Starting university in a new country can be pretty scary! Before my arrival in Halifax, I was a mess of nerves- worried about how I would make friends, what classes would be like, and how to get comfortable in the city. Lucky for me, I attended International Student Orientation! I found myself surrounded by other international students and there was so much to learn. Lots of the great tips that got me through my first year came from the information at International Orientation. Here are 7 reasons to attend International Student Orientation!
International Student Orientation is a short introductory period held each fall and winter before classes begin. During this time, there are a variety of seminars and resources available to you to help prepare yourself for the school year. Orientation is mandatory for international students, and for good reason! Missing out on all of the cool stuff going on at the time would really be a waste. Let’s get started!
1. Societies and clubs
Many of Dal’s societies will make an appearance at orientation in hopes of gaining a few new members. You’ll have the chance to learn more about what the Dalhousie social scene is like. This is also a really great opportunity to get a head start at making friends and building your resume.
2. It’s a great way to meet other international students
Similarly to the last point, orientation is an awesome way to get to know your peers. At orientation, there will be socializing events that encourage you and other international students to get talking, exchange contact information, and become friends. This was one of my favorite things about international orientation. I went on to attend class and spend increasingly more time with some of the people I met during these events. It was really reassuring to know a few people in my program before beginning classes!
3. There’s lots of info about school resources
You’ll get the inside scoop on all of the programs Dal offers to support you through your university career. You’ll want to know things like how/when to visit the doctor, how health insurance works, where to go to see an academic advisor, and what the Writing Centre does! Soon people will be asking you about where to get support.
4. Good academic advice
Aside from the plain old school resources, a few of the seminars touch on tips to help you to become a good student. This involves information on forming good study habits and what to expect from the academic system in Canada, for example.
5. It helps you with the odds and ends of moving
When you’re an international student moving to a new country, there are quite a few logistical steps to take before you’re settled. You might need a new phone plan, need to set up a bank account, and figure out the bus system. Luckily, Dal sets up stations during International Student Orientation for all of these things and many more! It’s so much easier to take care of this stuff in one place, surrounded by people who are in a similar situation as you. There will be advisors nearby who have years of experience in helping new international students adjust to the move to Canada.
Register for a bank account set-up session during International Orientation at this link.
6. The Campus Tour
What better way to get to know your new school than a tour led by current or former students and faculty? Tours are scheduled during International Student Orientation to show you around Studley Campus. You’ll be shown the different buildings where lectures are held, the various residences, as well as the library and where various student services are located.
7. Information about visas
There is one item that should be #1 on your packing list. Without a valid and updated visa, you may not even be allowed in Canada. This is why International Student Orientation gives you a “Visa Check-in.” During this time, you’ll provide your visa information to an immigration advisor and make sure that your status as a student in Canada is ensured. You will also discuss what regulations you must follow as a student in Canada to make sure your study permit stays valid. This is very important—make sure not to miss it! You’ll need to bring your passport and study permit.
Don’t miss these few action-packed days! They can make the difference between being unprepared for the start of your semester and excelling. It will prepare you for anything your university experience can throw at you. You can register and find the full schedule for all the events I mentioned here on the International Centre’s website. Get ’em, tiger!
If you want to get started before International Student Orientation, check out the Pre-arrival Webinars, featuring yours truly! In the webinars, we cover topics like living in Halifax, arrival information, and the ever-important visa. Click here to watch.
Catalina is from the Bahamas and loves meeting other international students!