My top advice for UBC exchange students…

  1. Accommodation

Here’s the pros and cons for living on/off campus:

Halls

+ Application: Quick and simple to apply online

+ Location: very convenient as near to learning spaces, gym, restaurants, cafés, bars, beaches and forests.

+ Social life: Easy to meet other exchange students

–  Location: 1 hour bus journey from downtown

–  Social life: Most of my friends found their flatmates to be unsociable as they were second/third-year undergraduates who were less keen to hang out due to already having friendship groups established.

–  Cleaning checks and quiet hours were strictly implemented limiting student’s independence

IMG_20190213_092544.jpg
Snowy view from Walter Gage

Private renting off-campus

+ Application: Use facebook groups ‘UBC students looking for roommates, housing rental/sublet’ or ‘UBC Incoming Exchange 2019/2020’ to find roomates and accomodation availability – beneficial as you can speak to people before agreeing to live with them.

+ Location: Living in a nice neighbourhood e.g. Kitsilano, Kerrisdale, Strathcona.

+ More freedom e.g. to have groups of friends round

– Cost: Usually more expensive than cheapest UBC accomodation (Walter Gage/Fairview), although not always so worth a look!

–  Roomates: they might end up being much older and less likely to hang out due to work commitments

–  Location: Hard to find cheaper accomodation less than 40mins bus ride to university campus.

  1. Working in Canada

If you’re planning on getting a job whilst abroad here is some crucial information you’ll need to know:

  • Your study permit allows you to work on-campus only
  • When you get to immigration at YVR, state you need the permit to say “may accept work in Canada” otherwise you won’t be able to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and therefore won’t be able to get a job. Sometimes immigration are not aware of this so print off evidence for this as stated on the governmental website (https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/sin/reports/apply.html). – I was unable to get a job because of this complication and was refused multiple times to have this condition added to my study permit. If you are unable to get this added at immigration take your visa to UBC’s international student support office and they will help you amend this.
  • Apply for jobs as soon as you can as they’re high demand. The best way is to physically hand out your CV and availability to food and drink vendors on campus.
  • Apply to as many places as possible and don’t turn down an opportunity until you’ve secured a job – I found many places offered trial shifts to lots of applicants despite there only being a few positions available.
  1. Banking

I advise ordering a Monzo MasterCard (https://monzo.com/) at least a month before heading to Canada as opposed to getting a Canadian bank card. Monzo is beneficial because:

  • it allows you to spend your GBP abroad at a good exchange rate without charging international fees
  • you can easily keep track of your spending through the mobile app and create monthly budgets

The only case you may need a Canadian bank card is if you’re working abroad and you can apply for a bank card on campus at RBC.

  1. Mobile Phone 

There are a number of phone companies you can get monthly-paid or pay-as-you-go sim cards. Bear in mind all of them will be considerably more expensive than in the UK.

  • For pay-monthly packages I recommend using Fido: Student Packages provided at WirelessWave on campus for $40/month (4gb data + domestic and international calls/texts).
  • Otherwise go to Best Buy in town to find the cheapest phone deals.

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