Maple Syrup and the Sugar Bush


It’s sweet, it’s sticky, and it’s quintessentially Canadian. Ever wonder how maple syrup is made?

Last month, a few of our international and exchange students had the chance to find out at London’s very own Sugar Bush.

While not as famous as Quebec, Southwestern Ontario is home to multiple woodlots who, every spring, begin the process of tapping the sweet sap of maple trees to make sugar. Once the weather begins to warm up after the winter between -5 degrees Celsius at night to +5 degrees in the day, the farmers begin drilling small holes or tapping into the trees to extract the sweet, watery sap.

They attach a spigot to draw out the sap and collect it into large tanks. They then boil it and process the sap to produce maple syrup! All this happens in a short two weeks to make 80% of the year’s syrup harvest.

For those of you who weren’t able to join us, we are happy to share an awesome video of our recent trip to the Kinsmen Sugar Bush, created by our IESC Volunteer Videographer Syeed Hasan- Thanks Syeed!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Income Taxes in Canada- What you Need to Know


Hello, everyone! With the year coming to an end and exams taking up most of your time, the last thing you probably want to be thinking about is your taxes. Unfortunately, it’s tax season in Canada. The tax year runs from January 1 to December 31 and the official deadline to submit your tax return is April 31st. To make it easier for you to file your taxes, we’ve included a few answers to some common questions!

How does the Canadian Tax System work?

Canadian taxes can be grouped into three types: income and property tax, goods and service taxes, and taxes on specialty items (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol, etc.). These taxes are paid to the government so that the government can provide services (e.g. housing, healthcare, etc.) to the people living within it.

Who pays income taxes?

Income taxes are determined based on your residency status for tax purposes, which may be different from your immigration status in Canada. Residency status is based on your residential ties to Canada. So, Canadian residents must pay taxes on all their world income, earned both in and out of the country. Anyone who earns an income in Canada must file income taxes. For more information on determining your residency status, visit:

What about international students?

As an international student, you must file an income tax return if you receive any income (from working, scholarships, research grants, investments, etc.), you want to claim a refund, and if you want tax benefits from the Canadian government (e.g. Ontario Trillium Benefit, Child Tax Benefit, Harmonized Sales Tax Reimbursement).

If you don’t have an income, it is still recommended that you complete a tax return because you might qualify for some tax credits (a refund of money or carrying forward your tuition credits)!

What do you need to file a tax return?

You will need either a Social Insurance Number (SIN) or Individual Tax Number (ITN).

You may also want to save up or look for a few other documents. In February, you might have received several tax documents (called T-slips) by mail (e.g., T4, T4A, T2202A, T5, donation receipts, etc.). If you don’t remember, not to worry! You can find your T2202A and your T4A for your scholarship on your Student Centre account ( under “Tax Receipts.” If you worked at Western or you were a Research Assistant (RA), your T4 and/or T4A would have been mailed to your home address. If you did not receive it, contact the Human Resource department.

You might also need a few other receipts, too. Some examples of receipts to keep are rent receipts, bus receipts, health care expenses (including your UHIP and USC/SOGS health and dental plans), children’s activities expenses. You might need other receipts as well!

Make sure to either photocopy or scan copies of all your receipts, Income Tax Submissions, and Notices of Assessment! It’s important to keep copies for a minimum of six years.

What if I need more information?

Check out these helpful websites:

IESC’s Income Tax Information:

The Canadian Government’s Video Series on Taxes:

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (Local Income Tax Help Clinics):

More information on SINs:

As always, you can also stop by the IESC for a bit of help and guidance if you’re unsure where to go on your own. Happy studying!

Networking your way to Success!

networkingNot all job opportunities can be found on job boards or in newspapers. In fact, the majority of positions are never posted anywhere, which can make finding a job a little more complicated – especially if you don’t have the right connections!. Luckily for you, the upcoming Student 2 Business Conference hosted by the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), is a unique event where students can connect directly with local employers and find out more about job opportunities in the city.

With representatives from over 250 local businesses, the conference is the perfect place to meet some new people and make valuable connections! Unlike job fairs where you might spend time visiting specific company information booths – the Student 2 Business conference is all about NETWORKING. Instead of booths, the conference hall is set up as a meet-and-greet event, meaning that company representatives stand around the room and students can chat with them personally about the industry and any upcoming opportunities.

If the idea of approaching a complete stranger and starting a conversation seems a bit intimidating, read on for some tips and tricks that will help you succeed at networking!

STEP 1: Preparation

Before attending a networking event, be sure to prepare the following:

Your Resume

You won’t necessarily be distributing your resume at a networking event, but it won’t hurt to bring a copy just in case someone asks for it! Even if you don’t need it at the event, having an up-to-date resume or CV will be important in your follow up conversations with employers. For help creating the perfect CV or resume, check out the many great resources at the Student Success Centre.

Business Cards

As a student, you may not have thought of making business cards yet. Business cards are easy to make and very inexpensive (you can print them at home, InPrint in campus, or at office stores like Staples). Having business cards with you at a networking event means being able to do the ever-important “contact exchange” with employers- you offer them your card, and they will return the favour and give you theirs!

At a minimum, your business card should include your name, program, contact information, and LinkedIn information (if you have an account).

Questions (and answers)

You don’t need to prepare a full script, but having a few pre-planned questions can definitely be helpful when it comes to filling those awkward silences that come up in conversation.

  • Research the companies in advance and consider what you want to know about the job, the industry or the work environment. For example:
  • What is your favourite part of the job?
  • What aspects of the job do you think would be most challenging for a new hire?
  • What advice would you give to someone looking to get into this industry?
  • Prepare a responses to the following common questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work at this company or in this industry?
  • What kind of job are you looking for?

An Introduction

Prepare a short introduction that you can confidently communicate when you meet someone new. Your introduction should be brief, professional and contain information that is relevant to the type of job that you’d like to get. Here’s an example:

My name is John Smith and I’m currently in my second year of Engineering at Western. I’m passionate about the environment and am looking to pursue a career in renewable energy. Could you tell me a bit more about your company’s sustainability initiatives?

STEP 2: Entering the Conversation

When you walk into the room (depending on when you walk in), the room might be filled with representatives surrounded by groups of students already engaged in conversation. You might think to yourself, “How on earth do I get into this conversation?”

Confidence is key. Approach the group that you’d like to join and make eye contact with at least one person. Don’t forget to smile! Before you say something, wait for a natural pause in the conversation. When it feels right, smile at the representative, extend a handshake, and introduce yourself. Be sure to acknowledge others as well by saying “nice to meet everyone”. Remember: if you end your introduction with a question, the conversation will flow naturally from there!

STEP 3: Exiting the Conversation

When you’re ready to leave the conversation and move on, politely thank the person for their time and again- extend your hand for a handshake. If you want to stay in touch, be sure to give the person your business card and ask for theirs in return.

STEP 4: Following Up

If you do get someone’s contact information, it is important that you follow up right away. Soon after the event, send them an email thanking them for chatting with you, asking them a question, or requesting more information. Always be polite and professional. If you are unsure about your wording, have a friend look over your emails before you send them.

Good luck to all of our International student job seekers!!

About the Student 2 Business Conference

The S2B conference is an annual conference held at the London Convention Centre. International students are invited to attend a special international student alumni panel during the conference which will feature recent graduates who have successfully navigated the Canadian job search market and found jobs right here in London.  Admission for the S2B Conference is $10  for students and includes free shuttle service from Western’s campus to the London Convention Centre. Click here for more information and to register for this exciting event!

Friends, Family & Fun in February!

Hello-February-Hearts-fb-coverHey everyone! Now that second semester is well underway, we want to welcome all of our new international and exchange students and wish you all the best during this busy midterm season!

Although this time of year can be a bit stressful with papers and exams, it’s also a time where students can take a break from classes and spend time with friends and family.

In case you aren’t familiar with Valentine’s Day, Family Day, Lunar New Year and Reading Week (all holidays coming up this month!), here’s a bit more information about each, plus some ideas for how you can celebrate!

Valentine’s Day – February 14

Valentine’s Day is a holiday about love. Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts (usually in the shape of a heart) or flowers with their special “valentine.” Valentine’s Day can be celebrated with anyone and everyone you love, including friends, family, or a partner/significant other. Most people send little cards with sweet notes like this with small heart-shaped candies to their friends. It’s a great chance to spread a bit of love and show people how much they matter to you.

Family Day – February 16

Family Day in Ontario is relatively new, having only been introduced in 2007. It’s statutory holiday, so don’t expect banks, schools, or government offices to be open. However, grocery stores, shops, and restaurants will all still be open. Ontarians use this holiday to spend time with their friends and family.

In London, the city hosts a series of events for the occasion. There’s free ice-skating at Victoria Park and Storybook Gardens. There’s also a Winter Village for families and young children at the Museum of Archaeology. Added bonus: the YMCA is open and FREE for all!

Lunar New Year- February 19

Also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, this holiday is celebrated around the world, primarily by those from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines. Based on the phases of the moon, Lunar New Year is never on the same day each year, but typically falls somewhere between January 21st and February 20th. Lunar New Year is celebrated with big family gatherings, gift giving, the eating of symbolic foods and display of festive decorations–all focused on bringing good luck for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring.

Every year is also associated with one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, with each animal being represented once every 12 years. This year is the year of the ram (goat). You can figure out which is your Chinese zodiac animal and discover what famous people also share your sign here.

Reading Week – February 16 to 20

This week-long academic break is also known as Spring Break or February Break. It’s a mid-semester holiday from classes for university students and its purpose is to give students a chance to relax and re-charge before the busy-ness of midterms and final exams. The timing varies from university to university, so if you wanted to coordinate with friends from another university, the timing may not align. Many students use Reading Week as an opportunity to travel (Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Niagara Falls, Collingwood etc) or as a chance to catch up on some much-needed rest and relaxation. Whatever you choose to do- just don’t forget that it’s called “Reading Week” for a reason! Remember to fit in at least a bit of studying so that you’ll be ready to take on your midterms and projects after the break!
Valentine’s Day, Family Day, Lunar New Year and Reading Week Events

February 10–15Catch Jersey Boys at Budweiser Gardens 
February 10-21Check out the Print London: With Love Art Exhibit
February 12-14Watch Althouse’s Seussical and bring the kids!
February 14Spend Valentine’s testing your Canadian trivia skills
February 14Enjoy a classic Valentine’s day and take your sweetheart out to a dance
February 14Celebrate and learn more about Chinese New Year at White Oaks Mall
February 16Educate yourself on Radar and its impact on warfare this Family Day
February 16Learn about Canada’s First Nations at the Museum of Archeology
February 16–  Enjoy Family Day at a local recreation centre!
February 21Celebrate Lunar New Year at this year’s Dragon Gala

For a full listing of London events, click here.

Note: The IESC office will be open throughout Reading Week from 9:00 am- 4:00 pm daily.

To all of our IESC family- Happy Valentines Day, Happy Family Day, and Happy Reading Week! Also, for those celebrating- Happy Lunar New Year!!

We hope you enjoy the break and look forward to seeing you again soon!

Your 2014 Holiday Planning Guide

Red door, Christmas letter.

The winter break is almost here, so it’s the perfect time to start planning your holidays. If you are staying in Canada this winter, read on for some ideas about how you can explore your second home. No matter what your budget is, we’re sure you’ll be able to find an activity or adventure that appeals to you! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page for information about on and off-campus events over the holidays as well as important university dates!

Big Spender ($500+ budget)

See French Canada
Francophone regions of Canada are those areas with large concentrations of French-speaking residents. The province of Quebec is one of Canada’s most distinct Francophone regions and is known as the epicenter of French Canada. If you go to northern Quebec, you may even find it difficult to meet others who speak English! If you are feeling adventurous and want to see something completely different- a visit to French Canada is a great idea!

Montreal is a great city full of history, major universities, and great restaurants and nightlife. Montreal is also rich in culture and is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in Canada (some people call it the Paris of Canada!).

How to Get There:
Greyhound Bus: Takes 12 hours; cheapest option; around $150 round-trip
Via Rail: Takes 7 hours (plus layover in Toronto); around $180 round-trip
Drive: Takes about 8 hours if you drive non-stop
Group Travel: with ISX Canada or similar tour companies

What to do:
Visit the Biodome
This building, previously used to host the 1976 summer Olympics, has now been converted into a Biodome with an indoor tropical rainforest and other Canadian climates. You can learn more about biodiversity and the native flora and fauna in Canada.
Jean Talon Market
If you’re interested in local food, this is the place for you. Make sure to go there on an empty stomach, because some of the sausages and gourmet items are too hard to resist! Reminiscent of traditional European markets, the products at the Jean Talon Market are entirely Canadian with maple syrup stands and exotic meats including deer and bison.
Old Montreal and the Notre Dame Basilica
This part of Montreal goes back to its European roots. The historic centre has retained the cobblestone streets and old buildings from when Montreal was first settled. The Basilica is a must-see in this area with colourful stained glass windows and ornate decorations and carvings. With horse-drawn carriage rides and walking tours, it’s a great area to explore. Just be careful, because it is a popular tourist destination; so, food and souvenirs can be expensive!
Visit a Sugar Shack (Cabane à Sucre)
Sugar Shacks are maple syrup farms – a quintessential part of a Canadian culture. In the winter, people pour boiled maple syrup over snow and quickly roll the sticky caramel around a popsicle stick to create a maple lollipop. Sugar Shacks often offer tours of the facilities and show you how they make their maple syrup. They also usually have restaurants serving authentic maple-inspired dished. Sugar cream pies are an absolute must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Go skiing
Only an hour away are the Laurentian mountains. If you have the time and can rent a car, your could spend a day or two on the ski slopes.

What to Eat:
• Perhaps, the most famous Quebecois dish is their poutine! It’s hard to go wrong with this delicious mix of gravy, French fries, and cheese curds. Poutine can be found almost anywhere, but student favourites are Alto’s, La Banquise, and La Belle Province – all three deliver until 4am.
• Montreal is also famous for their bagels and smoked meat. The best bagels are highly disputed, but most people agree it’s either St. Viateur Bagels or Fairmont Bagels. Both of these places are within one block of each other, so you can taste both and decide for yourself! At less than a dollar each, the bagels are usually fresh out of the oven and – even better – available 24/7. As for smoked meat, without a doubt, the best place to go is Schwartz’s on St. Laurent. Delicious!

Getaway ($300+ budget)

See the Falls
One of the seven wonders of the world, Niagara Falls is a must-see natural attruaction if you’re in the area. Not to mention, if you’re 19+, the Niagara region is home to some of the best wineries and jam shops in Canada!.

How to Get There:
Greyhound Bus: 5+ hours (with layover in Toronto); approximately $100 round-trip
Via Rail: 5+ hours (with layover in Toronto); approximately $140 round-trip
Drive: approximately 2 hour drive
Group Travel: with ISX Canada or similar tour companies

What to do:
Explore the Falls
There are lots of ways to see the falls. You can go on a boat and approach the falls from the bottom on the Hornblower, walk behind the falls, or, in the winter- experience the falls via a simulator.
Awaken the animal lover
Niagara Falls is home to a Butterfly Conservatory where you can walk amongst the delicate insects and, if you’re lucky, one might land on you! If insects don’t interest you, perhaps the aviary at Bird Kingdom might be a better option. The birds walk freely around the aviary and you get to explore their natural ecosystem. There’s even a chance for you to feed some of the parakeets.
Arcade Games and Haunted Houses on Clifton Hill
Clifton Hill is filled with tourism attractions. Many of these can be expensive, so choose two or three options and explore the rest on your next visit. If you enjoy arcade games, fun houses, haunted houses, and wax museums, there is endless entertainment on this strip.
• Indoor Waterparks
Escape winter with a visit to an indoor water park! With massive wave pools, giant waterslides, and tons of children running around, these parks are fun for all ages.
• Go on a wine tour
If you are over 19 years old, the Niagara-on-the-Lake area offers some phenomenal tours of Canadian wineries. From the famous ice wine to the sweet Riesling, this area produces some of the finest grapes.

Where to Eat:
• If you want a great view of the falls and don’t mind spending a little more on dinner, try making a reservation at Skylon Tower or one of the hotel restaurants on the Falls (e.g. Hilton, Sheraton, etc.). These restaurants offer amazing views and great pictures of the late night light shows.

Excursion ($100+ budget)

Visit friends in Toronto
A large majority of Western students call Toronto home, so why not take the break and visit friends in their hometown? Often referred to as “Canada’s New York”, Toronto offers the excitement of the big city with endless areas to explore including downtown, Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, Distillery District, and so many more!

How to Get There:
Drive: get a ride with a friend; the drive is about 2 hours
Greyhound: 2 hour bus; $50 round-trip if you buy early
Via Rail: 2 hour trip; approximately $100 round-trip

What to do:
Visit the CN Tower
The CN Tower is a must-see in Toronto. From walking on the glass floor to seeing the city’s horizon from above, it is a popular tourist attraction. If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, make a reservation at the restaurant on the top floor. The dining room rotates and within an hour, you get a full 360 degree view of the city. Included in the price of the meal is a visit to the glass floor and the lift to the top ($75 for the meal and lift vs. $50 for a regular admittance ticket). For daredevils, there’s always the EdgeWalk– get the information and remember to go back and do this adventure in the summer!
St. Lawrence Market
A great indoor food market, St. Lawrence is filled with lots of fresh produce, fish, meat, cheese, and specialty items (like the famous mustard!). Some of the best chefs in the city can be found shopping here at 6 am to get the best products for that night’s dinner service. If you feel like having a more hands-on experience, the market also offers cooking classes upstairs!
Distillery District
Founded in the 1800s as a whisky distillery during prohibition, this old factory area has been converted into a series of galleries, restaurants, and shops. Most of the galleries are free and the shops are among the most unique in the city. One of the best chocolate shops is nestled in the corner of an alleyway – Soma. So, if you decide to go on one of the historic walking tours and need some warming, try a cup of Mayan hot chocolate before heading back outside.
Eaton’s Centre
Eaton’s Centre is the largest mall in Toronto, so as you can imagine, it’s always busy hosting locals and tourists alike. Most of the shops are large brand name stores. If you’re looking for boutiques, try Queen Street West and Bathurst area, but remember that prices do tend to be higher in that area!
Free Concerts at Nathan Phillip Square
Each year on New Year’s Eve, there is a free concert at Nathan Phillip Square at Dundas and Bay streets. You may want to spend the afternoon skating so that you can grab a spot early. The featured artists are usually famous Canadians. Past performers have been Kanaan, Hedley, These Kids Wear Crowns, and Keisha Chante.

Where to Eat:
• Toronto is known as the most multicultural city in the world, so take advantage of it and try some new cuisines!
o Try Nazareth for Ethiopian food (bring friends, because the food is served family style!)
o Pho Saigon for some Vietnamese noodle soup
o Mexican food in Kensington Market
o Chinese food in Chinatown (College and Spadina; some of these places are open until 4am!)
o Korean food at Bloor and Bathurst
o Italian food on College Street or St.Clair

Saving up (less than $100)

If you’re not looking to travel outside of London or just want to get to know the city better, here are some ideas for what you can do this winter break:

Outdoor Skating Rinks (here)
Ice skating is a favourite Canadian winter activity, so you’ll finding skating rinks around the city. Grab a friend and head to Victoria Park downtown where you can rent skates for only $5!
Explore Wortley Village (here)
Grab a cup of coffee and relax with a book in some of the cozy cafes in Wortley Village
Snow Tubing or Skiing at Boler Mountain (here)
A short bus-ride away from downtown London, this little ski hill is perfect for beginners. They also have tobogganing and snow tubing if you want to start with an easier winter sport!
Have a snowball fight or build a snowman
Put on your best waterproof mittens or gloves and get outside for some fun and exercise! Work as a team and build a snowman, or get competitive and have a snowball fight with friends!
Play inside (here or here)
Get in from the cold and spend the day indoors! Fleetway offers 5 and 10 pin bowling, a rock climbing wall, mini-golf, and pool tables so there is something there for everyone! With 2 locations in London, you can also bowl, play pool, and even try out Laser Tag at Palasad.
See a movie or live show
Lots of new releases hit theatres during the holidays. Grab a bag of popcorn and check out the new seats at Silvercity Masonville. If you are more interested in live theatre, documentaries and independent films, also check out Palace Theatre and Grand Theatre for some unique options!

On Campus Events

IESC’s Global Café
Dates: November 27, December 4, December 11
When & Where: 3-5pm, IGAB Atrium
Check your e-mail and follow IESC on Facebook for updates about our annual gingerbread house event at Global Café!

Holiday Networking Tea @ IESC
Date: December 18, 2014
When & Where: 1-2 pm, IESC (2nd Floor IGAB)
Join us for an informal holiday gathering complete with festive treats, hot chocolate, coffee/tea & holiday music. This will be a great opportunity to connect with others & make plans for the holidays!

Off- Campus Events

The Festival of Trees
Date: November 26- December 6, 2014
When & Where: 8:00 am- 6:00 pm, Covent Garden Market, 130 King St.
For more information click here.

Lighting of the Lights @ Victoria Park
Date: November 28, 2014
When & Where: Victoria Park (Downtown), 6:15pm- 7:15pm
For more information click here.

Old World Christmas Market
Date: November 30, 2014
When & Where: 11:00 AM – 5:00 pm., Bellamere Winery 1260 Gainsborough Road
For more information click here.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
Date: December 1, 2014
When & Where: 8:15 pm, Richmond St. railway crossing (near Molly Blooms)
For more information click here.

35th Christmas Craft Festival
Date: December 4-7, 2014
When & Where: Hours vary. Western Fair District – Progress Building (900 King St)
Admission: $6
For more information click here.

London Devilettes vs. Team China (Olympic Team)
Date: December 12, 2014
When & Where: 7:00 pm, Western Fair Sports Complex
Admission: $3.00

Important Dates
December 3: Fall/Winter Term classes end.
December 4-5: Study Days.
December 5 – 17: Mid-year examination period.
December 17: Hanukkah begins
December 18: First term ends. Residences close.
December 25: Christmas Day
December 26: Boxing Day
December 31: New Years Eve
January 1: New Years Day
January 5: Classes resume (second semester begins).

Most Canadian Banks will be closed on December 25, 26 and January 1.
TD Bank will be closed on December 25 and January 1.

Regardless of what you’re doing this holiday season, remember to be safe and have fun! If you have any questions, please contact us anytime at From all of us at IESC- we wish you the very best for the holiday season and for the year ahead!

Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Halloween In Canada


Happy Halloween, blog readers!

For those of you who have never experienced this spooky holiday, we have compiled a list of the Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Halloween in Canada! Have other ideas? Comment below & share them with us!

1. Host or go to Halloween Party

Weather you decide to host your own party or go to a friend’s house or downtown- the expectations are the same. Costumes, candy, and plenty of scary decorations (think bats, spider webs, tombstones, and skeletons!). Costume contests are common as well, so weather your costume is funny, scary, simply disgusting- be sure to get as creative as possible!

2. Watch a scary movie

Get together with friends and get into the Halloween mood with some scary movies! Some must-see movies include Hocus Pocus, Halloween, Sixth Sense, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Shining – anything that will give you chills down your spine!

3. Give candy out to Trick-Or-Treaters

Although many university-aged students still participate in the fun of Halloween- this holiday is actually most popular among young children in Canada. Elementary-school kids dress up in costumes and go door-to-door with pails or pillowcases, greeting homeowners with the phrase “Trick or Treat?!” The person at the door then usually gives a “treat” (candy) to each child to avoid being tricked. If you don’t want children knocking at your door, turn off your front-door lights between about 5- 9 p.m. If you still get unwanted visitors- consider putting up a sign that says “no candy” (Note: Giving out candy is not required, but it is expected and appreciated by neighbourhood parents! Sometimes children will even go door-to-door inside their own apartment building).

4. Carve pumpkins

A Jack-o-lantern is perhaps the most common decoration you’ll see at Halloween. Jack-o-lanterns are hallowed out pumpkins with faces or images carved into them. A candle is placed inside the pumpkins and the light shines out of the holes, displaying the image. If you want to make Jack-o-lantern, you can find pumpkins at the grocery store for $5 to $10 and then get templates online here. Tip: Be sure to save the pumpkin seeds for an easy, healthy snack! Click here for a recipe!

5. Stock your shelves with candy

For those of you who don’t want to dress-up but still have a sweet tooth- you can always focus your attention on the day AFTER Halloween when all of your favourite candy will be on sale! Just don’t eat it all at once or you’ll end up with a stomach ache and maybe a few dental issues!

BONUS: Don’t forget about IESC’s Halloween Party at Global Café on Thursday! We’ll have coffee and tea as usual, plus a photo booth, pumpkins, and plenty of Halloween Treats to share! Join us in the IGAB Atrium from 3-5pm— everyone is welcome and costumes are encouraged!

For more information about the history of Halloween in Canada, visit

Diwali: The Festival of Lights


Diwali, also known as “the festival of lights” is one of the most-celebrated Hindu festivals of the year. In India, this holiday is celebrated by not only those of the Hindu faith, but also by others including Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh. Diwali celebrations symbolize the triumph of light over dark and the holiday gets its name from the rows (avail) of clay lamps (diya/deepa) that people light outside their homes during this time. The lights shining during Diwali are meant to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness.

Celebrated in October or November each year (October 23rd this year!), Diwali originated as the harvest festival marking the last harvest before winter. People would seek the divine blessing of Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth) for the past harvest and pray for success in the upcoming one. Today, this practice still continues as many families and businesses regard Diwali as the first day of the new financial year.

Diwali lasts four days and each day has its own tale, legend, and myth. The first day is Naraka Chaturdasi and marks the triumph of Lord Krishna, the God of love and joy, over the demon Naraka, On this day, housewives spring clean the home and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to bring good luck and fortune.

The second day, Amavasya, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. It also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe, who vanquished the tyrant Bali and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. To prepare for the arrival of Bali, people decorate their homes with clay lamps and create patterns of colored powders or sands on the floor called rangoli.

On the third day, Kartika Shudda Padyami, Bali steps out of hell to rule the earth with light, love, and wisdom. This is the main day of the festival when families gather together for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to the Goddess Lakshmi followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities. This is the first day of the New Year when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the new season. The illumination of lights and fireworks symbolize the obeisance to the heavens for health, wealth, knowledge, peace, and prosperity. According to some, the sound of fire-crackers also represents the joy of the people on earth, making the gods aware of their celebrations.

The last day, Yama Dvitiya or Bhai Dooj, is a celebration of the affection and warmth between brother and sister. On this day, sisters apply Tilak on the forehead on their brothers. They give gifts and pray for the longevity of their brothers and in return, brothers pledge to keep their sisters safe. Traditionally, married sisters invite their brothers into their homes to share in a lavish meal.

If you are interested in celebrating Diwali in London, you can stop by the Hindu Cultural Centre in London or participate in Srishti Diwali Dhamaka celebration on November 1st (tickets can be purchased online in advance).

For those celebrating, we wish you a Happy Diwali – may you relish in the light, reflect on the past year and look with hope to the new one!

Thanksgiving In Canada: History and Traditions


Thanksgiving is a traditional Canadian holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October. This holiday is celebrated throughout Canada as a statutory holiday (or optional holiday in some provinces).

For most people, Thanksgiving is spent amongst family and friends enjoying a giant meal of turkey, pies, and other fall foods. But how did this humble holiday begin?

In Canada, its exact origins are unknown. Some people trace it back to 1578 with explorer Martin Frobisher who held Thanksgiving celebrations to give thanks for surviving the long journey from England to Canada. Others accredit this holiday to French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, who, in the 17th century, held the holiday to celebrate a successful harvest with a feast for both his people and the local First Nations peoples.

Regardless of its origins, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all of the things in our life that we should be grateful for including our health, our family, our friends, our education, and so much more!

Now, some of you may be wondering why Canadian Thanksgiving is a month earlier than its American counterpart. Well, Canada is geographically further north than the US, so our harvest season ends much earlier. Since our Thanksgiving is more about giving thanks for the harvest season rather than marking the arrival of the pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate it in October.

Both Americans and Canadians alike enjoy very large meals for Thanksgiving. The traditional Thanksgiving meal revolves around turkey, stuffing, and baked pies (apple and pumpkin tend to be the most common). Sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables fill the rest of the table.

On Thanksgiving Monday, many people have the day off work and all schools are closed. Many stores (including Beer Stores & LCBO stores), government offices, banks, libraries, malls, businesses and organizations are also closed. Some convenience stores and pharmacies may remain open but not many.

Want to celebrate Thanksgiving but you’re not sure what to do? If you’re in London for the long weekend, plan meet up with friends and roast a chicken (or a turkey if you have enough people to eat it!). Usually, students from farther provinces (think British Columbia, the Prairies, and the Maritimes) will stay over the weekend and host a Thanksgiving dinner amongst friends. Many restaurants also feature Thanksgiving-themed menus at this time of year so if you’re not the best cook- eating out might be a better option! If you have a ticket, be sure join IESC for our annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday!

If you just want to enjoy the fall weather and bake some fresh pies, you can always visit a farm to pick some fresh apples and pumpkins. Although most of these farms a little removed from the city (this one  comes highly recommended)- It could be a nice mini day trip to take with a few friends if one of you has access to a car.

Lastly, if the cold weather is starting to wear you down, you could just curl up with a cup of hot apple cider (apple juice with a hint of cinnamon works just as well if you can’t find cider) and watch movies at home.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone and thank you for your readership!🙂

Tips for Studying In Canada


Every country has different school systems and it can be challenging adjusting to an entirely new teaching and learning environment. To help you on your journey at Western, we have compiled a short list of tips to help you navigate the Canadian system.

  1. There are a lot of tests and evaluations in Canada.

I remember when I went to study abroad in France and I was shocked that there was typically only one or two major assignments that made up your mark.

In Canada, students can expect at least one or two midterms worth anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of your mark and then a final exam making up the remainder. However, most classes, especially at Western, have multiple exams and evaluations (e.g. papers, essays, assignments, quizzes, etc.). This means that most students are constantly studying for something. It might be a bit overwhelming at first, but you can rest easy knowing that your mark is based on more than a single good or bad day.

Advice: Keep up with your work and review the material every day after class to make sure you understand it. Make sure you get help as soon as you don’t understand. Most teaching assistants (TAs) and fellow students are more than willing to help and professors typically offer office hours to discuss the course material with students.

  1. It’s a balancing act.

Canadians emphasize a balanced lifestyle. They put a huge emphasis on being a well-rounded, multi-faceted human being. What does that mean? It means that you’re more than a student. In the Canadian job market after graduation, employers want to see that students explored new things, were challenged by unique opportunities, and became actively involved in their school community.

It’s tough to balance both extracurricular activities and schoolwork, but it’s important. Unlike many other universities, Canadian universities pride themselves on offering great culture, plenty of activities, and a vibrant student life outside of academia.

Advice: Get involved. Join clubs (you can still sign up if you missed clubs week here!) and intramural sports! Volunteer within the London community or on-campus. Stop by the IESC and see what else is out there!

  1. Mental health is important.

While this may seem like a lot of information and little overwhelming, your health comes first.

Advice: Relax. Take some time off. Go to the gym. Come by the IESC to just chat and hang out. Remember this is about making a memorable experience and exploring a new culture, so take the time to just enjoy your time abroad. It’s okay. There are people here to help.

If you are having trouble adjusting to academic life in Canada, please reach out and make an appointment with a member of our IESC staff. We can give you some advice and refer you to appropriate campus resources if neccessary.

As always, we are here to help!

IESC’s New Home!


As many of you already know, the IESC has been busy this term- not only with the arrival of new students, but also settling into to our new home in the International & Graduate Affairs Building! Upper year students might recognize our new building as the former location of the Ivey Business School (or Lawrence National Centre, to be precise).

Western International, including not only IESC but also the Office of the Vice-Provost (International), International Learning, Pathway Admissions and International Liason, Africa Institute, and Western Heads East, take up the entire second floor in the International & Graduate Affairs Building (IGAB for short!).

With all of Western’s international resources and services under one roof, our new space is the go-to place for all things “international” on campus. Whether you’re looking to explore opportunities abroad or find a home far away from your own, all of the resources you need can be found here. If our friendly and welcoming staff members are unable to help for any reason, we know just who to refer you to on campus and can point you in the right direction for more information and advice.

The move has been a lot of work, but with more than 3,200 international students at Western and a growing abundance of global and intercultural opportunities, the new space was much needed.

Although the IGAB is new to us, the history of the building stretches back almost three decades. The building was originally the National Centre for Management Research and Development (“NCMRD”), dedicated to the Richard Ivey School of Business back in 1986. In 2001, Ivey alumnus, Jack Lawrence, donated $3.7 million to the Ivey Business School for much-needed expansion of their building. They added a third floor with several study spaces and offices and renamed the building the Ivey Lawrence National Centre. Eventually, Ivey’s capacity just got too large and a new building was constructed across the street near Elborn College. After being un-occupied for some time, it was decided that the Lawrence National Centre would be the perfect place to accommodate the growing number of International and Exchange students at Western and the growing need for Graduate program space. This fall, the International and Graduate Affairs Building was born!

Our new space features a friendly reception area, numerous staff offices, and a warm and inviting open space where students can connect with resources, programs, and, most importantly, their peers! Our new area also features a wellness room, thesis and presentation rooms, and flexible event space to host student events and other gatherings.

If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to stop by and check out our new home! Afterall- it’s your new home as well🙂


Long weekends in Canada


Ah, the long weekend. There is nothing like excitement of knowing that you have a glorious three-day weekend to look forward to.

In Canada, approximately one day per month, most workers can look forward to a paid day off work. Those who are required to work on holidays enjoy extra bonus-pay (time and half) for working on these holidays.

Aside from widely-known celebrations such as Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, Canadians also get to look forward to some uniquely Canadian breaks from work.

For most Canadians, long weekends take on a special meaning in the summer. they are an opportunity to finally enjoy the warmer weather and get outside! Starting with the first long weeekend in May (Victoria Day), followed by Canada Day in July, the Civic holiday in August, and Labour day in September- these long weekends are something to look forward to after the long, cold, winters! Many people treat the extra day off as an extension of the weekend and use the holiday to run errands, go on day trips, or relax at home, while others take the weekend to escape to cottage country.

“Cottage culture” is uniquely Canadian, probably due to the extensive amount of nature and land surrounding urban areas across the country.

So what is “Cottage Culture” exactly?

Many Canadians own very simple cabins or cottages, usually up North, in the woods close to a lake or pond. Cottages are usually older, have very few modern amenities (think no internet, T.V., or phone), and are in remote locations, hours away from the city. Some don’t even have modern plumbing!

Now, you may be wondering, “Why on earth do people go to the middle of nowhere with no Wi-Fi and, occasionally no toilet?” The answer is: To escape the hustle and bustle of the city and surround themselves with the plentiful nature that Canada has to offer.

Instead of hiding away in a room, playing video games and watching YouTube videos, people go for hikes through mountenous paths, splash and play in the lake, and canoe or kayak across the pond to visit neighbours. Cottage-goers embrace the bugs and the dirt. They spend the majority of the day outdoors, basking in the sun. They fire up the barbecue for burgers and hot dogs, then build fires and make s’mores (delicious graham cracker cookie sandwiches filled with fire-roasted marshmallows and chocolate).

A weekend up at the cottage is synonymous with long days on the beach ending with a campfire and, maybe, if you’re of age, an icy-cold beverage. It’s a chance to get back to nature and spend time with your loved ones away from the distractions of daily life (and daily technology).

But, what can you do on the long weekend if you don’t have a cottage?

  • Rent a cottage! Why not gather your friends and rent a cottage somewhere? PROS: you could experience what cottage culture is all about and it can be pretty inexpensive if a friend’s family owns a cottage already or if you have a lot of people (from 8 to 10) splitting on the costs. CONS: You will probably need a car to get to the cottage and cottage rentals can get expensive.
  • Spend the day at the beach! One hour away from London, you can find Grand Bend – a wide sandy beach surrounded by cottages and little shops. You can get a taste of cottage country and cottage life without having to make the long-drive and without paying for an overnight stay.
  • Check out a local festival! Many of food, live music, and special interest festivals are hosting during long weekends- both in and outside of the city. Visit the Tourism London website for details about upcoming events and attractions!
  • Release your inner child at East Park, London’s amusement park! Open every long weekend this summer, East Park has mini golf, a driving range, arcade games, go karting, and rock climbing.

Happy Long Weekend Everyone!

P.S. Are you doing anything this long weekend? If so, share with us below!


Learn a Little about London!

London, Ontario is home to over 30 000 students each year, but how much do you know about the forest city? For all of those thirsting for knowledge about their second (or maybe, first!) home, here’s a brief little history.

London, Ontario is often confused with the famous UK capital, and for good reason! Originally, the current location of London was selected as the site of the future capital of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) in 1793. It wasn’t until over 30 years later that London was founded, but not as the capital city that was previously envisioned.

London was founded as the administrative seat for the London District after York (now Toronto) won the title of capital. Once the Old Court House (which can still be seen downtown!) was built, government officials followed by merchants and hotelkeepers swarmed to the village.

Over the next decade, London began to grow. The Covent Garden Market was established, and merchants, like John Labatt and Thomas Carling set up permanent brick shops and manufacturing plants.

Then, disaster struck. A fire destroyed the city centre in 1844 to 1845. But, London quickly bounced back and took the opportunity to rebuild in a more elegant fashion, resulting in beautiful buildings, like St. Paul’s Cathedral.

London continued to prosper. A railway built through the city and a Civil War in 1860 meant more business and more money came to London. This new affluence led to the building of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Huron College, and Western University.

As time progressed, the town expanded into the suburbs and more and more businesses came to the downtown core. Nowadays, London is a regional centre of health care and education and hosts a variety of musical and artistic exhibits and festivals. There’s always something going on and tons to explore!

For more history, click here!

Top 10 Things You May Not Know About the Forest City

1. London is affectionately known as the “Forest City” because of its many parks and green spaces. The city features over 200 parks, including the 140-hectare Springbank Park, skateboarding parks, and many off-leash dog areas. There are tons of spaces for walking, running, biking, or just tanning and enjoying the weather!

2. London is home to some of the largest festivals in North America! The London Rib-Fest on Civic Holiday Weekend (August 1st weekend) is the second largest barbecue rib festival in North America and Sunfest (usually held in the second weekend in July), a World music festival, is the second biggest in Canada after Toronto’s Caribana.

3. “The Notebook” movie stars, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, along with scientist and environmental activist, David Suzuki, Olympic figure skaters, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and hockey player, Eric Lindros, all hail from London! Rumor has it that McAdams was spotted skating in Victoria Park just last year!

4. There are still some heritage-rich, Victorian-era homes for rent in London! You could live in one of the founding homes of London for the year as many of them go up for rent in September! If you want to visit the oldest home in London, you’ll be happy to know that it’s open to the public! Take a tour through Eldon House and have tea in the garden!

5. You can transport yourself back in time to the 1800s with a visit to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village. You can visit this historic site throughout the year for only $7 admission.

6. Booming businesses, such as the Labatt and Carling breweries, London Life Insurance Company, Imperial Oil, and Libro Financial Group, were all founded in London and still maintain large offices – perfect for students looking for internship opportunities or summer jobs!

7. Most of the roads in London are named after streets, cities, and buildings in London, UK as well as the names of some of the important government officials who helped found the city. It’s no wonder people get the two cities mixed up!

8. London is the birthplace of a phenomenon known as “squirrel luck.” To learn more about why one London man is convinced that a black squirrel helped him win the lottery, click here. You can even listen to the official The Black Squirrels Of London song online!

9. Covent Garden Market offers fresh, local, and artisanal products 7-days a week in their historic building all-year round. This is a great place to explore and try some local food while admiring the original Victorian architecture.

10. If you’re tired of the Western Bubble and Richmond Row, Wortley Village (just take bus 4 from downtown) offers a little escape back to the 19th century. With few students and an eclectic array of cafés and shops, London’s Old South neighbourhood offers a little recluse away from the world to study, chat with friends, or just enjoy a cup of coffee and relax.

Photo credit:

We Love LISTS! A Student’s Guide to Surviving Exams


Exam season can be a very busy and stressful time of year. To help you get through it, IESC’s amazing blog volunteers have compiled four very important lists to help you stay focused and healthy until the end of the month.

List #1: Study Tips
1. Clean & organize your study space: A clean study space can give you a fresh start and a sense of mental clarity. Putting away distractions (phones, magazines, etc.) can also help you stay on track!
2. Avoid too much TV: You may be tempted to take a TV break, but you’ll be better off listening to music, reading a magazine or book or chatting with a friend. This is because instead of refreshing your mind, TV tends to dull your senses.
3. Take short breaks regularly: Researchers have found that 45 minutes is the optimal time study period for maximum retention of information. Try to study for 45 minutes and take a 15 minute break before continuing.
4. Use diagrams and charts: Visual representations can boost your ability to memorize and retain information: flow charts, word-maps, pictures, and mnemonics (rhymes), can be very helpful and effective for memorization.
5. Use a timer: Plan your study time carefully and don’t let distractions like phone calls, Facebook, or friends get in the way. Set a timer for as little as 15 minutes and commit to not checking your phone, email or Facebook until the timer goes off. Schedule time for coffee breaks and social gatherings, but stay focused the rest of the time.
6. Quiz your friends: Testing a classmate’s knowledge is a great way to assess your own understanding of the material. Being quizzed by others is effective as well. Explaining a concept to another person or having it explained to you in new terms can help you solidify your knowledge and memorize information much faster.
7. For more information and study tips, visit SDC’s Learning Skills Services website


List #2: Tips for Reducing Stress & Staying Healthy
1. Be active when you study: Take mini-activity breaks to get out of your seat. Things like stretching & yoga will help you relax and restore blood flow to your muscles. If you can, stand or walk while you read- this will help you stay alert and minimize discomfort from sitting too long.
2. Feed & hydrate your brain: Your brain needs healthy fuel to do its job properly. Drinking water and eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts can have a positive impact on your mood and attention.
3. Sleep well: Make your bedroom comfortable and commit to sleeping at least 6-8 hours every night. A dark, cool room is best for sleeping and a good night’s rest can reduce stress significantly.
4. Avoid last minute studying: Reviewing your notes right before you go into a test can lead to more stress and anxiety than you need. Reading something hurriedly can make you second-guess what you know or cause you to be insecure about what you don’t know. Instead, put your books away at least 2 hours before your exam – take a nap, eat, and go for walk before sitting down to write.
5. Listen to relaxing music: Listening to relaxing music can help calm your nerves and increase your focus. Research shows that instrumental or classical music is best for increasing attention span.
6. Talk to someone: If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, talking to someone about it can help. Confide in friends or make time to visit a counselor. For more information about Counseling in Canada and resources on campus, visit:
7. For more tips on reducing stress & staying healthy during exams click here.


List #3: Five Foods to Boost Your Brain Power
1. Carbohydrates: Your brain needs carbohydrates to function well. Choosing whole grain and low glycemic-index foods releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Examples: Brown rice, Whole Grain bread or pasta, sweet potato, fruits, vegetables.
2. Oily fish & nuts: Omega-3 fats are also essential to brain function. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish and nuts such as salmon or walnuts.
3. Blueberries: Blueberries help with short term memory and make a great, healthy study snack!
4. Dark Chocolate: The flavonols in chocolate improve cognitive function, mood, and memory.
5. Curry: Curry contains a chemical called curcumin which can boost memory, and stimulate neurogenesis to create new brain cells.
6. For more information about brain-healthy foods, click here.


List #4: Studying On Campus
1. D.B Weldon Library will be open 24 hours/day from April 9th-19th, 2014.
2. Taylor Library will be open 8:30am-12:00am from April 9th-April 30th.
3. Classroom Study Space is available from 7:00am- 11:00pm during the exam season. For more information click here.
4. There is a FREE late night shuttle service is being provided by the USC offering students a safe way to get home after LTC buses stop running. For more information, click here.
5. For more information and Academic and Career Wellness Resources on campus visit our i-wellness site.


We hope you have a healthy and successful exam season!
All the best from IESC 

Get Informed and Get Involved with EnviroWestern!

enviroDo You  Want a Greener Western?

SO… you’ve been telling yourself:  “I know sustainability is a global issue and I want to help, but I don’t know where to start because it feels like I can’t make a difference.”

If you’re interested in sustainability and positive change but not sure where to start, then EnviroWestern’s London Youth Sustainability Network has perfect opportunities for you to GET INVOLVED from now until April 10th!

Eco-Action Day 2014- Friday, March 28th, 3-7 pm in the Mustang Lounge

Come to ECO-ACTION DAY 2014 and be inspired to take action on sustainability issues at home and around the world. This event will feature short films and presentations, followed by an action activity – make something, discover something, create something! Later on, participate in a discussion about personal sustainability and what Western can do to move forward in being an eco-leader. The keynote speaker will be Steven Scuzs from Sustainable Joes, and session topics will include: Coffee Cup Waste, Consumer Consumption, and Sustainable Food. There will be a FREE, sustainable dinner for all registered participants. Tickets are free but will go quickly, so register online soon:

Note: This is not a drop in event- all registered participants are asked to stay for the entire event. Please arrive promptly at 3:00pm; doors will close at 3:10 pm and re-open at 7:00 pm. If you need to enter or exit at a different time, please send an email to

Please also check out the EcoAction Day Facebook event page:

Western’s 2014 Green Awards Ceremony- March 31, 12-1pm, Mustang Lounge East

You are also invited to attend Western’s 2014 Green Awards Ceremony on March 31st. Come learn about many of the excellent sustainability initiatives happening at Western and show your appreciation for some of the individuals implementing positive change on campus. Please RSVP to by March 27 if you would like to attend these awards.

USC’s Enviro Western’s Annual Campus Clean Up Day- Tuesday, April 1

Everyone is encouraged to get involved in Western’s Annual Campus Clean Up on Tuesday, April 1. The event will be open to all students, staff and faculty at Western and is a great way to show appreciation for the University’s beautiful campus. Three clean-up times will be held throughout the day at 10:30am, 11:30am, and 12:30pm. There will be a free BBQ lunch after each clean up and many prizes are available to be won. The clean-up meeting point will be on concrete beach. If it is raining outside, go to Mustang Lounge. If you are interested in participating, send an email to indicating which time slot works best for you.

Facebook event page:

Earth Day Colloquium- Thursday, April 9-10

The annual Earth Day Colloquium (EDC) is a completely FREE, student run, two-day event celebrating research being conducted in the field of Environment and Sustainability. Embracing the interdisciplinary nature of this field, the Colloquium provides a forum for a broad range of topics in the Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, Business, Policy, and Management. Presenters have the option of giving a full presentation (15 mins), a “speed talk” (5 mins), or a poster presentation.  All presentations will take place on April 9 -10, 2014.

NEW: Photo and Art Contest! Everyone is invited to submit art work or photos in various categories and themes. No experience is required! For more information: If you have any questions, please feel free to email

Post written by: Gloria Zhu

Happy St.Patrick’s Day!


About St. Patrick’s Day

When you start to see green shamrocks everywhere, you know St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner! St. Patrick’s Day is a special holiday in honour of St. Patrick- also known as the Apostle of Ireland. St.Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 17th with parades and festivities, usually held on the weekend closest to this date. In Canada, schools and workplaces remain open on St.Patrick’s Day. Typically, people wear all shades of green and accessories resembling shamrocks or clovers (a small green plant). Four-leaf clovers (an uncommon variation of the three-leaf type) are believed to bring good luck to their finders. According to legend, the first leaflet is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck. The chances of finding a four-leaf clover are about 10,000 to one. Five-leaf clovers are supposed to be even luckier (and rarer) than four-leaf clovers.

In Canada, people often go to Irish pubs and parties and dance and sing to Irish music. Toronto, Montreal, and other large cities also host St. Patrick’s Day Parades. Though this holiday has Irish roots, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved to be an international holiday – everyone can be Irish on March 17th!

For more information about St.Patrick’s Day, watch the video below:

5 Interesting Facts about St. Patrick’s Day:

1. Until 1970, St.Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday in Ireland. All pubs were closed by law.

2. Today, beer is the beverage of choice during this holiday. Some places even sell green-coloured beer just for the occasion!

3. The biggest St. Patrick’s Day Parade is not even held in Ireland – it is held in New York City.

4. The Chicago tradition of dying the river green began in 1962- today the river is coloured with vegetable dye.

5. St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born in Roman Britain and was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave when he was 16 years old.

Celebrating St.Patrick’s Day?

If you are planning to drink alcohol at a party or at an Irish pub, we encourage you to drink responsibly. Know your limit and plan a ride home before you go out. Make sure you stay with friends, don’t take drinks from strangers, and never leave drinks unattended. Also remember that there is a 24/7 Noise Bylaw in London so be sure to notify neighbours if you are having a party. Police presence in student areas and downtown will be higher than usual on St. Patricks Day (see here for more details). For more tips on navigating parties and gatherings, visit the Social & Cultural Wellness page on our i-wellness website.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Post written by: Sherry Ma, Gloria Zhu, & Carol Cao


Family Day in Canada

This Monday- February 17th, is Family Day! In honour of this special holiday, our IESC Blog Volunteers have put together a our first-ever video blog!. In it, international students from around the world share a little bit about their families back home and their new ”family” here in Canada.  We hope that you enjoy the video and take a minute to share your own reflections about family in comments below! Special thanks to everyone who participated

This holiday was first observed in Alberta in 1990, followed by Saskatchewan in 2007, and Ontario in 2008. It is traditionally celebrated with a day off on the second Monday in February each year and provides an opportunity to reflect on the values of family and home. Importantly, Family Day is the only official holiday between New Years Day and Good Friday which are approximately three months apart. During Family Day weekend, many people plan and take part in group activities with their loved ones including skating on outdoor ice rinks, playing hockey, playing board games, or watching movies. Many workers and students also take the opportunity to travel during this special long weekend. Though it may be cold outside, the warmth of family and friends makes this winter holiday and extra-special one! Have a hot chocolate and some freshly baked cookies with your friends and be sure to plan a special Skype session with family back home!

Need more inspiration? See below for ideas on what to do in London this weekend and over the break.

On Campus

Drop in Gym Schedule
Swim Schedule
Western Mustangs Sports Games

Arts & Culture

Local Theater

Jet Aircraft Museum
Domestic Arrivals Canadian Documentary Series
Museum London
Tree Trunk Tour


City of London Outdoor Skating Areas
London Lightning Game Schedule
London Knights Game Schedule
Rock climbing, Mini Golf, Billiards & Bowling
Billiards & Bowling
Indoor Beach Volleyball
Ski, Snowboard, & Snow Tubing


Cineplex London

Video and Post by: Sherry Ma, Gloria Zhu, & Carol Cao

The Importance of Consent

Sexual violence and consent can be topics that are difficult to talk about, but they are important to understand, especially when we consider that 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, rates of sexual assault are five times higher for women under the age of 35 and rape culture is not only present but growing on campuses. These facts aren’t meant to scare you, but rather demonstrate how important it is today to understand how sexual violence persists, and how negative comments that are made in the public have a damaging and lasting effect on the people who are survivors of sexual violence. Therefore, we all must do our part to learn about the importance of consent, and make sure that those around us do as well, to limit the occurrence of sexual violence.

Understanding what consent is can be tricky, but this video below compares sexual consent to riding a bike and it can help break down the concept.

Basically, consent is an agreement between participants to engage in any kind of sexual activity. Consent is not static, and communication is crucial in determining whether both participants are consenting. Giving consent for one activity, at one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. This link provides more information about the basics of consent, if you’d like to read more.

October 17th to October 23rd is Consent and Sexual Awareness week at Western, with a number of events occurring throughout the week. These include guest lectures, discussions, and an opportunity to write positive messages for individuals who have been impacted by sexual violence. Check out the event page here and on Facebook for more details. Also, take a look at for more information about consent, sexual violence, and myths that surround sexual violence. Make sure you have conversations about it with people you trust if you have any questions. Finally, if you or anyone you know has experienced sexual violence or needs someone to talk to at Western, follow this link for methods to getting help, seeking care, and information about reporting and counseling options. Stay safe, and remember, we’re here for you.

Everything You Need to Know to Survive Canadian Winter

If this is your first time experiencing Canadian winter, or you need a refresher on just what you should be doing when that first snow fall hits the ground, then this post is for you! Note that snow can arrive as early as the end of October, even though the winter season officially starts in December. Therefore, it’s always better to be prepared before the snow starts, and hopefully this will help you manage your expectations about the snow.

The golden rule is to always check the temperature before you go outside. Even if you look outside the window, and it looks sunny, chances are it won’t be all that warm. Don’t let the sunshine trick you, because more often than not, the “wind chill” will make the temperature feel much colder than it looks, so checking the temperature will come in handy as it starts to cool down. You can download The Weather Network App to make it easier on yourself.

When it comes to dressing for the cold, a coat that is water and wind resistant will be necessary to keep yourself warm. It is important to have sturdy boots that are also water-resistant, paired with warm thermal socks as these will help keep your feet nice and cozy, and the boots will help you manage any chance of slipping on the ice and snow. It’s a good idea to cover your head and ears, so you might want a warm hat or beanie (also known as a toque in Canada). Mittens or gloves, and a scarf are additional cold-weather accessories that will help you stay warm and comfortable. Be sure to stop by the IESC to see examples of winter clothing, and for additional information about where to purchase these items.

If you haven’t already explored the tunnels on campus, make sure you do. There are several tunnels throughout campus for example, between the UCC and Social Science Building. This map outlines all the major tunnels on campus. These are great if you’re trying to escape the cold in between classes.

Just how cold it gets can be shocking, but there are plenty of things you can do to make the most of it and really enjoy the season. It could be something as small as trying Tim Horton’s white hot chocolate once it comes out, or maybe something bigger, like planning a trip to Boler Mountain or go ice skating at Victoria Park with some friends. Be sure to also check out these winter events in London! Not to mention, the snow fall is always gorgeous, and you’re almost guaranteed a perfect Instagram post. If you’re not convinced, take a look at these posts from last year on Western’s own Instagram!

(and please note that, yes, the geese DO stay around in the winter. They’re used to the weather).

To fully familiarize yourself with experiencing winter in Canada; be sure to register for “Canada Eh?! Shopping and Preparing for Canadian Winters” on Wednesday, October 5th at 12:00 pm or on Wednesday October 12th at 6:00 pm. Click the link for more information about the session and to sign up for this helpful session.

Explore London

Start your day with breakfast at a quirky café and a walk along the Thames River. Explore the beautiful architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral and many heritage sites throughout London. Stop to read a book in lush Victoria Park, right in the heart of the city. Spend your afternoon shopping artisan crafts, gourmet food and local produce at Covent Garden Market. Then, catch a musical at the Grand Theatre after dinner at an intimate French bistro. This could be very easily pass as travel itinerary for London, England featured in a Lonely Planet book. Or, it could be how you spend your day off as a resident of London, Ontario.

Western students live in London, but many of them exist within a bubble that limits their exposure to what goes on outside of campus life. Students understand London as Western University, north London and parts of Richmond Row – but they experience very little of the whole city.

On October 1 and 2, London will be holding its 15th annual Doors Open event. With over 40 sites and 150 events, the weekend long celebration offers an opportunity to explore the diversity of London’s heritage and culture. Don’t miss out on this free pass to snoop around the city’s most exclusive locations! Visit  for event details.

Interested in exploring more of what London has to offer? Here’s an insider list of some of the activities you should try to fit in between afternoons at Weldon and evenings at home:

Shop at London’s Covent Garden Market, and explore the city’s largest collection of farm-fresh, local foods.

Catch up on course readings with a freshly brewed coffee at Black Walnut Café, Locomotive Espresso, or Edgar and Joes.

Have brunch at The Bag Lady Variety, a funky vintage inspired café that serves homemade all-day breakfast.

If you get tired of studying on campus, check out the London Public Library. They offer free Internet access, resource help desks, and an opportunity to observe and interact with London locals.

Catch an indie film at Hyland Cinemas, London’s Art and International Film House.

Indulge in an all-you-can eat feast at 168 Sushi, a favourite celebration spot for group birthday dinners.

Spend a winter evening skating in Victoria Park. Rent a stick and puck from the rink, and join in on a community game of Canada’s favourite sport Hockey.

Wander through the unique and historic community of Wortley Village, awarded ‘Canada’s Greatest Neighbourhood’ by Canadian Institute of Planners in 2013.

Attend a concert at London Music Hall, a major stop for bands and artists on tour throughout Southern Ontario. The Trews, Tory Lanez and Sam Roberts Band are on their upcoming events list.

Spend an evening with friends playing board games and munching on snacks at Chill or Cardboard Café.

Studying Made Easy – Tips and Tricks

Even though it feels like O-Week just ended, it’s unfortunately time to put that wristband away and really focus on studying, especially with midterms approaching before you know it. Fear not, as with these handy tips and resources you’ll get through the exam period in a breeze. Western thankfully offers a tremendous amount of support throughout your academic careers; and taking advantage of these resources will be truly beneficial. It can be hard sometimes to keep track of everything available, so this should help you embark on an academically successful year.

Plan out your week ahead of time:

This will help you stay organized and keep track of upcoming due dates. Use this weekly planning guide provided by Learning Skills Services at Student Development Center, or create your own. Spend a little bit of time reviewing for each class, and review the information that you learned during class at the end of the day. Be sure to leave some time for yourself. Keeping yourself organized is one key way to make sure that you never run out of time to finish assignments or study for exams. Also, keep in mind that Learning Skills Services also offers an e-newsletter with strategies for success, for both undergraduate and graduate students. Check out their website for more details about this handy newsletter.

Talk to your Professor/TA:

While this may seem intuitive, not enough students take advantage of the abundant knowledge that their professors and TAs have to offer. Most are happy to answer questions during office hours, and are willing to arrange additional appointments to fit your schedule. In some cases, they may even be able to answer your questions quickly and clearly through email; all you have to do is make that first step. It can sometimes be daunting to talk to a professor, especially when you’re in a big class, so it might help to have a list of questions prepared on a piece of paper, or emailing the professor beforehand so they understand what your concerns are. Be sure to check your course outlines if your professors have any specific rules about emails and remember, professors want to help you succeed!

Check out the Writing Support Centre:

Essay writing can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time writing one for university. The Writing Support Center offers a wide range of services for both undergraduate and graduate students, including a drop-in service that runs from 10:30 am – 4:30 PM (Monday to Friday) at Weldon Library Room 102A. Alternatively, you can sign up for a 50-minute one-on-one session with a writing counselor. Take a look at their website for more details about all the services they offer. Knowing that there’s an entire centre dedicated to helping you with written assignments, that essay doesn’t seem so scary anymore, does it?

Finally, the most crucial note of all, take care of yourself:

As important as studying is, your mental and physical health always comes first. Go to the gym, or watch a movie with your friends. Spend Thursday evenings at Global Café in the International and Graduate Affairs building. Make sure that you’re eating at least three full meals a day (remember, as delicious as it is, just coffee doesn’t count as a meal). Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep, you’ll study better and have more energy for the day. If you feel tired during the day, it might be helpful to take a 10-20 minute nap, check out this article for 13 tips to planning the best nap. is a great resource for international students.

With these helpful tips, hopefully the upcoming assignments and exams seem like less of a trek. If you have any concerns, stop by the IESC in the International and Graduate Affairs Building, where you can be referred to the appropriate resources. We’re always available to help! Good luck, and be sure to check Student Development Centre and follow IESC’s Facebook page for upcoming academic events.

Upcoming sessions for International Students:

Start Strong – Effective Writing in Canada – September 21st

Start Strong – Strategies for Academic Success – September 21st

Reading Strategies for International Students – September 26th