to explore various cuisines from around the world.

On-campus dining options range from cafeterias to food courts, offering various meals to suit different dietary preferences. If you enjoy going out to eat and have the means to do so, the table below presents some discounts you can expect as a student dining out in Canada’s popular restaurants.

Student Restaurant Discounts
Restaurant/ Store Student Discount
Arby’s 10% Off
Buffalo Wild Wings 10% off at participating locations
Bulk Barn 10% off on Wednesdays
Burger King 10% off
Metro Grocery Stores 10-15% discount on Tuesdays at participating locations.
Toby’s Pub and Eatery Cheap drinks specials + 15% off from Sundays to Thursdays
Hard Rock Cafe Show your International Student Identity Card (ISIC) card and get 10% off
Insomnia 20% off all meals (weekend and holiday brunches)
Fika Cafe 10% off
Food Basics Get Discounts on Tuesdays by showing your student ID
Fresh With your student ID, you get 15% off
Loblaws Discounts on tuesdays
Real Canadian Superstore Discounts on Tuesdays
No Frills Discounts on “Dollar Days” for students
St. Louis Bar And Grill 20% off or 5 CAD off and a hot menu item
Superstore DTuestday discounts
Valu-mart Tuesdays and get discount

For those who prefer cooking their meals, grocery stores are readily available near campuses. Students can find fresh produce, pantry staples, and international ingredients to prepare their favorite dishes. Famous Canadian grocery chains include:

  • Lawtons
  • Needs Convenience
  • FreshCo
  • Safeway
  • Sobeys
  • Trinity Foods
  • Petes Frootique
  • FarmBoy
  • Freshmart
  • Fortinos

Social Life

Socializing and making friends is an integral part of student life in Canada. Universities and colleges organize orientation programs and social events to help students connect with their peers. These events provide a platform for international students to meet people from different backgrounds and build lifelong friendships.

Numerous student clubs and organizations cater to various interests. Joining clubs allows students to pursue hobbies, develop leadership skills, and engage in community service.

Extracurricular Activities

Participating in extracurricular activities is highly encouraged in Canadian universities and colleges. Extracurricular activities go beyond the classroom and provide students with hands-on experiences and practical skills.

Canadian campuses offer a wide range of extracurricular options, including but not limited to:

  • Performing arts clubs
  • Debate societies
  • Entrepreneurship program
  • Outdoor adventure clubs

Learn more about extracurricular activities in Canada.

Off-Campus Activities

Exploring the surroundings and immersing oneself in the local culture is an important aspect of student life in Canada. The country's breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, and diverse cultural experiences offer countless opportunities for off-campus activities.

Students can take advantage of their weekends and breaks to visit:

  • National parks
  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Historical landmarks

Students can also explore nearby towns and cities, go hiking, ski, or try out adventure sports. Engaging in off-campus activities allows international students to discover the beauty of Canada and create unforgettable experiences.

Healthcare and Medical Insurance

International students studying in Canada are required to have health insurance. This ensures they have access to necessary medical services and are protected from high healthcare costs. Canadian universities often have health centers on their campuses that provide basic student medical care and counseling services.

You must be enrolled as an international student in a full-time study program for at least a year or longer to get free primary healthcare in Canada.

Please Note:

It can take up to three months to activate your primary healthcare insurance as a student, so it's advised you take out your healthcare coverage before leaving for Canada.

Learn more about healthcare in Canada.

International Student Services

To support the unique needs of international students, Canadian universities and colleges have dedicated international student services on campus. These services assist with:

  • Visa and immigration matters
  • Academic advising
  • Cultural adjustment
  • Social networking opportunities
  • Basic counseling services
  • Career guidance

International student advisors are available to answer questions and provide support throughout the academic journey.

Learning French or English

Canada is a bilingual country, with English and French being the official languages. International students can improve their language skills while studying in Canada. Many universities and colleges offer language courses to help students enhance their English or French proficiency.

Your proficiency in English or French will be tested via the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and Test d’évaluation de français (TEF), respectively. Other language testing assessments include the Pearson Test of English (for English) and Test de Connaissance du français (TCF).

Improving language skills facilitates better communication and opens up more opportunities for international students. Being bilingual or multilingual is highly valued in the job market, and acquiring language skills can greatly enhance your career prospects.

Learn more about the IELTS.

Mentorship Programs

To assist international students in their academic and personal growth, many Canadian institutions offer mentorship programs. These programs pair experienced students or alumni with incoming international students to provide guidance and support. Mentors help new students navigate campus life, understand academic requirements, and provide advice on various aspects of student life in Canada.

International Student Groups

International student groups are an integral part of campus life in Canada. These groups bring together students from different countries and cultures, providing a platform to celebrate diversity and share experiences.

They organize cultural events, workshops, and social activities to promote cross-cultural understanding and integration. Many international student groups also use social media to coordinate their activities and recruit new international students.

These groups often become a second family for international students, providing a sense of belonging and a support system away from home.

Study and Work as a Student in Canada

One of the major advantages of studying in Canada as an international student is the opportunity to work while studying. Canadian institutions allow students to work part-time on or off-campus for up to 20 hours a week during the academic year and full-time (40 hours per week) during scheduled breaks. This enables students to:

  • Gain valuable work experience
  • Earn income
  • Offset their living expenses
  • Pay their tuition fees

The experience you gain while working as a student can be beneficial in providing you with a pathway to permanent residency through programs like the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or for finding a job in Canada after your studies.

Find out about popular part-time jobs for students in Canada.

Why Study in Canada

Canada is consistently ranked as one of the top destinations for international students. There are several reasons why studying in Canada is highly beneficial as highlighted in the video below:


Can I Bring My Family to Canada While Studying?

You can bring your family to Canada while studying. Spouses, common-law partners, and dependent children may be eligible for study permits, work permits, or visitor visas depending on their eligibility, needs, and circumstances. Consult a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) or go to the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada website to understand the specific requirements and procedures.

What is the Academic Calendar in Canada?

The academic calendar in Canada varies depending on the institution and program of study. Generally, the academic year is divided into two semesters: fall (September to December/January) and winter (January to April). Some institutions offer a summer semester (April/May to July). The exact start and end dates may vary, so students must refer to their institution's academic calendar for specific dates.