Diverse group of students play football together on a sunny summer day; Group of students stop in front of building to take a group picture.

International student life in Canada

The 500,000 international students who come to Canada every year for college and university studies are just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands more travel here to go to elementary or high school, to take part in exchange programs or attend language school. Canada is a great place to grow and thrive as a student.

Discover what Canadians do for fun and what other international students think about Canada. Learn from us and from real students about what it’s like to live, study and work in Canada.

Study environment

What will your life be like as an international student in Canada? Learn about the safe, inclusive, respectful and supportive study environment.

Study environment

Student stories

Hear from other international students about school, life and work in Canada. Watch videos and read their recommendations. Get inspired!

Stories of international students

EduCanada videos

Our Video page is full of great videos about life in Canada for international students. Find out what other international students and scholarship recipients are saying about us.

EduCanada videos

A typical day in a Canadian classroom

If you become a student in Canada, what will your day look like? Much depends on the level at which you are studying. Select your desired level of study to see what a typical day can look like.

Elementary school

Your child will love the interactive and supportive classroom environment available to elementary (primary) students in Canada. From math to science, reading, languages, geography, history and beyond—our teachers excel at creating engaging lessons using the latest techniques. The technology is top notch with classrooms that provide interactive SMART boards, computers and tablets. School subjects go beyond the basics and often involve topics such as robotics, health sciences or 3D technology.

Children get plenty of time for physical activity in gym class and during their recess breaks. Throughout the year, they also participate in educational outings to museums, maple syrup farms, performing arts or theatre, and much more. Many schools offer extracurricular activities outside of regular school hours, including clubs, music, theatre and sports. There are also opportunities for children to showcase their talents at science fairs, music competitions, debates, spelling bees and other special events.

High school

High school life in Canada offers amazing opportunities for your child to learn, grow and be their best. High school is also referred to as secondary school. Our teachers are dedicated and driven to enhance every student’s learning experience. They bring their lessons alive with innovative approaches, technology and real-world opportunities. In addition to math, science, technology, languages, arts, geography, history and economics, students have access to a wide range of courses that may include robotics, aeronautics, pre-university math, international business, environmental studies and much more.

Many high schools offer specialized programs to prepare students for their future careers: entrepreneurship, engineering, law, international affairs, health sciences and outdoor education—just to name a few. There are co-operative education programs that provide valuable workplace experience. Some high schools also deliver International Baccalaureate® and gifted student programs.

Learning also takes place outside of the classroom—whether it’s a week spent attending university classes to discover higher education options, a visit to the science and technology museum, an overnight outdoor adventure excursion or a trip to Quebec City to experience French Canadian culture.

Student life is another important part of the high school experience in Canada. Every school has a wide range of sports and clubs available before, during and after school. These often include music, theatre, special interests (chess, math, gaming), team and individual sports, and student council. Your child will thrive by getting involved.

University or college (undergraduate)

Higher education in Canada encompasses college and university. Each offers unique opportunities for learning and growing. At college or vocational school your days will be filled with career-focused learning in a very practical way. In addition to attending classes, this might involve shooting and editing your own videos in broadcasting or working with patients if you want to be a dental hygienist. You might spend the day designing and constructing kitchen cabinets if woodworking is your career choice. In short, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice your skills in real work environments.

At university, your days will include lectures and labs, tutorials or workshops. This variety is what university life is all about, giving you a mix of learning and doing that will help prepare you for your future career. Your professors and instructors schedule office hours for students, so you can meet with them to discuss assignments or questions. Each class also has at least one teaching or lab assistant—usually a graduate student in your field who is also available to provide extra learning support to students.

Graduate or postgraduate (Master’s degree and PhD)

As a graduate student in a master’s, PhD or doctoral program in Canada, you will attend classes and spend much of your time doing original research or field work for your final research project, thesis or dissertation. You’ll thrive under the expert guidance of Canada’s renowned professors, researchers and instructors. You may also work on campus as a teaching, research or lab assistant.

At every level of higher education in Canada, student life is a huge part of your experience. College and university connect you with friends and colleagues who will remain valuable contacts throughout your career. You’ll likely enjoy a fun and active social life—whether it’s meeting friends for coffee, going out to pubs or clubs, experiencing your city outside of school hours, or travelling around Canada during your study breaks with friends.