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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!