Frequently Asked Questions

This information is tailored to suit students coming to the University of Alberta from Africa. However, it is generally applicable to many international students. More information will become available; this is just a small sample. Feel free to email for more information or any questions you may have.

1. COMING TO CANADA: What do I need to know?

  • Warm clothes if you are traveling after September. Big fluffy jackets will not do. Rather buy clothes that you can wear in layers. Nice cotton t-shirts, jackets with fleece and nice sweaters should suffice. You can also get a nice warm.
  • Get your computer skills spruced up. Most of your work will involve a fair amount of computer knowledge including how to use the internet.
  • Even if you have a scholarship from the university, plan to have some small amount of money with you for emergencies and other expenses for the first month or plan ahead of time with your department or supervisor for an advance.
  • Be sure to arrange for accommodation immediately you receive acceptance to the University. Contact AFSA for help if need be.

2. FOOD: Can I get home food in Canada?

  • Learn how to cook. It is possible to buy various international food items from big grocery stores here. Generally, the food here is not your standard African food, so get to know those burger, fries, fastfood locations in your city and get used to that kind of food. There is a variety of international foods that are also available and you may have to be adventurous to find your niche.

3. How I get to the University from the airport?

  • You can contact AFSA before your arrival in advance so that someone can pick you up on your arrival date.
  • You may take a taxi from the airport to the university and it costs around $35-50.
  • You could also take the Sky shuttle bus from the airport to the university. It costs around $15 for a one way trip.
  • Remember to have Campus Map handy so as to be able to effectively nagivate your way around.

4. How do I get around the city?

  • Edmonton has a good bus transport system (Edmonton Transit System) where you pay money as you get into the bus. You need to have exact fare (currently $2.25) which you drop into a little box by the driver, and you get you pass/ticket/coupon that is good for 90 minutes on any bus route or train. There is also a train from the university to the northern end of the city. You may buy a bus pass for a whole month or a ticket book if you don’t use the transit system that much. If you want to obtain a car, you need to have an international drivers license or do an exam to get a drivers license.

5. MONEY MATTERSCan I work my way through university?

  • The myth that you can work to pay for your university expenses does not hold up here, especially as an international student. This can make you drop out of school because it is extremely hard to pull off. Ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses. There are jobs available on campus for students and recently the government has allowed international students to apply for work permit (effective sometime this summer) but don't count on this to pay for tuition, which is quite a hefty sum. The income from occassional jobs are important for other expenses.
  • Fees and tuition will be as shown in your letter of admission.
  • Housing: Rent can cost anything from $300 a month to over $600 depending on your whether you can live in a shared apartment/house or whether you want to live alone in a 1 bedroom apartment. If sharing a house/apartment count on around $350 per month. Living Off-Campus would mean that you will be traveling by bus/train, so you need to factor in $60 per month for the bus pass. Other miscellaneous expenses food, leisure, clothing (about $400 if cooking at home and this is very modest). You need at least $16,000 per year all inclusive.

6. What to do once you get here?

  • Meet the HOD/international student advisor/advisor/graduate supervisor.
  • Register for courses that they suggest. This can also be done immediately you receive your student number before you come over.
  • Get your University ID card (one card) from the One Card Office (though this is possible only after you register for courses).
  • Open your bank account and apply for a credit card. Many banks usually hesitate to give a credit card to international students because they don’t have your credit history. However, don’t be dissuaded by that, apply.
  • Apply for your Social Insurance (SIN) card (if applicable) and Alberta Healthcare (ask around about this).
  • Relax and enjoy the weather (assuming you are coming for the fall session). Brace for the cold.

Call/e-mail the AFSA and let us know that you have arrived safely.

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© African Students Association                              Last Update: Jan-7-2007