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Studying in Canada - experiences?

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So I'm 20 years old and I'm starting to get restless in the small community where I live. I have an itch to discover the world, educate myself and forge the life I dream of. I've always had dreams of studying in Canada/USA, and the last few weeks I've been reading up on Canada, which seems like a very pleasant and exciting country (for a smalltown Swede like me anyway). The university I have in mind is Simon Fraser Univeristy in Vancouver, the education I'm interested in is Media/Communications. I'm wondering if any fellow ENAers have studied and lived in Canada and if you'd like to share your experiences. Maybe you even came there from another country, like I'm planning to? Please share!

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Simon Fraser is an absolutely beautiful University in a gorgeous setting. It has strong academics, plus a very good athletic program.


I live in Ontario, which is thousands of Kms away, and I went to University in this province too (Queen's University and UWO). Most Canadian universites have many foreign students so you'd be more than welcome. You'd have to do a TOEFL (test of english as a foreign language) which you'd most likely have no problems passing, since your English seems strong. You need to remember though that tuition will be quite high, plus travel expenses will be hefty as well.


I think it could be a fantastic experience for you.

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Simon Fraser has a very good reputation and has a beautiful campus. If you're looking at universities on the east coast I'd also look at Mount Allison university (http://www.mta.ca), as it's consistently the #1 ranked Canadian undergraduate school, or a university in Halifax--such as Dalhousie or St. Mary's. Halifax is a great city. Very friendly and diverse.


If you want exposure to a non-English language I would also consider Montreal as a destination. Extremely diverse, English/Fresh exposure, etc.

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Not everyone can handle the climate in Vancouver. It can rain for weeks on end and you get little sun. It is also a city that has serious problems with homelessnes and addiction. Every city does but in Vancouver it's so out in the open, it can make you depressed.


The winters are less harsh though, and you can see mountains and ocean at once. Huge Asian influence, which means great sushi.


Another option, if money is an issue, is Montreal. Once you've lives there 1 year without studying you become a permanent resident, and pay super low tuition. McGill also rates as the best university in the country.


Culturally, you may fit in better in Montreal.


If you like nature and the mountains, Calgary can be a great city. The university of Alberta in Edmonton is also one of the best in the country. Because of an oil boom, Alberta is one of the few parts of the world where you don't feel like you're a part of the global economic turmoil, and with analysts saying there's a 40% chance of a global recession, that's important.

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Keep in mind that SFU is in Burnaby, not Vancouver proper. The west coast is rainy, but that's the price we pay to live in a rain forest. We are rewarded with excellent hiking, watersports, camping and the like.

Vancouver is a great option over other Canadian cities if you hate the cold. It does not get nearly as cold here as it does in the rest of the nation and it rarely snows.

I do not live there anymore, but I did enjoy my time there, and would love to move back.

Not going to lie, there is a striking presence of homeless people that can be shocking to see if you are not expecting it. Stay off the downtown east side. This is the worst area. The rest of the Fraser Valley is relatively safe.

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I actually think the SFU campus is ugly as sin. It's ok if you're into grey and concrete. It's been compared to a prison and I don't think that's far off. Architecturally horrendous, but otherwise a fine school.


Vancouver is really only rainy in the winter. It's that or the eyeballs freezing in your head cold of other Canadian cities. Not much snow, but watch the hillarity that ensues when a couple of centimeters gets on the ground, the whole city basically shuts down. We do tend to riot when our hockey team loses but we're a generally laid back bunch of granola crunching, tree hugging, overly-fit, yoga posing, pot smoking, outdoorsy types. Also, all the men in Vancouver think the women are stuck up, and all the women think the men are spineless with no personality (don't know how relevant that is but the people in Vancouver talk about it all the time, kinda weird I think).

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I still live on the west coast, although no longer in Van, and yeah, the traffic vs the snow is a joke to the rest of Canada.

For some perspective, I lived in the desert, where it hardly rained, and when it did, it was like Vancouver in the snow. The roads cleared and people wouldn't go outsite. I had the advantage there, having just moved down from the rain forest. I can boldly go out for groceries, where no man dare! lol! No lineups!

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Thank you all so much for your replies! There really is a well of experience here. You've given me many fine suggestions, which makes it all the more interesting and difficult to choose where to go. I'm still hot for Vancouver, but the diversity of Montreal fascinates me, and I'm a sucker for nature so Calgary looks appetizing too. I'm a bit worried about language though; I heard that in Montreal more than 50 % speak French as their first language. I'd like to learn it but I heard it's one of the most difficult languages to learn!

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You won't have any problems in Montreal speaking English. The West side of the city is English and the East side is French. Having said that, though, pretty much everyone you'll meet will speak fluent English.


Montreal is not only cheaper in terms of tuition, but everything is cheaper - rent, food, entertainment, taxis... If you like to eat, you'll find the most wonderful restaurants with really cheap food. And lots of festivals, like the Jazz Fest, Formula 1, etc. with free entertainment. Montreal is a city where you can live a really good, fun life while living in poverty, which makes it perfect for a student.


The economy isn't so great, though, (and the taxes are high) so once you're done school and ready to get "serious" with your life, you'll probably end up leaving.

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I personally find the nature in Vancouver to be amazing! Sure, inside the city is mostly that... city. However it's situated in a temperate rain forest, and the hiking in the surrounding areas is amazing!

I almost take waterfalls for granted now, I see them every day.

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