Ways to Make Friends and Learn About Canadian Culture

By University of Waterloo Modified on January 12, 2019

Studying in Canada isn’t just about going to class and working on assignments.


Much of what you’ll learn in university and remember after you graduate will happen outside the classroom. Living in residence is a great way to meet students from Canada and from other countries. Simran, an international student at the University of Waterloo, says“the culture gap in addition to experiencing a whole new country where I didn’t really know anyone was truly intimidating.”

Through residence, Simran met people who became her best friends. They helped her overcome the culture gap, albeit after having fun with her unawareness of certain things that are “so Canadian” like ketchup-flavoured chips.

Another benefit to living on campus is that research shows students who live in residence in first year have higher graduation rates and slightly higher GPAs than students who live off campus.

Being in residence also means there are always lots of people around. You can easily find friends to form study groups, go to the gym, watch movies, or head to a campus coffee shop.

Joining clubs is another way to meet lots of people. Most universities and colleges will have dozens if not hundreds of student clubs. Explore one of your current interests in depth or discover something you’ve never tried before. Animal rights? Hip hop? Hiking and camping? Coffee lover? You’re bound to find a club you like.

Many universities offer services specifically for international students, such as peer mentorship programs that connect Canadian and international students and give upper-year students leadership opportunities. These programs build friendships while easing the transition to a new school, city, and culture and promoting cross-cultural learning.

The size of the city surrounding the university will really affect your experience in Canada. Do you want huge bustling cities or do you prefer smaller communities that are more focused on students? Do you want a lot of night life or more opportunities to connect with friends on campus?Either way, your campus experience will depend on you and whether you put yourself out there.

Most first-year students are the same, arriving at a new campus without knowing many people –or anyone! Everyone has the chance to make their campus experience what they want. What will your experience be like?