5 Common Challenges for International Students in The GTA (Greater Toronto Area)

Challenges + Helpful and Informative Guidance = You got this! 

Culture Shock

In truth, culture shock can happen anytime and anywhere. This means you are experiencing something new and different, and you may feel excited, uncomfortable, or even a bit nervous about it. New environments are never easy to adjust to at first. Here some tips on overcoming a culture shock.

  1. Ask questions: classmates, roommates, teachers, friends, etc. There will always be someone willing to help
  2. Experience it for yourself and know that sometimes it will take time to adjust
  3. Be open-minded and try to see it from a more positive point of view
  4. Take a look at your resources and do your research: visit your college/university’s international student departments, International student-focused website (like this one), so much more. 

Public Transportation

Do you plan on using public transportation? Here’s what you need to know. Public transportation transit companies will vary from area to area. Here’s some factual information that can help you prepare for what to expect.  

In most student-populated areas in the GTA, a Presto card can be used almost anywhere to pay for your bus, train, or streetcar fare. Using their easy-to-use mobile app, you can purchase monthly passes (prices vary depending on the transit company), or you can put a certain amount of money onto your card. Tap on any Presto machine and enjoy the ride!

To find travel routes, you can download Google Maps and find the correct times and which buses, trains, subways, or streetcars you need to take to reach your destination. 

Socializing: Making new friends.

Making new friends in a new country can be super exciting but sometimes a bit daunting. How will you know where to look to meet people who have the same interest as you. Ultimately, we’re not just looking to socialize. We are also looking to build quality friendships and make meaningful connections. Having a great group of friends can surely help you get through your college/university experience. Here are some tips for you!

  • Join a club: luckily, almost all universities/colleges have student clubs, in which students with a similar interest form a club to meet other students with similar interests. 
  • Join virtual campus events: In a non-Covid world. Campus events and parties would have been a perfect way to meet new people. But because of the current pandemic, many campuses have moved their events online. We suggest visiting your college council’s websites for details on events they might be hosting.
  • Social media: What many people tend to forget is the word social in “social media.” Social media was always meant to be used as a vessel for interacting with new people who share similar interests with you. Don’t be shy. Message new people and introduce yourself! You can also find out if your classmates have social media or even ask them if they would like to create a group chat with you. 

Food Culture 

Food plays a vital role in any culture. For Filipinos, food brings family and friends together, and it is a crucial part of our identity. For International students, food connects us back to home, and it is a reminder of our upbringing. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges we face as international students is a lack of familiar food culture. In the GTA, there is a lot of diversity food-wise. Once you have lived here for some time, you will notice that some areas are very culture-specific, and you can often find foods that remind you of your family’s cooking. Also, did you know that most major supermarket chains have an international foods section! You may not be able to find everything, but you’ll find just enough to brighten your day.

Housing and Accommodations

It can often be difficult finding housing and accommodations for international students. Here are some tips. The best thing to do is start looking early because many students will be looking as well. Also, searching early will help you get a sense of what living conditions you want and what your budget is for monthly rent. For example, do you want to rent, sublet, have roommates, etc.? You also need to find out what documents you’ll need to prepare, such as pay stubs, credit report, proof of enrollment, etc.

Additionally, try looking for housing near your school, any grocery store, and transportation. Sources that can help you find students housing in Canada are 1.) Your college/ university probably offers assistance in finding housing 2.) On-campus housing 3.) Kijiji 4.) Social media groups 5.) Places4student.com. 

See our video below

Sources: Challenges for International Students, Presto, Housing and Accommodations  

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