Adjusting to life in Canada

The decision to travel to Canada to pursue your studies is a big one.  Many aspects of life in Canada, I’m sure, are very similar to those in your home country. However, the thought of travelling to a foreign country can be quite intimidating. Rest assured, Canadians are known world-wide for being very polite and friendly.

Ask questions: It is common for students to feel homesick and even frustrated in the first few months upon arrival to a new city.  My best advice for helping to adjust to life in Canada is to ask questions and be curious. Asking questions is a great way to meet new people and learn more about whatever it is you are doing. Asking questions is also a great way to practice your English!  Take advantage of every situation you find yourself in to learn more about Canadian culture. If you decide to stay with a Homestay family or roommates, take the time to have dinner together, use some time out of your weekend to learn more about everyone.

Learn about your environment: The best way to feel more comfortable in any city is to learn about it. In comparison to other major cities in Canada, Victoria is quite small. As such, people are very open to answering questions and even just striking up a conversation while waiting for the bus. Upon your arrival to Victoria, you will immediately be taken by the beautiful scenery and fresh air. Victoria is famous for its outdoor activities such as hiking, golfing, whale watching, skiing and snowboarding, and water sports. Learn more about Victoria and the west coast of Canada .

Get involved in activities: The great thing about life on the Canadian west coast is the weather and the landscape – you could potentially go skiing and golfing in the same day!  The University will also have activities available for you.  Take advantage of these activities to get to know your fellow classmates outside of school.  Taking part in activities is great for making new friends and learning important team building skills that you can use in the classroom.  Getting involved and enjoying yourself through activities will definitely help you to adjust to living in a new and exciting city.

Embrace the diversity: Because Canada is very multicultural, you will be able to find local food markets and restaurants that should help you feel more at home. I encourage you to explore and try new things while in Canada.  Again, the best way to adjust to life in Canada is to learn about the culture and enjoy all of your time on and off campus.

Get tips on dealing with culture shock.

The Canadian government offers insight into culture shock and adjusting to a new way of life – learn about the Canadian way of life !

Canadian University Grading System – Understanding the Numbers

When international students apply to Canadian universities, one item that stands out is GPA – Grade Point Average.  For many international applicants, this is an important issue if they wish to study in Canada.  The student’s GPA is an important part of getting accepted into a Canadian university.

What makes matters a bit more confusing is that the GPA used in Canadian universities is different from the GPA standard of other countries – that is different countries have different numbering systems.  Some countries have a GPA out of 5.0, while others have one out of 20.0.  Most Canadian universities have a GPA out of 4.0 – but some use a GPA out of 9.0.

The tables below show the basic percentage equivalency for the two scales.

SCALE I:

Letter Grade % GPA Number
A+ 92-100 4.33
A 88-91 4
A- 85-87 3.67
B+ 82-84 3.33
B 78-81 3
B- 75-77 2.67
C+ 72-74 2.33
C 68-71 2
C- 65-67 1.67
D 55-64 1
F 0-54 0
SCALE II:
Letter Grade % GPA Number
A+ 90-100 9.0
A 80-89 8
B+ 75-79 7
B 70-74 6
B- 65-69 5
C+ 60-64 4
C 55-59 3
C- 50-54 2
D 40-49 1
F 0-39 0
What some may see is the difference between these two scales with the percentage for the letter grade (e.g. a “B” requires 78% for the 4.0 scale, but a “B” requires 70% for the 9.0 scale) – the specific percentage depends on each Canadian university.  Again, the 4.0 GPA scale is the more common one in Canada.

The other consideration is the number of credit hours that a course is worth.  For example, usually a course is 4 months or 8 months.  If it’s 4 months, then the course is usually worth 3 credit hours.  If it’s 8 months, then the course is 6 credit hours.

To calculate your GPA when applying to a Canadian university, you must look at your letter grade (e.g. a “B” or 3.0) and the credit hours (e.g. 3 credit hours).  You must then multiply the grade with the credit hours for each course and divide by the total number of credit hours.  Here’s an example of a student who has taken 1 year of university courses:

Course Grade (Number) Length/credit hours GPA Value
Math B (3) 3 9
Physics A (4) 3 12
Biology C+ (2.33) 6 13.98
English C (2) 3 6
Sociology B (3) 6 18
Communications B- (2.67) 3 8.01
Chemistry A (4) 3 12
Statistics A (4) 3 12
Total 30 90.99

The student has taken 30 credit hours over two semesters (8 months), which is the typical course load for a Canadian student.  The overall GPA number is 90.99.  This number must be divided by the number of credit hours to get the current GPA – i.e. 90.99/30 = 3.033.  The student has a GPA of 3.033.  In other words, the Canadian university considers this student to be a “B” student.

One important hint to students wishing to do well and be successful in obtaining a Canadian degree: do not take credit for some of the courses you did well in your home country.  For example, some students have already done well in subjects like Statistics or Biology in their home countries.  These students then sometimes ask to get these courses recognized, so that they don’t have to take Statistics or Biology again… BUT they should take those courses again for two very good reasons:

  1. Doing the courses in English at a Canadian university will help build the student’s English vocabulary in those subjects.
  2. The student will likely do very well in these courses… which will HELP his or her GPA.

I hope the process of applying to a Canadian university is now a little easier and makes more sense.  As well, I hope you can use this information to increase your GPA and get a Canadian university degree!

Improve the processing time of your Royal Roads University application

It is very important for students to submit a complete application form including all of the required supporting documents.  Applications for undergraduate applicants to the International Study Centre (ISC) at Royal Roads University can be reviewed within 2 working days and Master’s applications can be replied to within 3 weeks of submission, provided the applications are complete.

At Royal Roads University, the Master of Global Management (MGM) degree program delivers a graduate level international business education that prepares students to develop strong managerial and entrepreneurial skills.  Successful completion of the Master of Global Management degree could potentially lead to career opportunities in transnational corporations, international marketing, social entrepreneurship, etc. 

For the MGM degree program, students must submit the following documents along with the standard application requirements:

Two Letters of Reference

One reference letter should be based on work/life experience and the other based on either academic performance or community service. However, two work-related references are acceptable in certain cases.

The reference letters should confirm that an applicant is a suitable candidate for the MGM program. The writer(s) should articulate why s/he feels the applicant will succeed in such a program, whether s/he feels it will benefit the applicant (and why), the applicant’s ability to work with others (in teams) and any other information about the applicant which could identify them as a good fit for the program. The context in which the referee has come to know the applicant should also be mentioned. Length and level of detail in the letters may vary; there is no set standard.

Statement of Intent

(500 words – Single spaced, double space between paragraphs and 12 font size)

Applicants are asked to provide an essay that responds to the following two questions:

  • At this point in your career describe what you perceive as your greatest strength and greatest weakness as an international business person?
  • What could the Master of Global Management degree program do to help you improve on your weakness?

Detailed Resume

The resume should provide a detailed professional profile of the applicant. RRU is interested in knowing where an applicant has worked, for how long, and what s/he was responsible for in the positions held. Provide as much information as possible. Your resume should include the following:

  • Education: List all post-secondary education, degrees, diplomas, and certificates you have achieved.
  • Work Experience: Please include name of organization, length of service and a brief description of duties.
  • Training and Professional Development: List career related training and professional development programs completed with the past five years. Include the source of training, and the duration and year completed. List other training and personal development programs not already identified.
  • Voluntary/Unpaid Work Experience: List and describe any voluntary/unpaid post-secondary employment and/or community service experience. Please include name of organization, length of service and a brief description of duties.
  • Information Technology Training and Experience: Briefly describe your level of training and experience in the use of information technology including computers, software and telecommunications networks as tools for business, education, teaching and personal use.
  • Professional Memberships/Affiliations: List memberships and positions you hold/have held in professional associations, service clubs, community/volunteer sector.
  • Other Relevant Information

Ensuring that your application for MGM includes the above listed documents will definitely help to speed up the process of reviewing your application.

Get information on how to apply for accelerated bachelor’s programs at Royal Roads University ISC.