There is great cultural diversity in Vancouver where half of the people speaks a first language other than English. Generally, Vancouverites are warm, tolerant and welcoming people. However, it is still important to know about the local customs and practices in any place you are going to. Thus, you are encouraged to attend all orientation sessions available before you leave.
The first thing to remember is to know the laws and obey them. For instance, the legal age for drinking in Vancouver is 19. Establishments may ask for your ID to determine your eligibility when you purchase alcohol and also tobacco. Smoking is prohibited within six metres from government buildings, schools, all indoor public places, transit and transit shelters and some other establishments. Making sexual remarks or advances is also against the law. Click here to find out more about the local laws and regulations
and consequences of breaking the law. Laws are there to protect our health, safety and security and not to infringe on our rights and freedoms.
Vancouverites generally enjoy a lot of responsible freedom and rights. The moment you step into Canada, you are already protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Click here
to know more about your rights as a temporary Canadian Resident during your stay as a student.
Vancouver generally has a laid-back, do-your-own-thing atmosphere which promotes diversity, creativity and respect for individuality. Like most other cultures, `please`Ã‚Â and `thank you`Ã‚Â and other polite expressions will get you a long way. Canadians also use a lot of idiomatic expressions which you may not be familiar with. For instance, you may hear a Canadian say that something she bought from the store is `steal`,Ã‚Â it does not mean she stole it. It just means she got it at a much lower cost than it is normally worth. It is okay to ask a Canadian what he means rather than guess and risk misinterpretation. When meeting people for the first time, it is customary to shake hands. A common Canadian greeting which comes after `Hello`Ã‚Â or `Hi` is `How are you?`Ã‚Â This question is not necessarily an inquiry into your emotional or physical state and you are expected to respond with a simple, `I am good or `I am fine` and of course, a polite `Thank you`. It is also not uncommon for Canadians to talk about the weather even to strangers. Some newcomers may be surprised when the stranger sitting beside them on the bus or waiting in line with them at the grocery check-out start a conversation. That, too, is not uncommon and perfectly alright unless the person is making you uncomfortable. In that case, you can politely limit your responses and the other person should get the hint that you do not wish to engage in conversation. If the person persists or seems threatening (this is rare), you may walk away or even call for help from persons around you when necessary. Read more about Canadian traditions and customs
There are a number of housing options for International Students who wish to study at Pera College. There are rental apartments, rental rooms, hotels, and others. However, the best option for international students is homestay. Homestay is a special arrangement between the international student and a local host family where the family welcomes the student into their fully furnished home while the student goes to a school. This arrangement is very beneficial for students as their needs are taken care of and they get the bonus of being able to practice their language skills by interacting with their host families. Most homestays will provide their guest with a furnished private room and meals. Other amenities will vary from host to host. You might want to explore the availability of internet access, airport pick-up arrangement, room furnishings, acceptability of house rules, pets, inviting guests, and other details which include, of course, fees. Generally, homestays are a lot cheaper than hotels or apartment rentals.
Vancouver has a very efficient transit system. Almost everything is easily accessible by public transportation. The seabus is a passenger ferry that crosses the Burrard Inlet and takes you from downtown Vancouver to the North ShoreÃ‚Â or North Vancouver in 12 minutes. From there, buses are available to take you to West Vancouver. The skytrain is a driverless light rapid transit system and it boasts of being the longest automated LRT system in the whole world. The skytrain has three lines: The Expo and Millenium Lines take you from downtown Vancouver to the cities of Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey. The Canada Line connects downtown Vancouver to the city of Richmond and to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). All throughout the lower mainland are Translink buses, trolleys and community shuttles that take people to various hubs, skytrain stations and places of interest. People coming from or going to areas east of Vancouver (as far as the District of Mission
) may use the West Coast Express, a commuter rail service. There are also cabs which can be flagged down or phoned to pick up passengers. Most modes of transportation are wheelchair accessible. One very useful tool for getting around Vancouver and the lower mainland is Translink"s website
. It provides you with transit schedules and assists you in planning your trip.
The fare you need to pay for using the transit depends on the number of zones you are travelling. Vancouver and the surrounding areas are divided into three fare zones. Crossing zone boundaries would require additional payment to the basic fare. Ticket vending machines are available on every skytrain station and also on the bus, shuttles and trolleys. A transit ticket is valid for 90 minutes. The same ticket may be used for all types of transport except for the West Coast Express. There are monthly passes, day passes, and faresaver booklets. These may be purchased from fare dealers all over. More information about this can be found by going to the Newcomers Guide to Vancouver
webpage or by clicking on this link
Because of satellite technology, you can now google map
almost all locations in North America and it would provide you with driving and/or commuting directions. The City of Vancouver also encourages walking and cycling. Having no highways cutting through the city makes it possible to walk or cycle to any destination within Vancouver. There are also special cycling lanes and paths on some streets and roads. You may also discover that walking and cycling can be very enjoyable once you consider that many streets are tree-lined and parks are always close by.
All international students, along with family members who accompany them, at Pera College are required to have medical insurance. Without proper medical insurance, medical care can get extremely expensive. Make sure that you and your family get medical coverage. This is something you should do even before you travel to Canada. It is always a good idea to purchase insurance from a Canadian Insurance Company since they know the medical system and are more easily accessible in case of an emergency. There are many insurance companies (such as Manulife
,Pacific Blue Cross
, ,International Student Insurance
and others) that provide relatively short-term medical insurance and they are accessible online. Be sure to compare not only the costs of the premium but also the kind of coverage provided. Your coverage should include ambulance expenses, doctor"s bills, lab tests and hospital rooms. For some tips on travel medical insurance, click here
. As visits to the dentists can also be expensive, you may also want to consider getting temporary dental coverage for the duration of your stay in Vancouver. The most major health insurance providers like the ones mentioned above also provide an optional dental coverage. A quick search a thttp://www.medident.ca
should provide you with a quick listing of dentists within Vancouver.
There are a number of hospitals and walk-in clinics all over Vancouver and the lower mainland. This link provides you with the list of mostpublic and private hospitals
. The nearest one to Pera College is St. Pauls Hospital in Burrard St.
Read more about helpful information on getting medical help
while in Vancouver.
Recreation and Entertainment
With its beautiful outdoors and vibrant and dynamic people, you will never run out of things to do and places to see in British Columbia. BC Parks
provide a useful guide for camping and picnicking for days when the sun is out. They also provide information on hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing and kayaking opportunities, recreation equipment rentals, and programs which are offered in some parks. For those who are interested in snow activities, Whistler offers a long list of possibilities: skiing, snowboarding, heliskiing trips, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, ziplines, back country tours, bungee jumping and even eagle viewing. The list just goes on and on. Visit their website
to plan your Whistler activities.
There are a lot of places that could provide genuine entertainment or recreation even without going very far. There is Canada place
, Stanley Park
, the Historic Gastown
, the Vancouver Aquarium
, Grouse Mountain
, the Science World
, Capilano Suspension Bridge
, Granville Island
, Robson Street
and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens
. About.com provides a listing of the bests in Vancouver such as best restaurants, shopping malls, sports and others
. Moviehouses and theatres are also a few steps away from Pera College. There"s the Orpheum
, Queen Elizabeth Theatre
, Vancity Theatre
and several others.
It is advisable not to carry large amounts of cash of whatever currency with you. Nor is it advisable to leave it in your place of residence. The safest place for your money is in the bank. To open an account, simply walk into any bank, approach any person on the counter and tell that person that you would like to open an account. You will probably be directed to a customer representative who will discuss with you your options. Be sure to have your passport and other forms of identification with you as these are necessary for opening an account. Generally, there are two types of accounts: Savings and Chequing. Be sure to ask the Customer Service Representative to explain the differences to you, especially in the charges. Take a look at the photos and descriptions of Canadian paper money and coins. As a student studying in a foreign country, you would do well to manage your money. Pay your bills early in the month and watch your spending. It may seem faster and more convenient to always eat out but this can soon develop into an expensive habit. There are many bargain opportunities all over Vancouver. Buying second hand items from thrift shops and garage sales is perfectly acceptable. Also, watch out for sales advertised on the local papers. Those things can save you a lot.
Staying in touch with your family and friends back home is easy. Canada Post may be found in numerous locations all over Vancouver. It may also be worthwhile to get a cellphone while you are in Vancouver. Just be sure you do not get one which ties you down to a contract. Compare the prices and the features of the mobile phone service you are getting. A homephone at your residence may also be a cost-effective way of keeping in touch as you do not get extra charges for receiving long-distance calls. There are a lot of home phone providers and again, you have to carefully compare the prices and the features they offer. Long distance calling may also be done conveniently with the use of call cards which are available in most convenient stores. If you are ian homestay, phonecards would probably be your only option. Call cards also help you keep your long distance calls within your budget. High-speed Internet access that allows you to email and chat is available for students of Pera College.