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The basics
Canada: Once you arrive - Must read

Top 5 things to do in Canada

If you have decided to move to Canada for your studies you're probably wondering what there is to do and see as an international student. We explore the top five options.

See a hockey game featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs

Canada has proven to be a destination that attracts a lot of attention from international students. With the combination of high-quality educational institutions, a multicultural society and a high quality of life, it’s no surprise. From the vibrant city of Toronto to the Rocky Mountains you won’t be short of things to do if you choose to study in Canada. However, there are definitely experiences you should add to your list as an international student. We take a look at the top five things to do in Canada.


Sample Canadian cuisine


One of the best ways to experience a culture is to sample the food that’s on offer. While Canada don’t have a huge variety of what can be called ‘national dishes/foods’ there are few that you should have a taste of. The first, and probably most well-known, is maple syrup. It is used as a topping, a glaze and in sauces.


You can try some of the more traditional ways it is eaten on top of waffles and pancakes and if you are a meat eater you may enjoy pork (especially bacon), beef or chicken that has been marinated in the syrup. More than 70 per cent of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada and the maple tree enjoys esteemed status in Canadian culture, with the leaf adorning the Canadian flag.


What may be considered an acquired taste is the Canadian dish poutine. It is thought to have been introduced almost 70 years ago in Quebec and it combines French fries, gravy (thick meat derived sauce) and cheese curds. If you’re not familiar with cheese curds, they are produced during the process of making cheese. You can think of them as the early of stage of the more traditional cheeses you may be familiar with, like cheddar.  The curds are the small solid pieces of clotted milk with a springy texture. There are various ways poutine is eaten including accompanied by seafood and meat.


If you are more a fan of desserts or have a sweet tooth, then beaver tail could be the choice for you. The dough-based snack, shaped to resemble a beaver tail, one of the official animals of Canada, is deep fried and then has various toppings including fruit, chocolate and sweets.  Don’t be afraid of venturing outside of your comfort zone and trying new things.  You could end up finding something you really enjoy.


Why not also take a look at some of the post-study work options in Canada.


Visit Niagara Falls


Now we know this may seem a little bit of a cliché, with a visit to Niagara Falls often making the bucket list of many visitors to Canada. However, it is well worth checking out. Located just south of Toronto on the border with the United States, Niagara Falls actually consists of three waterfalls known as American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Canadian Falls. It is a spectacular site, with over 3,000 tons of water cascading over the edge every second and at some places it is over 50 metres high.


There are quite a few activities that you can do at the falls, with one of the firm favourites being a boat ride or cruise close to the falls themselves. While it does command a bit more of a price tag, there are also a helicopter rides over the falls, to get some picturesque aerial views. Other activities surrounding the falls include ziplining, walking through the botanical gardens, food tours, hiking and an amusement park. It’s a great weekend getaway and road trip if you’re studying in Ontario or Toronto at institutions including:



Attend an ice hockey match


For a unique cultural experience and one that may get your adrenalin pumping, attending an ice hockey match is a must. Ice hockey can be described as more than a passion in Canada and is the number on sport in the country. Many have remarked that going to a hockey game is unforgettable with the competition on the rink coupled with the partisan support in the crowd sparking a real energy. You could attend a university level match, however for the full experience a game in the National Hockey League (NHL) is recommended.


Canada has seven teams in a professional league that spans both Canada and America. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in a key part of Canadian culture, watch professional athletes go through their paces and taste some Canadian food. Some of the cities in Canada that are ice hockey crazy include Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. In fact, if you choose to study in and around Vancouver, on the west coast, you may be able to watch one of the countries most supported teams, the Vancouver Canucks. Some of the institutions you could attend in the area include:



Try a winter sport


Although some parts of Canada have milder winters, such as Vancouver and Calgary, for much of the country the mercury drops below zero in the winter months of the year, meaning ice and snow. Although it is quite cold, it’s not all bad news with the opportunity to try some new activities namely ice skating, skiing and snowboarding. In many cities you’ll be able to find ice rinks where you can rent some skates and learn the basics. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous there are some outdoor options, including frozen lakes, but this should always be approached with caution and and careful consultation.


With Canada boasting the Rocky Mountains you also won’t be short of choices for destinations to try out skiing and snowboarding. This is particularly true of British Columbia in the west of the country, including the legendary Red Mountain and Revelstoke resorts. If you’re just starting out you can try more local destinations or beginner’s classes. There are plenty of informal ways you can learn to ski or snowboard as well, with small snow-capped hills and mountains never that far away in winter.


Go hiking and camping


With an abundance of natural landscapes and wilderness to explore, Canada is often described as a hiker’s paradise. One of the best things about hiking and camping is that it doesn’t cost very much, which is perfect for a student budget, and it’s also very rewarding. One of the most recommended places in Canada is the Banff National Park, located in Alberta, north-west of the city of Calgary. The park is known for its picturesque, unspoiled landscapes that includes mountains, lakes, rivers and even thermal hot springs.


Apart from the great hiking trails there is also kayaking, biking and skiing you can take part in.  The national park is one of many offering a great opportunity to get outdoors. In the east of the country you can also visit Algonquin Park known for its spectacular display of autumn leaves or the Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan located in the centre of Canada. In fact, Saskatchewan also boasts a number of institutions including Saskatchewan Polytechnic.  


Now that you have some ideas of what kind of places you can go to and the activities you can partake in when studying take a look at what makes the country unique, the most popular degrees in Canada for international students and why you might consider studying in Canada.