Planning Your Arrival
When to arrive
Arriving in Canada 2 to 3 days before the beginning of your classes is ideal. You will have time to familiarize yourself with the city and recover from jetlag.
If you plan to stay in Canada longer than six months, you need to obtain a Study Permit. To learn about the visa requirements for your country, please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp for further information.
What to bring
Canada has everything you'll need. However, you might want to bring your cherished personal belongings.
Canada is not cold all year round. In Montreal, we have the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. If you are studying during June and July be prepared for summer, if in August and September be prepared for Fall. If you need to buy winter clothes (coats, boots, thermal wear, hats, sweaters, etc.), you might be better off buying them here to make sure they are suitable for the weather.
Before you leave for Canada don't forget to bring the following important documents with you on the plane:
- passport and visa, if required
- acceptance letter from MILC
- contact information of the family or place you will be staying at
- medical prescriptions
We want to make sure your stay in Montreal is a happy one. The ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Canada requires the school to ensure that insurance companies offer you adequate coverage. MILC requires all applicants to pay for health insurance when registering for full-time study. All international students must purchase the insurance provided by MILC. It is your assurance of adequate health coverage in case of medical emergencies during your time in Canada.
You will obtain your insurance card, an information leaflet and claim forms during the orientation session on your first day of class.
Exception: Students of French nationality obtain their health insurance before they leave. Please inquire at the bureau de la Sécurité sociale.
Most airlines have strict regulations regarding cargo and carry-on luggage. Please refer directly to your airline for complete details.
If you are not arriving directly into Montreal from your country:
- Ask if your connection is out of the same terminal as the flight you arrive in
- Ask if you need to pick up luggage and re-check it - ie. clearing customs may affect time needed for your connecting flight
Keep in mind that it is best to keep all your cash, travelers’ cheques and important documents on board with you and not in your check in luggage. Each year we have students who lose their luggage and are stranded with no documents or cash.
You can arrange for someone to come and pick you up at the airport and drive you to your accommodation. Contact the school to learn more about this service and its fees.
If you would like venture on your own, you’ll find information about how to get to and from the airport on http://www.stm.info/info/747.htm. The STM website has maps and more details about fares and routes.
Your home will be an important part of your experience and comfort. MILC can assist with your accommodation planning and help you make an informed choice.
It is considered polite to give a small gift to someone who offers you hospitality. You might give a gift to your host family. Candies, chocolates or souvenirs from your country are suitable gifts.
You might have to remove your shoes as soon as you enter your Canadian home.
Some families do not put an emphasis on greetings and salutations, so do not be disappointed if your host family does not show a lot of emotion when you arrive or leave.
Meals & Eating
- In Canada, people drink fruit juice, coffee or tea and eat fruit, cereal or toast at breakfast.
- Lunch is often a light meal with soup, a sandwich, a beverage and some fruit or yogurt.
- Dinner is the main meal of the day and it takes place at around 6 p.m. The meal may include meat or fish, vegetables, rice, potatoes or bread, and dessert.
- If you are in a restaurant and want the attention of a server, make eye contact and nod.
Smoking is not permitted in public spaces or in Canadian workplaces, including within 5 metres of doors, windows, and intakes. You should ask permission before smoking in a person’s home.
Canadian Currency (Money)
At the airport, you have many exchange offices that will allow you to convert your money into Canadian currency. It is also recommended to travel with cash for any emergency expense.
A few tips to be aware of:
- Canada’s currency is based on dollars and cents .
- Canada has one-dollar and two-dollar coins, (loonies and toonies), quarters, nickels, and dimes .
- Canada also has 5-cent, and 25-cent coins. The bills in Canada are $5 (blue), $10 (purple), $20 (green), $50 (red), and $100 (brown).
- Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at most Canadian banks.
- Credit cards (VISA, Mastercard and American Express) are accepted for most purchases.
- Some international debit cards (Interac) are accepted.
Ask your bank if your card is valid in Canada, and know your daily withdrawal limit. ATMs (automatic teller machines) are widely available for withdrawing cash if you have a valid credit card or debit card.
When shopping in Canada, the price you see is not the final price! In Quebec there are two taxes the GST (Federal Government Goods and Services Tax) 5% and the QST (Quebec Provincial Sales Tax)9.975%.
Public telephones, mobiles and landlines
The price to place a local call on a public phone is $0.50. In Montreal there are two regional codes, 514 and 438, both preceded by a (1) if you're dialing from another city. To get a mobile or landline, there are many options. To make the best choice for your needs, it is best to do some research before you go to compare prices and special service packages.
Canada uses the nominal tension of 110 volts with an alternating current of 60 cycles. If your country has a different voltage, be sure to get an adapter for your electronic devices. Be sure to inquire what the best solutions are for you. Here is a website link that may help:
Adaptors and converters
*Adaptors allow plugging electronic travel devices in foreign sockets while converters convert electrical tension.
Free daily newspapers
Some papers (such as 24 hours or Metro) are free of charge and can be found on racks in restaurants, bookstores, cafés and other public places, as well as in boxes on the street.
You might notice some difference between Canadian culture and yours during your stay. These tips will help you better interact:
- When Canadians first meet, they often shake hands. No hug or kiss each other on the cheek.
- It’s common to smile or nod if you see someone you know.
- Canadians are very friendly. They will often start a conversation with a stranger even without a formal introduction.
- When Canadians are talking to each other, they will usually leave a space of one meter between them.
- In Canada, people don’t giggle or smile if they are confused or embarrassed. They giggle or smile to show they are happy or amused.
- Canadians dress in informal clothes during their free time.
Tipping is also customary for other service providers such as hairdressers, manicurists, aestheticians and taxi drivers. In these cases the percentage of tip is really up to the individual, but 10% minimum is common.
Study in Montreal
Société de transport de Montréal (STM)