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Three students walking around downtown Vancouver

When You Arrive

So you’ve landed in Vancouver International Airport (YVR), it is your first day living in Vancouver!

Now what?

Prior to arriving in Vancouver, you need to ensure you have made the necessary living arrangements, whether that be living with a homestay or other accommodations. Among the options for accommodations that you can choose from include homestay, room rental or apartment rental.

Homestay in Canada

If you’re looking for a truly Canadian experience, homestays are a popular choice for many of our students.

Host families provide security, protection, and care for their homestay students. In addition, you will feel a part of the family as you’re slowly integrated into Canadian culture.

If you’re under 19 years of age, it is required by law in British Columbia that you stay in a homestay with a family and have a local, legal guardian.

Homestay companies can also provide guardianship services for international students if you require it. If you are over 19 years of age, you also have the choice to stay with a homestay family if that’s of interest.

Ways to Make the Best of Your Homestay

You can learn a whole lot about Canada by staying with a Canadian family during your time as a student! Canada is a hub of multiple cultures and we embrace diversity! You will be able to experience both Canadian culture and share your culture and traditions with your host family.

Homestay companies carefully review the information they receive from students through their application forms in order to place you with a family that has a positive match for both interests and hobbies.

This makes your homestay a convenient and educational option, and an incredibly enjoyable one!

1. Be Open.

Talk to your homestay family if you’re having problems or any misunderstandings. Very often an open conversation helps resolve any conflict.

2. Communicate.

Let your homestay family know if you need anything or if something is making you feel uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to speak up!

3. Speak English.

The best way to learn English is by speaking English. You will not be judged for your English skills.

4. Be Respectful of New Customs.

You can use your homestay experience as an opportunity to learn something new – one that is not common in your own culture.

5. Be Respectful of the Home.

If you accidentally damage your homestay family’s property, be open about it – honesty is always appreciated.

6. Keep the host family informed if you are running late.

Your safety is your homestay family’s priority, so please let them know if you are planning on coming home late or if you are behind schedule for dinner.

Apartment Rentals – Single or Family

Renting an apartment alone can provide peace, privacy, and a sense of independence! Like many things, you should also do research on the pros and cons of renting at the same time.

Renting in Vancouver can provide you the urban surroundings of the city, and you will also be in walking distance to all the exciting things that Vancouver has to offer. With this convenience, the cost of renting and living in Vancouver is among the highest of other locations in the area.

On that note, the cost to rent an apartment for living in Vancouver varies from one neighbourhood to another. You should also include any additional costs such as utilities and groceries into your budget.

If you’re looking at more expensive neighbourhoods in Vancouver, you can check out Downtown, Yaletown, Cambie Village, and West Vancouver. Monthly rental rates for a studio or 1-bedroom apartment in these areas vary in prices but are around an average of $2000 per month.

You may find living spaces more cost-effective in locations like East Vancouver, Commercial Drive, Fraserview, Marpole, and Burnaby, but we encourage you to research beforehand.

Shared Rentals

Vancouver is host to thousands of international students every year. You can choose to share accommodations with other international students. This can be a good way to make friends and save money.

Students of Alexander College may post advertisements for available shared accommodation on the student notice bulletin boards at either campus.

Some popular local websites providing rental listings in the Burnaby/Vancouver area are:

No matter which part of the Greater Vancouver Area you choose to live in, and whether you’re renting an apartment on your own or sharing with a roommate, it can be a new and exciting experience for you!

Getting around in Vancouver

The Vancouver transit system is a great way for you to quickly familiarise yourself with getting around the city. You can use the Skytrains and various bus lines to get to where you need to go.

A great app to download that would help navigate the system is the Translink Phone App.

We also now have Lyft services available in Vancouver, as well as various taxi companies.

Alexander College campuses are located central to a variety of public transport options. You can easily find your way to the Alexander College Burnaby campus via the Metrotown Skytrain station.

As well, the Alexander College Vancouver campus is located right by the Waterfront Skytrain station and is central to a variety of shops, restaurants and services.

Medical Insurance in Vancouver

Life happens and as an international student in Vancouver, it is important for you to get medical insurance. You can get access to comprehensive public healthcare in the province of British Columbia, through BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP).

How about Working in Canada as a student?

You may have plans to work in Canada during your time as a student at Alexander College, and/or will be looking at Post Grad Work Permits.

There are a variety of options for you as a student looking for work, such as on campus employment and external places of work! That said, you need to keep up to date on any study permit renewals that you will need to do while being a student.

Welcome to Vancouver

You may be wondering to yourself, what does student life look like in Vancouver? How can I make the most of it?

Well you’re in luck!

Canada is one of the world’s most beautiful countries and Vancouver is a stunning mesh of nature and urban feels. Not to mention the clean, fresh air and water!

Depending on where you are coming from, you may be worried about the climate.

Vancouver has the mildest fluctuation of temperature compared to the rest of Canada. Rain is common in Vancouver, especially during the Fall months between September to December.

You will find that Summer in Vancouver is particularly lovely. We are lucky to receive a ton of sunshine, hot weather that at times goes up to 28 degrees Celsius. You can bet that our beaches are packed!

If you love water sports, summertime calls for plenty of days basking in the sunshine on our multitude of beaches around the city. In the winter months, winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are popular activities that you can partake in.

The city of Vancouver is bustling with fun activities that you can access easily via our transit system. You can walk about downtown Vancouver for some shopping and find a variety of restaurants of different cuisines.

Poutine is a popular dish that consists of freshly made fries covered in flavourful gravy. A staple for Canada and a must-try. You can venture around Canada Place, which is a popular tourist spot that overlooks the water. You will find that Canada Place is also where the Vancouver Convention Centre is located.

Here, you will also be surrounded by various choices for food and shopping, or just take in the beautiful view of the water and mountains.

On the Topic of Food

Being a multicultural city, you can find food from all over the world in Vancouver.

We love it when our students take pride in food from their home countries. They help share a piece of what cultural significance is contained in food, and through this, we learn a little bit more about each other.

Get your mouth watering over Korean food like bingsu with our student, Brian, learn about the history of sushi from our Japanese student, Go, explore Taiwanese cuisine with Linda or learn how to make bubble tea with Aaron!

Food trucks are also very popular in Vancouver and you see them all over the city, especially during the summer months! You can venture downtown with us and explore a handful of the many food trucks you can expect to see in the city.

The Great Outdoors and Tourist Spots in Vancouver

Ranked as one of the world’s best parks, Stanley Park is the jewel of Vancouver. You can choose to walk or bike along the stunning seawall, and take in the city skyline. If you prefer to explore Stanley Park through a tour, you can also join in the very popular horse carriage tour that brings you through various pit stops along the park. Stanley Park is also where the Vancouver Aquarium is located.

Do you love specialty stores, markets and the art scene?

You can easily take the Aquabus at False Creek that will lead you straight to Granville Island! The Aquabus arrives on a schedule so be sure to check it out prior to planning your trip- though they come every 15 minutes so it is very frequent!

The Aquabus makes several stops on route but the most popular one is Granville Island.

Granville Island is a hub for food, art, and culture. You will find a marketplace filled with fresh seafood, delectable baked goods and art pieces. Walk along the water and venture through the streets and find unique cafes and if you’re a fan of theatre, the Vancouver Improv Theatre is located here. Granville Island is an open concept space, so expect a ton of sunshine with an ice cream in hand.

There’s also a really cool way for you to plan your day at Granville Island on their website, where you can specify the time frame you’d like to spend there, interests and more.

Not only that, there are plenty of fun tourist attractions all over Vancouver, such as the Gastown Steam Clock, or do a tour of the city with Vancouver Tours. It is a great way to meet some new friends and explore the city.

Vancouver is a Multicultural Hub

As an international student living in Canada, you will be a part of the vast multicultural hub that is Vancouver.

Being surrounded by a multitude of different cultures means you’re able to learn about other cultures and share your own at the same time.

You will be able to do so right at Alexander College as well!

You can fully embrace student life in a new country by being an active student participating in the various student life events and activities on campus. We will share more on this further down in this article.

You may be wondering, what’s the best way to learn about other cultures?

We have a special YouTube series called AC Exchange and it is a great resource for you to learn new languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, Farsi, Japanese and more from the comfort of your devices. you will learn commonly used phrases, how it looks written down and how to pronounce them in these videos.

As well, our students love attending the cultural events on campus- regardless of their own culture. Everyone is welcome!

At AC, you can expect events like our annual Diwali celebration! Staff and students come together to celebrate and have a great time dancing to Indian music and learning more about the Indian culture.

On campus, we regularly celebrate other cultural holidays such as Nowruz and Lunar New Year. You can expect various activities, games, and food on campus!

Alexander College acknowledges that the land on which we usually gather is the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work in this territory.

Alexander College acknowledges that the land on which we usually gather is the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work in this territory.