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Moving to Canada

Whether you are an international candidate or an incoming exchange student, moving to Canada is an exciting but complex process. Here are some helpful tips and resources to help you prepare.

Preparing to Come

Learn about Canada

Read about Canadian history, politics, geography, weather and economics. You’ll appreciate your time here more if you know what to expect. Visit the Centre for Intercultural Learning to learn more about Canada.

Preparation Checklist

  • Apply for your study permit.
  • Pay your tuition fee.
  • Make travel arrangements: book your flight to come to Canada and arrange for transportation between the airport and London.
  • Find a place to live, including temporary accommodation if you plan on arriving early.
  • Consider housing options.
  • Make banking arrangements (transfer/wire money, get bank draft, get credit card, exchange money).
  • Create a budget plan.
  • Activate your Western email account.
  • Pack and bring your essential documents.

Money for Travel

It is recommended that you bring with you cash in small denominations when you first come to Canada in order to have cash upon arrival. You should have at least enough for immediate needs upon arrival such as food and accommodation for the first week. It is not advisable to carry large amounts of cash.

You may also be able to use your debit card (bank card) to take out money from your home banking institution.

Some initial expenses you should be prepared for upon arrival:

  • Food
  • Temporary accommodation, such as hotel, if you don't have a pre-arranged place to stay. If you will live in an apartment, you will typically have to pay two months' rent up front (first and last month).
  • Set up charges for your utilities such as hydro (electricity), gas, phone, cable, internet, etc.
  • Initial purchases, such as towels, bedding, toiletries, furniture, etc.
  • International calling card to call home.

Your Western Email Account

All students at Western University are assigned a free Western email account. Once you activate your account, you will have the option of changing your password.

Fee payment information as well as your UHIP card instructions will be sent to your Western email account only.

Your Ivey Email Account

Ivey assigns all students an Ivey email address that can be used forever. It is not a mailbox at Ivey, but rather an email forwarding service called Lifelong Email Address Forwarding (LEAF). LEAF will forward messages sent to your Ivey email address to any external email account you designate as long as that email account is active.

Travelling to London

If you travelling to Canada by air, we suggest you make Toronto (not London) your final destination. There are a variety of options to get to London from the Toronto airport, including bus, train, and car.

London is located approximately a two hour drive southwest of Toronto. London is also a two hour drive north of the United States border.

By Air

You can catch a connecting flight from Toronto to London's airport. From the London Airport you can take a taxi to London's downtown/university area.

The cost of the taxi is approximately $25-$35 plus tip (usually 10-15% of the price charged). Some taxi companies have discounted rates for students. When booking your taxi, ask the company if they have a discounted rate.

You can also get to the University by car by following Oxford Street west. Turn right (north) on Richmond Street. Turn left (west) on University Drive at Western's main gates.

By Bus

A less expensive alternative to flying into London airport is to take an airport bus service from Toronto to London. This service is provided by RobertQ. They also service Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

A one-way ticket from Toronto to London on the RobertQ airbus costs approximately $54.62 for students (you must have proof of student status - a letter of acceptance or a student card). You don't have to make reservations ahead of time, but they do recommend it.

At Toronto airport, RobertQ can be found in Terminal 1 and 3 at the ground transportation desk. In Terminal 2, which is the international terminal, you can find a RobertQ desk outside of the area where you pick up your luggage.

RobertQ Airbus & Courier
105 Wharncliffe Road South, London, ON
Telephone (reservations information): 519-673-6804 Tel: (toll free from Canada & USA): 1-800-265-4948 Fax: 519-679-5406
Email: airbus@robertq.com
Web: http://www.robertq.com

By Car

From the East or South on Highway 401

  • Follow Highway 401 to Wellington Road/Exeter Road Exit (#186).
  • Take the Wellington Road branch and head north, passing through downtown, to Pall Mall street.
  • Turn west (left) onto Pall Mall and proceed one block to Richmond Street.
  • Turn left onto University Drive at the University Gates.

From the West

  • Follow Highway 401 to Wonderland Road Exit.
  • Take Wonderland Road to Wharncliffe Road. Turn right (north) on Wharncliffe Road.
  • Follow Wharncliffe Road north past Oxford Street, where it turns into Western Road.
  • Follow Western Road past Sarnia Road to the University Gates at Lambton Drive.
  • Turn right (east) onto campus.

From the North

  • Follow Highway 4 south to the Richmond Gates on University Drive.

Driving in Ontario

If you intend to drive in Canada, you should obtain a valid International Driver's License in your country before coming to Canada. It will be valid for 60 days from the day you enter the province. After 60 days, an Ontario driver's license is required.

For more information please contact the Ministry of Transportation or visit DriveTest.

Living in London

Housing

There are two main options for student housing in London:

Live in Student Residence

Student residences on campus are primarily for first year university students (17-18 year olds), but there are some options available in upper years as well. There are limited spaces in on-campus residences for visiting exchange students.

Live Off-Campus

Off-campus housing is also widely available in London.

Western University provides some great resources for those looking for a place to live. Additionally, these resources are a good place to find housing:

Apartment Insurance

If you rent an apartment, it is recommended you get apartment insurance. Any of the major insurance companies provide apartment insurance, including:

Electricity in Canada

In Canada, electricity is 120 volts, 60 cycle alternating current (AC), and electrical outlets use a two-prong plug. The prongs on the plug are rectangular, not circular. Depending on which country you are from, you may require a:

  • Plug adapter: If your electronic devices do not fit into Canada's two-prong electrical outlets.
  • Transformer: If your electrical devices require more or less than 120 volts of electricity.

Banking

Open a Bank Account

When choosing a bank in Canada, there are a few things to consider:

  1. You will need a bank that easily allows money to be transferred from your bank at home to your account here in London. Before you leave your home country, ask your home financial institution if they have connections with any banks here in Canada.
  2. You will want to find a bank that offers reduced student rates. After you have decided on a bank, you will need two pieces of identification. Make sure that you bring your passport and another piece of photo identification with you to open a bank account, such as your Western Student ID card or a credit card.

If you are looking to open a bank account while here, the TD bank near Western's Richmond Street gates indicates that international students need only a passport to open an account at that particular branch because of its proximity to the university. Two days after opening the account you can get a bank draft or do a bill payment directly to the university.

Transfer Money to Canada

In order to transfer money from your home country you must first open a bank account in Canada. If you wish to transfer money to Canada you may want to come to Canada with bank drafts from home and open a bank account with this money when you arrive in London.

A bank may accept bank drafts, cheques, or letters of credit. However, money may not be released until it is cleared by the home financial institution. This process may take a few days or a few months.

Healthcare

Mandatory University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP)

The University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) is a mandatory health insurance plan for all international students and their dependents (spouse, partner and/or children) who are here in Canada and they must be enrolled in the program.

UHIP covers medical and hospital expenses during your stay in Canada such as: physician's services, diagnosis and treatment or illnesses, surgery, X-rays, hospital services and emergency dental care in a hospital.

Services that are not covered by the plan include: charges for dental care not approved by the plan, eyeglasses, and prescription medication. Make sure to thoroughly read the description of coverage to ensure that you understand the details of the plan.

Coverage

UHIP coverage begins the day you arrive in Canada, but not earlier than 20 days prior to the beginning of the month in which your program starts. Soon after arriving at Western, and paying your student fees, you will receive an email to your Western email account directing you to a website where you will be able to download and print your UHIP card.

It is important that you carry your UHIP card with you at all times.

For details about the coverage, please visit UHIP.

Hospitals and Medical Clinics

Please see the UHIP website for a list of preferred hospitals and clinics.

Western University Student Health Services

Doctors and nurses are available at the http in Room 11, lower level, of the University Community Centre.

Medical Clinic: 519-661-3030
Counselling: 519-661-3771

Hospitals

Hospitals in London include:

  • University Hospital
    University Campus, 339 Windermere Road, London, ON N6A 5A5
  • Victoria Hospital
    800 Commissioners Road East, London, ON N6A 4G5
  • St. Joseph's Health Centre
    258 Grosvener Street, London, ON N6A 4V2

Medical Clinics

There are many medical walk-in clinics in London. Here are a small selection:

  • Oxford Medical Walk-in Clinic
    102-140 Oxford Street East 519-433-4999
  • Wharncliffe Medical Walk-in Clinic
    201-240 Wharncliffe Road North 519-435-0111
  • Hyde Park Medical Walk-in Clinic
    640 Hyde Park Road 519-641-3627
  • Commissioners Medical Walk-in Clinic
    1 Commissioners Road East 519-668-2400

Weather

There are four seasons in Canada: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Weather in London can be unpredictable and there can be sharp changes in the same day.

For daily weather forecasts in London, visit the Weather Network.

Fall (September to November)

The Fall season begins in September and the weather can be cool and rainy, but it can also be hot like the summer. A sweater, light coat, lined jacket, and rain coat are good ideas.

Winter (December to February)

The Winter season officially begins in December, but snowfall could start as early as October and last until April. January and February are the coldest months where the temperature can range between -2C and -10C with an average temperature of -6C.

The wind chill factor is important. Blowing winds can lower the temperature considerably.

You will need a good winter coat that is both water and wind resistant. It is also recommended to have warm, water-resistant boots, mittens/gloves, a scarf, and a warm hat. You may want to purchase some of these items after you arrive in London to ensure they are appropriate for the weather here.

Spring (March - May)

Spring usually begins in March and is an unpredictable season of changing temperatures with a mixture of rain and sunshine. A sweater, light coat or lined jacket will be needed. A raincoat, rain boots, and umbrella are also useful.

Summer (June - August)

The Summer season starts in June and is warm and sunny with temperatures ranging from 20C to 40C. It can be hot and humid from June to August, sometimes May and September as well.

Humidity in Southwestern Ontario is higher than elsewhere in Canada. Shorts, t-shirts, and sandals will keep you cool.

Temperature in Classrooms

All buildings have central heat and air conditioning which is thermostatically controlled. Temperatures in the classrooms can vary, so it is best to wear layers.

Shopping

There are many great options for shopping in London.

Malls and Plazas

There are two big shopping malls and two small shopping malls in London.

Masonville Mall Richmond Street and Fanshawe Park Road (close to University)
White Oaks Mall Wellington Road South (south end of London)
Sherwood Forest Mall Wonderland and Gainsborough Road (close to University)
Westmount Mall Wonderland Road South (west end of London)
Cherryhill Mall Oxford Street and Platts Lane (close to University)
Argyle Mall Dundas Road and Clarke Road (east end of London)

Department Stores

Walmart Fanshawe Park Road and Hyde Park Road, White Oaks Mall, Argyle Mall
Sears Westmount Mall
The Bay Masonville Mall, White Oaks Mall
Costco Wonderland Road and Oxford Road, Wellington Road and 401

Grocery Stores

Some grocery stores have discounts for students on certain days of the week.

Metro Sherwood Forest Mall, Wellington Road, and various other locations.
Loblaws Masonville Mall, Wonderland and Commissioners, and various other locations.
Food Basics Various locations in London.
No Frills Various locations in London.
Real Canadian Superstore Oxford and Hyde Park, Oxford and Gammage, various other locations.

You can also order groceries online at Grocery Checkout. An express version of Grocery Checkout is also available in the basement of the University Community Centre.

Ethnic Food Stores

United Supermarket (Asian Food) 1062 Adelaide Street
Westmount Halal Food Store Westmount Mall
Superking Supermarket Westmount Mall
Food Island Supermarket Oxford Street (close to University)
Festival Food-Mart (Indian Food) 456 Southdale Road East
Latino Market 470 Dundas Street East

Furniture Stores

Sears and Sears Home Westmount Mall, Wharncliffe and Commissioners
Leon's 947 Wharncliffe Road South
The Brick 1040 Wharncliffe Road South
Tepperman's 481 Wharncliffe Road South
Sleep Country Canada Various locations in London
Ikea (Pickup Depot) 3198 Wonderland Road South

Used Furniture

Value Village 1500 Dundas Street, 4465 Wellington Road South
Goodwill Sherwood Forest Mall, 3410 White Oak Road, 255 Horton Street East
Talize 1345 Huron Street

Electronics

University Computer Store Lower level of University Community Centre
Best Buy Masonville Mall, White Oaks Mall
Canada Computers 1045 Wellington Road South
Apple Store Masonville Mall

Telephone Providers

Some people prefer to have their cell phone as their primary phone, while other people prefer to have a land line at their home and also a cell phone.

Rogers Fido
Bell Koodoo
Telus Freedom Mobile

Internet Providers

Bell Internet, television, and phone
Rogers Internet, television, and phone
Fido Internet and phone
Start Internet and phone
Teksavvy Internet and phone

Laundry

If you are renting a home, there is usually both a washing machine and clothes dryer in the house.

If you are renting an apartment and there is no washing machine or clothes dryer in your apartment, there is usually a laundry room in your building with numbers coin-operated washing machines.

If you do not have access to any laundry machines, a laundromat may be an option. Laundromats have many coin-operated machines and often have ironing equipment and dry cleaning services as well.

Some laundromats in London:

Comet Laundrynet Cafe 120 York Street
The Laundry Cafe 590 Oxford Street
Tommy Suds Laundry and Cafe 79 Commissioners Road West

Some dry cleaners in London:

Orr Cleaners 595 Fanshawe Park Road
Fresh 'N Press 405 Wharncliffe Road South
Texmain 326 Springbank Drive

Tips for Shopping

  • Hours of Operation
    Most malls are open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and are open Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Some stores are not open on Sundays. Small neighbourhood convenience stores are often open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, convenience store prices are higher. Some grocery stores are also open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Cash or Charge
    Large grocery stores may accept credit cards for payment, while small grocery stores may accept only cash of debit cards. Retail stores accept credit cards, debit cards and cash.
  • Taxes in Ontario
    The tax rate on most items in Ontario is 13%. There are some exceptions (food, children's clothing).
  • Tipping
    It is appropriate to tip approximately 15% of the bill in a restaurant, taxi, or a service such as hair stylist. Fast food restaurants do not allow tipping. Airport and hotel attendants are tipped according to service rendered and your satisfaction.
  • Prices
    The price marked is firm. Bartering is not a part of the North American retail system. However, you will find bartering at Saturday and Sunday garage sales and yard sales.