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International Students in Vancouver: After You Arrive

Written by Alexander College in Vancouver on July 9, 2024

Welcome to Vancouver! Now that you’ve arrived in Canada, it’s time to make the most of your time here!

Prior to arriving in Vancouver, you’ve completed all the important steps towards becoming a student at Alexander College like submitting your documents and securing living arrangements.

Now it’s time to take a look at what you can expect living in one of the most diverse cities in Canada while studying at Alexander College.

Living in Vancouver

Key Points

  • 🌡 Mild weather: Relative to the rest of Canada, Vancouver has the mildest weather ranging from -7°C to 28°C. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella!
  • 🍜 Global food: Vancouver’s multicultural population means you can experience dishes from around the world.
  • 🛍 A plethora of shops: From the biggest mall in BC to shops selling local artisan goods, there’s something for everyone!
  • 📷 A mix of city and nature: From Canada Place to Stanley Park, Vancouver has the best of both worlds when it comes to scenery and landmarks.

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

The city of Vancouver is bustling with fun activities that you can access easily via our transit system. The SkyTrain and bus lines operated by TransLink connect neighbourhoods by land while the SeaBus connects Vancouver and North Vancouver by sea.

For those who prefer travelling on foot, you can walk about downtown Vancouver for some shopping and find a variety of restaurants serving different cuisines.

two students walking around Stanley Park

Weather in Vancouver

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 and spring from March to April.

You will find that summer in Vancouver is particularly lovely. We are lucky to receive a ton of sunshine, and warm 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.

If staying dry is your preference, there are over 30 hiking trails and bike routes throughout Metro Vancouver and the surrounding area.

a row of bikes for rental
Robson Square Ice Rink at night

In the winter months, with temperatures sometimes dropping to -7 degrees Celsius, winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are popular activities that you can partake in.

There are also a number of indoor and outdoor skating rinks where you can rent a pair of skates and enjoy ice skating.

Food in Vancouver

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 try the beloved Filipino fast food chain Jollibee for the first time!

We also have a number of YouTube Shorts that showcase our students trying different food for the first time!

assorted Filipino snacks

Trying Filipino Snacks 🍬

three students holding a durian

Trying Durian 👃

two students trying Filipino food

Trying Filipino Food 🇵🇭

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.

When it comes to Canadian cuisine, poutine is a popular dish that consists of freshly made fries covered in flavourful gravy. Originating from Quebec, this dish is a must-try!

Shopping in Vancouver

Notable Malls in Metro Vancouver

  • 🛍 Metropolis at Metrotown: The biggest mall in BC with numerous shops and a movie theatre.
  • 🎫 The Amazing Brentwood: Formerly Brentwood Town Centre, this redeveloped shopping centre now features an arcade known as The Rec Room!
  • 🧳 CF Pacific Centre: Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, this mall offers tourist-focused services such as luggage check so you can shop with ease.
  • 📷 Park Royal Shopping Centre: As Canada’s first covered shopping mall, Park Royal has over 280 stores and services.
  • 🍱 Aberdeen Centre: Located in Richmond, this mall contains a variety of Asian shops including the Japanese variety store Oomomo.
  • ✈️ McArthurGlen Designer Outlet: An outlet mall that is located close to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Wondering where to obtain daily necessities or nice souvenirs for friends and family? Metro Vancouver has no shortage of shops that provide everything you need.

Metro Vancouver has several shopping centres, the most famous of which is Metropolis at Metrotown, commonly referred to as ‘Metrotown’. It is the largest mall in British Columbia and the third-largest mall in all of Canada!

Opened in 1986, Metrotown boasts over 27 million visits annually with over 450 stores and services.

The mall consists of three floors and both above ground and underground parking spots. It is easily accessible via public transportation through SkyTrain and several bus lines.

Aside from shops, Metrotown also contains a food court and a movie theatre.

Next to Metrotown is a shopping centre known as Station Square which is connected to Metrotown via a pedestrian overpass.

outside entrance of Metrotown

A Small Note on Currency

Canada uses the Canadian Dollar as currency (CAD) which shares the same symbol ($) as the United States Dollar (USD) so when making purchases online, make sure you double check the currency!

When it comes to paying for goods and services in person, most places accept debit and credit cards.

However, certain areas like Richmond have a higher percentage of shops that only accept cash or debit, so it’s a good idea to carry a bit of cash on you at all times!

Vancouver Tourist Spots and the Great Outdoors

For those who prefer to stick to the city, 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.

view of Stanley Park

If nature is more your speed, we have a world-renowned park next to the heart of downtown 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!

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 cafesand specialty shops.

If you’re a fan of theatre, the Improv Centre is located here.

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.

False Creek

Aside from Granville Island, 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!

Life as an Alexander College Student

Key Points

  • 📝 Student Support Services: Alexander College offers a variety of services to help students both academically and emotionally.
  • 🌎 Student life: Learn about other cultures while sharing your own through clubs and events!

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 go more into depth about this in a later section.

Japanese language exchange

To facilitate culture exchange, 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 they look written down, and how to pronounce them in these videos.

Our students also love attending cultural events on campus, regardless of their own culture. Everyone is welcome!

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!

afro colombia pamphlet

Check out Our Student Support Services

At Alexander College we offer a variety of student-centered support services so students can succeed both academically and emotionally.

students in the library

When it comes to academic support, the Writing and Learning Centre (WLC) provides one-on-one tutoring for a variety of subjects as well as academic writing skills.

The WLC also hosts workshops that are designed to improve your academic skills which include topics like academic integrity, thesis statement writing, and so on.

The Alexander College Library is a great resource for research assignments complete with a digital catalogue and the inter-library loan system which allows you to request materials from other libraries within the system.

library display
students outside the Health and Wellness office

If you are feeling lost or homesick, our Health and Wellness department offers up to 10 free counseling sessions with a registered counselor each calendar year. You will be able to discuss any concerns you may have in a safe, confidential environment.

Career Advising is there for you if you need assistance in looking for a job. Our Career Advisors are more than happy to help you with resume and cover letter writing, work search strategies, mock interviews, and more.

Career Advising also has a list of employers that are currently hiring which is updated periodically.

Join Our Student Life Clubs and Events

You will find that the best way to connect with friends and learn about Alexander College is through the New Student Orientation on campus.

During orientation, you will get to meet many of our staff and instructors who will share the variety of services available to you as a student.

Plus, it is a fun way to meet new friends in a casual and fun setting!

student looking at the New Student Orientation pamphlet
ACSA 2024

We have a variety of clubs and events available to students at AC.

You can join the Alexander College Student Association (ACSA), which is our student-led committee aimed towards being the voice for the student body. This is a great way for you to play a more active leadership role while being a student.

In addition to the various on-campus events, we run off-campus events such as attending Vancouver Canucks hockey and Whitecaps soccer games, movie viewing, and more!

If you prefer a more outdoors experience, we also have outdoor events such as biking around Stanley Park, day hikes at Cypress Provincial Park, and many more events that show off British Columbia’s natural beauty!

Life as an International Student in Vancouver

We pride ourselves in our students and you can hear real stories from our students themselves in our AC Student Spotlight series.

You will find students from different academic disciplines chatting about how life is like in Vancouver. Many of our students share their experience, and lessons along the way from being an international student in Vancouver and thriving.

student at event

We encourage students to experience new things and participate in events around Metro Vancouver such as visiting the annual Vancouver Christmas Market, trying a variety of bubble tea at the Vancouver Bubble Tea Festival, and admiring the local art scene at the Vancouver Mural Festival.

Keep an eye on our YouTube channel where we showcase our students in a variety of entertaining Shorts! From pronouncing difficult words to trying new food and everything in-between, we want to show what life is like in Vancouver.

You can also learn more about living and studying in Vancouver from our Associate of Arts (Economics) Degree student Fernando. He shares more on his personal experience being aninternational student from Mexico and he embraced his new life in Canada.

How You Can Stay Connected

Stay connected with us on social media!

Whether you are a new or current student, you can connect with us online. We believe that social media is a powerful tool to connect with each other, regardless of where you are geographically.

Our Alexander College Blog is a great resource that is available to you 24/7. You will be able to find more comprehensive information on everything to do with AC, and up to date information on academics, current affairs, and more.

We hope you’ve gained more insight into all the things you can expect as an international student in Vancouver.

We’re excited to welcome you to the Alexander College family!

Get in touch with our Enrolment team!

Learn about our programs, tuition and fees and admissions requirements by requesting additional information. Apply to AC

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.