International Student Handbook
- About Saint Mary’s on the International Scene
- Message from Student Services
- Message from International Student Advisor
- Important information about immigration
- Pre-departure checklist
- Transferring money to Canada
- When you arrive
- Saint Mary's International Student Orientation
- What is culture shock
- Personal Safety
- Health Care
- Health insurance
- Achieving a healthy lifestyle
- Climate in Halifax
- What to Wear
- Where to Buy Clothing
- International Student Advisor
- The International Centre
- First Year Information (FYI)
- Conflict Resolution Advisor
- Saint Mary’s University Students Association
- Other Student Services
- North American Culture
- The Liberated Learning Project
- Campus Housing
- Off Campus Housing
- Temporary Accommodations
- Child Care and Schooling
- Shopping for Food
- Getting around the city
- Getting around out-of-town
- Travel insurance
- Getting an International Student Travel Card
- Working while you’re in Canada
- Working after completion of your degree
- How to get a Nova Scotia photo I.D.
- Area Attractions
- Religious Institutions
- About Canadian History and Society
to Canada, to Halifax, and to Saint Mary’s University
Our campus and our city are noted for their friendliness! This Handbook has been prepared as an introduction to life in Canada. We hope that you will prepare for your experience at Saint Mary’s by reading the information contained in this booklet before you arrive.
For an on-line version of this handbook, please see our website at: http://internationalcentre.smu.ca
Classrooms and books are just one aspect of the experience you will have at Saint Mary’s University. You will also make friends and memories that will last for life, and gain new insight into the world and yourself.
Saint Mary’s is a 15 minute walk from downtown, shopping areas, banks, restaurants, and cinemas. The university is surrounded by stately trees in the historic South End of the beautiful port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Founded in 1749, Halifax is a vibrant, cosmopolitan ocean-side city with the second largest natural harbor in the world and a rich and varied history. It is the center for business, research and education in Atlantic Canada. Clean, green, safe streets and friendly Maritime smiles greet visitors to this easily accessible city of over 300,000 people.
Halifax is an academic, medical, research and banking center with more Ph.Ds. per capita than anywhere in Canada. It is home to six universities and a community college. With so many students from across Canada and around the world living in one city, there are lots for students to do! In fact, our sports and entertainment options are practically limitless.
Halifax is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, also known as Canada’s Ocean Playground. On Canada’s east coast, Nova Scotia is only 560 kilometers from tip to tip, but the incredibly scenic coastline stretches for 7,400 kilometers. As an international tourism destination for more than a century, Nova Scotia is famous for genuine friendliness and warm hospitality.
About Saint Mary’s University on the International Scene
Saint Mary’s University puts a great deal of emphasis on the internationalization process and on preparing our students and our community to meet the challenges of globalization. The leadership at the University translates this emphasis into action, encouraging faculty, staff and students to be active globally.
At Saint Mary's, the internationalization process is achieved through a number of linked activities:
- The University is home to more than 1350 international students in both academic and English language preparatory programming.
- New emphasis is being put into "internationalizing" the curriculum.
- Over the last ten years the University has implemented a variety of international corporate training and capacity-building projects totaling in excess of CD$40 million. Partner institutions have been located in five continents and partners have ranged from the Canadian government to international financial institutions to private sector firms and overseas governments.
- Saint Mary's students, faculty and staff participate in international research, study and work opportunities. Saint Mary’s students can participate in an international study abroad program. Study opportunities are in a variety of countries including China, Japan, France, Mexico, Australia, Finland, and South Africa. Information on these programs is available at http://www.smu.ca/administration/international/s_exchange.html.
- Saint Mary’s TESL Centre offers a year-round Intensive English Program that prepares students to study in an English-medium university or to use English for personal or professional purposes. For non-native speakers of English already enrolled in credit programs, the TESL Centre provides part-time courses in English for Academic Purposes.
- Saint Mary’s has an International Centre, housing the office of the International Student Advisor, and a lounge
- Saint Mary's University has a long tradition of international outreach, with projects such as “Education for Environmental Transition” which supports the mining sector in Mongolia in collaboration with the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.
- Finally, the University serves as a centre for attracting international guests -- ambassadors, academics, activists -- who travel to Halifax, enriching the global knowledge of the University and the community.
Message from Student Services
Dear International Student
Thank you for choosing Saint Mary's University to pursue your post-secondary education. We realize this was a very important decision. Please be assured we will do all we possibly can to make you feel comfortable at Saint Mary's. We have a rich international tradition and we invite you to become part of it.
This past year, we welcomed approximately 1350 international students from nearly 90 countries around the world. Their presence and participation in the classroom, in residence and in extracurricular activities enriched our campus culture. We hope you will continue this tradition and make your own mark at Saint Mary's. There are on campus jobs, student government, student clubs and societies as well as recreational activities for your involvement. Getting involved will help you meet new friends, gain practical experience and enrich your life while at Saint Mary's.
All of my colleagues in Student Services encourage you to discover and enjoy all that Saint Mary's has to offer. Check us out on the Web and are sure to come visit us once you arrive on campus.
On behalf of all of us in Student Services, welcome to Saint Mary's and we look forward to your arrival on campus.
Director of Student Services
A message from the Manager of International Student Services
Let me introduce myself. My name is Alana Robb and I am the Manager of International Student Services at Saint Mary’s. It is the job of me and the staff of the International Center to help you make your stay comfortable and productive.
When you come to Saint Mary’s, I hope that you will attend our orientations in September and January. It is a good opportunity to make friends and learn about everything the university has to offer.
With a large and diverse population of international students in degree studies and the Intensive English Program, there are many opportunities to get involved in multicultural as well as Canadian cultural activities. Every international student is automatically a member of the International Students Association, which organizes a wonderful International Night involving great food, entertainment and dancing. So please bring cultural artifacts or clothing from home to enhance our displays. In the second semester there are many special events featuring African, Caribbean, Arab, Indian, Chinese and South East Asian culture.
For Canadian culture, the Centre organizes several inexpensive day trips each year. In October, the University President, Dr. Colin Dodds invites all international students to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Also, anyone on campus over Christmas is treated to a holiday dinner on December 26.
I am looking forward to meeting each and every one of you. The International Centre staff are here to help you and the door to my office is always open.
Manager, International Student Services
Congratulations on your acceptance to Saint Mary’s University! We look forward to meeting you and having you become a part of our student body. The following is a guide to help ensure that you have not overlooked anything before leaving to come to Saint Mary’s.
Important information about Immigration
Detailed information about immigration and application forms can be downloaded from: http://www.cic.gc.ca
Your study permit entitles you to reside in Canada for the purpose of pursuing a course of studies at a university or college. Once you receive your acceptance letter, you should make an application for a Study Permit as soon as possible. This could take up to 4 months especially if you require a medical examination. Once you have met all the requirements, the Canadian Consulate or Embassy gives you a letter authorizing you to receive a Study Permit. When you land in Canada make sure that you show this letter to Canadian Immigration so that you will receive the proper document. The document is yellow and usually stapled inside your passport. Please remember to update your Study Permit. Do not let it expire. You need at least 4 - 6 weeks for processing the renewal. The cost for the Study Permit is $125.00. The International Centre conducts biweekly sessions to help you complete the form correctly.
If your spouse accompanies you, they may apply for a Work Permit to work in Canada.
Temporary Resident Visa
Canadian Immigration requires citizens of certain countries to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) before coming to Canada. When you contact immigration you will be told if you require a TRV. It is a foil sticker that is glued into your passport; the TRV cannot be renewed within Canada. English language students can study English for six months on a TRV without having a Study Permit. However, if they wish to study longer they will have to apply for a Study Permit at a Canadian Consulate OUTSIDE of Canada. The International Centre has the required forms and can give advice to students in this situation.
A pre-departure Checklist
Have you met the following requirements to obtain a Study Permit for study in Canada?
- Your letter of acceptance from Saint Mary’s University
- A valid passport
- Evidence of adequate funds
- A letter from your sponsor, if required
- Medical clearance, if required by Canadian Immigration
- Temporary Resident Visa, if required by Canadian Immigration
- Prepare a budget
- Transfer funds to Canada
- Arrange temporary housing for your arrival
- Arrange permanent housing
- Book your flight early enough to settle in before classes begin
- Send Sign-up form for orientation, arrival and Cyber Pen Pal
- Memorize your student number
- Carry all important documents and money on your person not in your checked luggage
- Bring around $100 cash in case of emergency, otherwise, use travelers cheques
- The Currency Exchange Bureau at the Halifax airport is only open until 20:00 hours. Do not bring large amounts of cash.
- Have your study permit approval letter ready to show immigration officials at the port of entry
- Make sure your luggage is identified in English with a Halifax address.
- Read all materials that you receive. If you have any questions, the International Centre staff will be happy to answer them.
- Register for classes on line.
To enter Canada you will need the following documents. Carry them with you and present them to the immigration officer. Note that you should carry all important documents and money on your person. Do not pack your valuables in your suitcase.
- Student authorization letter of approval from the Canadian embassy or Consulate
- A valid passport
- Your acceptance letter to Saint Mary's University
- evidence of adequate funds
- A Temporary Resident Visa, if applicable
This checklist has been prepared as a guide. It is not a legal document, nor is it meant to be the last word in preparing to depart. No one department on campus can be held responsible for any errors or omissions, or changes of regulation.
Transferring Money to Canada.
Immigration may require you to send money to Saint Mary's before they will approve your Study Permit application. Following is information on how to transfer money to Saint Mary's.
(1) Arrange transfer to the University’s account with the Royal Bank on Summer Street and Spring Garden Road
Royal Bank of Canada
5855 Spring Garden Road
Bank Transit Number: 3413-003
Account Number: 000-011-7
Saint Mary’s University
SWIFT Code (if necessary) ROYCCAT2
Please be sure to specify the name of the student, the student number, and “Saint Mary’s University” in the transfer documents.
When transferring funds, please keep a record of when the funds were transferred, the amount of funds transferred, what bank instituted the transfer, and what currency the funds were in.
(2) Request confirmation from the University
Supervisor, Accounts Receivable
Saint Mary’s University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Phone: (902) 420-5468
Include the student’s file number at the Canadian Embassy and the location and fax number of the embassy. Mr. Latimer will send a fax to the embassy to confirm receipt of the funds in the University account.
Finally, in the unfortunate circumstance that the student is not able to come to Saint Mary’s as planned, the funds will be refunded upon request, minus handling charges if applicable.
You will receive your registration package in June which will contain a Registration Guide. Try to register early before courses are full. Each student accepted to Saint Mary’s will be given a Banner pin number. Use your Banner Pin Number to log on to the Banner Self-Service Page at http://selfservice.smu.ca. Once you have logged into Banner Self-Service you can modify personal information, register for courses, drop/add courses and monitor your progress through courses.
The Registration Advisory Unit will open the last week in June, for contact information visit: http://www.smu.ca/registrar/
Steps to take:
- Use the registration booklet to determine the courses that are required for your degree program.
- The course offerings will be available at http://www.smu.ca/registrar/.
- Consult the University online Calendar for course descriptions.
- Choose courses and make up your timetable to ensure that conflicts do not exist.
- Submit your course selections on line.
- All registrations will take place via the internet.
When You Arrive
When your plane finally arrives in Canada the first person you will meet is the immigration officer. He or she will direct you to the immigration section. This is where you will receive your Study Permit. You should bring a small amount of Canadian cash or Canadian Travelers Cheques with you for use when you first arrive. Banks are normally closed by 5:00 PM in the afternoon and closed on weekends (Saturday and Sunday). They will also be closed on national holidays
Getting to the Campus
Free airport pick up is available for international degree students. In order to take advantage of this service, you must notify the International Centre of your complete arrival information 72 hours before your arrival. Include your airline, flight number, date, and time of arrival. If you arrive in September or January, there is a form available on the International Centre website that can be submitted. You can also fax (902) 420-5288 or phone (902) 425-5525 or email email@example.com.
Students in the Intensive English Program pay a small charge for airport pickup. Contact the TESL Centre at (902)420-5122 (fax) or (902)420-5691 (phone) for more information.
If you are flying across Canada, you will travel through 4 time zones. Not realizing this could cause you to miss connecting flights.
Checking Into Residence
If you are living in Residence, please remember that you must check in on the date designated in your residence letter of acceptance. If you plan to arrive early, you will have to make your own arrangements regarding accommodation until Residences open. Special arrangements are sometimes made for early arrival to attend the International Student orientation in September. Students need to confirm their attendance with the International Centre.
In case you need temporary accommodation upon your arrival, the International Centre will send you a list of various hotels, inns, and bed & breakfasts.
We also recommend that you make an effort to drop by the International Centre soon after you arrive in Halifax, to meet the staff and pick up valuable information.
Saint Mary’s International Student Orientation
In order to facilitate your transition into university life and Canadian culture, the International Centre organizes an orientation for all new international students who arrive before classes begin in September. In January, a shorter orientation is planned. We will hold workshops to discuss a variety of concerns you may be having, from security on campus to how to dress for winter weather. We also plan various excursions to help acquaint you with the city around you. Again, we look forward to meeting all of you!
For more information about orientation go to: http://internationalcentre.smu.ca
What is culture shock?
Everyone who moves into a new culture has to go through a period of adjustment. It is natural that you will experience stress caused by changes in culture, climate, food, and new language. Culture shock is a period of disorientation and anxiety that can cause the following symptoms: homesickness, boredom, withdrawal, excessive sleep, sadness, irritability, and even physical sickness. Know that it is normal to feel these things and that in time you will overcome them.
Generally there are four stages of adjustment.
- Honeymoon stage – everything is new and exciting
- Anxiety stage – How am I going to cope? Here the symptoms develop.
- Rejection or regression stage – many small problems emerge and if not overcome may result in permanent withdrawal.
- Adjustment stage – you learn to cope, accept differences and embrace the new environment.
How you cope with your new environment depends on many things including your age, personality, cultural background and the support that you receive on arrival. If you come from a culture that is very different from Canada and you have never left home before, the adjustment phase could be more difficult.
There are things that you can do to cope more easily.
- If at all possible come to the Orientation, you will make new friends and get adjusted more quickly.
- Remember, you are not alone, this is happening to others.
- Learn as much as you can about Canada.
- Participate in residence and Campus life; join a student society or two.
- Be positive. If something seems strange, difficult, confusing or threatening look for a positive reason why it is happening.
- Let go of your own culture, just a little bit.
- Eat well, get lots of exercise.
- Try to find someone who you can talk to – a Canadian or someone who has lived here for a long time, for example, the International Student Advisor or the Residence Assistant.
Customs with regard to dating (or going out with and/or developing an intimate relationship with someone, usually but not always of the opposite sex), vary widely around the world. It is hard to generalize about dating in Canada, because different regions and different ethnic and religious groups have their own customs.
International students may think of Canada as permissive in terms of sexual relations - and perhaps it is in comparison with some other cultures. Nevertheless, individuals, both women and men, have the right to set their own limits. Someone who agrees to go on a date with you is not saying yes to have sex with you. Everyone has the right to say no.
If you are feeling uncertain about dating, and would like more information, you might wish to talk to the international student advisor or other counseling services on campus.
Source: International Student Handbook. Canadian Bureau of International Education, www.cbie.ca
Halifax is a relatively safe city; however, it is important to be careful. Here are some tips on how to be safe.
- Always trust your feelings
- Get a bank account as soon as possible. Do not carry around large amounts of cash.
- You can rent a safety deposit box at the bank to store important documents such as your passport.
- Do not go out to walk alone at night.
- Do not leave your bag unattended in the library or anywhere else on Campus.
- If you go to the pubs and bars never accept a drink from someone you do not know and never leave your drink unattended.
Threat of Assault
- Scream and run toward a populated area.
- Scream "FIRE". People respond more to "FIRE" than to "HELP".
- Note attacker's identification and report to police immediately after the encounter.
Saint Mary’s has an excellent security system on campus and in residence.
The maintenance of order, conduct and safety on the University Campus is the direct responsibility of University Security. Some of the services provided are:
Dispatch operates on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week and is located on the bottom floor of the MacNally building. Any complaints or inquiries regarding security on campus should be directed to Dispatch. The lost and found is also located at Dispatch.
Husky Van Patrol
From September to April, University Security, in conjunction with the Saint Mary’s University Student Association, provides a safe drive home program known as the Husky Van Patrol. There are two vans that operate Sunday to Friday. For more information visit SMUSA’s website http://www.smusa.ca/huskypatrol.asp
Every night from September to April, University Security operates a campus patrol to maintain the security of the campus. The patrol consists of a two-person team, one male and one female. The patrol is responsible for building and door checks for the entire campus, safe walks and other matters or events that occur in the course of the evening.
Safe walks are an extension of the campus patrol. Students, faculty and guests can request to be walked to cars, residences and homes within a close proximity of the university.
Emergency phones are located all over the University campus. In addition, all payphones on campus are equipped with two red emergency buttons, located on the lower right hand corner of the phone. All emergency phones are directly linked to the Dispatch. Emergency response is available 24 hours, 7 days a week all year long.
Life in Residence
You, Your Room and Your Valuables
- Always lock your door, especially at night.
- Carry your keys. Don't hide them in your suite.
- Take responsibility for your visitors.
- Keep keys on a key chain.
- Report lost or stolen keys to the Residence Department and ask for a lock change.
- Never leave clothes unattended in the laundry room or elsewhere.
- Keep a record of your valuables and engrave where possible.
- Always park your car/bike in well-lit locations.
- Never pack your car with valuables the night before a journey.
You and Your Residence
- Never prop doors open.
- Unprop doors if you find them open.
- Always have visitors sign in at the Residence Desk. They must know your full name, room number and show a picture ID.
- Always refer strangers and solicitors to the Residence Desk.
- Evacuate the building immediately during a fire alarm. Always use the stairs. Never use the elevators.
Obscene Phone Calls
- Do not engage in a conversation with the caller.
- Note the details of the call, time, what was said, etc.
- Report call to the police and/or Residence Security immediately.
Vandalism and Theft
- Always report stolen items to the police and the Residence Desk.
- Always report any acts of vandalism to the Residence Desk.
LIFE IN THE CITY
On the Bus
- If you are bothered on the bus, report the incident to the bus driver and/or Metro Transit.
- Avoid isolated bus stops.
- Use the "Request Stop" service. Drivers will stop as close as possible to your destination.
Out on the Town
- Be alert to your surroundings.
- Never go to unfamiliar places alone.
- Always let friends know where you are going and when you will be back.
- As much as possible, go out with friends, especially when alcohol is being consumed. Watch each other's drinks and never accept drinks from strangers.
- If you suspect that you are being followed, cross the street, head for a store, library, or any building that is well lit and populated.
- Never carry around large sums of money; just enough for emergencies and a taxi or bus ride home.
Student Health Services
Welcome to Saint Mary's University! If you can balance your life to allow for work, physical activity, leisure time, and rest AND if you can maintain a well balanced diet, you may be able to reduce the effects of stress and decrease the possibilities of stress related diseases. If you find that you are not feeling well emotionally or physically, you are encouraged to visit or contact Student Health Services to discuss your health concerns with our nurse or one of our doctors.
Student Health Services is a scent free clinic. Please refrain from using any fragrances or scented hair or body products when you visit the clinic. University life, especially in the first year, brings many changes in daily routine, diet, personal relationships, intellectual activity, and living conditions. Apart from the effects of these various factors on your health, the rate of change itself can result in stress, which can also affect your health.
You don’t have to be ill to visit Student Health Services. We offer information on a variety of physical and psychological health topics such as AIDS awareness, alcohol awareness, nutrition services, environmental illness, attention deficit disorder, alternative medicine, injections, pregnancy tests, prenatal care, and blood pressure tests.
Each academic year between September and April, Mount Saint Vincent University, Dietician and Nutrition students in 4th year hold free nutrition counseling for staff and students. Call Student Health to set up an appointment with the doctor to obtain a referral for this service.
Student Health Services is located on the fourth floor of the Students Center. We provide the same service you would receive from your own family doctor. International students require a AIG Insurance card for the appointment. If you do not have insurance or if your health care card is not up-to-date, you will be required to pay for your office visit. Payment will be due at the time of the visit. Referrals to specialist may be made through the clinic.
There are usually two physicians available (3 on Friday). You are welcome to visit the Registered Nurse (RN) during office hours. You must make an appointment if you wish to see to the doctor. The RN is on call after hours by cell phone for inquiries or advice at 471-8129. The RN writes medical notes, please call 420-5611 for an appointment.
With a doctor’s referral, blood lab work is available on site Tuesday to Friday mornings, 8:40 to 10:00 by appointment. Anonymous HIV testing is also offered.
Confidentially is absolutely assured for all your medical concerns when you visit Student Health Services.
For a medical emergency, please go directly to the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department: 1796 Summer Street or dial 911 (please do not go to the Emergency unless you are very ill). Call the nurse if you need advice on this. There are walk-in clinics available on weekends and evenings as well.
Student Health Centre
4th Floor Students Centre
Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 12:15 and 1:30 to 4:15.
To make an appointment, please call 420-5611.
Jane Collins, Nurse/Manager
Phone: 496-8778 after hour call: 471-8129
Student Health Plan
Student Health Plan Office
Room 524 - 5th floor Student Centre
Tel: 902 496 8754
All international students are automatically insured by the SMUSA Student Health Plan.
The Student Health Plan for international students includes coverage for hospital, medical and surgical care, prescription drugs, physiotherapy, massage therapy, and clinical psychologists. There are a few medical procedures that are not covered, so please check with the Health Plan Office before using your insurance. International student medical fees change each year but usually remain in the $900.00 range. Brochures describing coverage can be picked up by Students at the Health Plan Office or at the information desk on the first floor of the Student Centre, or viewed online at www.smusa.ca.
The coverage starts September 1st for September enrollments and January 1st for January enrollments and expires on August 31. Health Plan cards will be available for pick-up by students at the International Center at the end of October and in February. Students at the Intensive English program will receive their cards at the TESL center each semester.
Students are REQUIRED to use the Health Services Clinic on the 4th floor of the Student Centre for all outpatient services during working hours (9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday). OUTSIDE these hours and on weekends, students are encouraged to go to the nearest Family Focus Medical Clinic (5991 Spring Garden Road) and not emergency.
Students are required to call the toll free number (1 888 756 8428) at the back of their cards before incurring any medical expense out of campus.
International students become eligible for MSI coverage after they have stayed in Nova Scotia for 13 months and 1 day consecutively. Students who satisfy this criterion are encouraged to apply for MSI and save on medical insurance fees. To apply for MSI, call 902 496 7008. This coverage will cease if the student leaves Nova Scotia for more than 31 consecutive days.
MSI is Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance provided by the Provincial Government for free. Students who have MSI coverage may opt out of the MSI equivalent or basic health care portion of the health plan and get those same benefits through MSI; by signing a waiver form at the Student Health Plan office before September 21 for September enrollments, or January 24 for January enrollments.
Students who opt out of the MSI equivalent coverage or basic health plan will still have compulsory extended health care benefits from the Student Health Plan.
Your health insurance will only cover you within Canada.
If you plan to travel outside Canada you will require further travel insurance. If you travel outside the region it is strongly advisable to have travel insurance. Travel insurance may be purchased at travel cuts or from the Student Health Plan Office.
If you arrive in Canada before the start date of your semester, you should have travel insurance before you leave home. Your student health plan will not come in to effect until September 1st or January 1st depending on which semester you enroll.
All full-time students are automatically enrolled into the Student Dental Plan. Those students who have an alternative and comparable dental plan may waive the Student Dental Plan by completing a waiver either online at www.smusa.ca or by visiting the Health Plan Office on the 5th floor of the Student Centre. The waiver deadline is September 21st for first semester enrollments and January 24th for second semester enrollments. The Dental Plan includes such benefits such as Oral Exams, Cleanings, X-Rays and Root Canals all at 70% coverage and also Fillings and Extractions at 50% coverage with the overall annual maximum being $750 per insured.
Male and female professional counselors are available to full and part time students to assist with personal, educational, or career issues in a confidential environment. Counselling is useful for students who want to discuss areas of their lives they want to change.
The counselling office is open year round 9:00am to 4:30pm (420-5615)
Achieving a Healthy Life Style
In a new environment maintaining good health can be a challenge. Some of the ingredients of a healthy life style are diet, exercise, rest and leisure.
Stress is the physical or mental feeling people get when they are under pressure. A certain amount of stress is normal and good, like the normal mental stress associated with learning or the physical stress of a day’s work. Recreation and constructive use of leisure time and rest are important ways to balance the stress we feel from day to day. Try not to let work pile up, and take time off whenever you feel yourself tensing up.
One of the biggest adjustments when you enter a new culture is food. However, we need to eat to live and eating a balanced diet is extremely important for optimum health. Being presented with strange foods in different combination is confusing at first and may result in making poor choices especially if you are not used to cooking.
Health Canada has created a food guide to healthy eating that consists of a variety of foods from four food groups. The number of serving that you eat from each group depends on your age, gender and your level of activity. Most people will need to have more than the lower number of servings.
E.g. Bread, rice, pasta, cereals, muffins
Vegetables & Fruit
Includes pure fruit or vegetable juices
E.g. fresh milk, yogurt, cheese, ice-cream
Meat & Alternatives
E.g. meat, meat products fish, peanut butter, legumes, lentils, tofu
Choose whole grain and enriched products more often
Choose dark green and orange vegetables and orange fruit more often
Choose lower-fat milk products more often
Choose leaner meats, poultry and fish, as well as dried peas, beans and lentils more often
5-12 portions per day
5-10 portions per day
2-4 portions per day
2-3 portions per day
- To ensure that you are getting all the nutrients that you require, a multi-vitamin preparation is recommended.
- If you have dark skin you may require more vitamin D, especially in the wintertime. Milk in Canada is fortified with vitamin D; if you do not drink milk you should consider vitamin D tablets.
- If you do not know what is being served in the cafeteria, do not be afraid to ask the staff especially if you avoid certain foods for health or religious reasons.
- Avoid eating excessive amounts of fried foods, which are readily available on Campus and in fast food outlets in the city.
Exercise goes hand in hand with a balanced diet. Many students become very inactive due to cold weather and a heavy workload. Students often put on weight in their first year at university. It is always best to avoid dieting, as it is not really effective for losing weight. A more successful method for weight control is to eat healthy and to exercise more. At Saint Mary’s you have free access during the academic year to a great athletic center called the Tower. Try to build in daily exercise. The university is located near a beautiful natural park and is surrounded by attractive tree lined streets ideal for walking. Often international students living in residence do not go outside during the winter months thus depriving themselves of much needed fresh air.
Climate in Halifax
Winter extends from December to March. February is the coldest month in Halifax with an average daily high of -6oC and a night time low of -9oC. A heavy winter coat, gloves, and warm waterproof boots are necessary.
Wind chill is the meteorological index that combines the effects of wind speed and temperature. The wind can make you feel much colder than the air temperature might indicate. The reason is that the wind blows away the thin layer of warm air that normally surrounds your body. The stronger the wind and the lower the temperature, the more rapidly you lose body heat.
Summer extends from June to September. August is the warmest month with an average daily high temperature of 22oC and a nighttime low of 13oC. Many people wear shorts and T-shirts and at night they might wear a light-weight jacket or sweater.
Spring is from March to June.
Fall is from September to December.
Temperature during these times can range from 0oc to 20oc. A light-weight rainproof coat is essential. (Usually rainy days are very windy and an umbrella may not be much help to you.)
What to wear
The weather in Halifax requires a variety of clothing. If you are from a warmer climate you should wait to buy your winter clothes in Canada.
To keep yourself warm in the winter you will need the following items: a warm winter coat, winter boots for the snow, warm gloves, a hat that covers your ears, a scarf, warm sweaters, and warm socks.
In the summer you will need light-weight clothing. Here are some suggestions: cotton T-shirts, shorts, pants, skirts, light sweaters and a light-weight jacket for cooler days and evenings.
Canadian students dress comfortably for classes. Most of them wear jeans or slacks. On occasion, students may dress up, especially when they have a presentation to make in class.
Where to buy clothing
There are plenty of places to shop in Halifax. Halifax has several shopping malls. Here are links to the two largest malls Micmac Mall: http://micmacmall.shopping.ca/cambridge/jsp/index_flash.jsp?mallid=mic and Halifax Shopping Centre: http://www.halifaxshoppingcentre.com/ Stores are also located on Spring Garden Road and Barrington Street. To find out the names of the shops look under “shopping” in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. The least expensive time to shop for new clothes is when there is a sale. January is an excellent month to buy clothes because all winter clothes are marked down.
Some second-hand stores are popular places for students to shop. A very popular one is Value Village: http://www.valuevillage.com/ They sell good used clothing at reasonable prices. Some clothes may not have been worn before or some may have designer labels. In any case, all the clothes are in good condition.
Second hand stores also sell furniture and other household goods, tapes, CDs, TVs, stereos, bicycles, and sports items. Yard sales and flea markets, often advertised in the newspaper, are another source of bargains.
The HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) of 13% may not be included on the price tag of items you buy. Most items (including clothing) are taxed; most services are taxed.
For more information on Student Services go to: http://www.smu.ca/administration/studentservices/.
Student Services encompasses the following:
- The Student Employment Centre
Students Centre, 4th floor
Tel: (902) 420-5499
- A variety of cafeterias and fast-food outlets across campus
- Financial Aid Office for Scholarships, Bursaries, Budget Counselling
Students Centre, 4th floor
Telephone number: (902) 420-5609
- Health Services
Students Centre, 4th floor
Telephone number: (902) 420-5611 or 496-8778
Emergency Number: (902) 471-8129
- Chaplaincy (Inter-denominational)
1st floor Loyola building across from Tim Horton’s
Telephone number: (902) 420-5502
- Counselling Services (personal, educational planning, career counseling)
Student Services, 4th floor of the Students centre
Telephone number: (902) 420-5615
- Career Services
Student Services, 4th Floor Student Centre
Telephone number : 902-420-5615
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Career Development Centre
Student Services, 3rd Floor Student Centre Room 302
Telephone number : 902-496-8743
- First Year Advisor
Student Success Coordinator
Student Services, 4th Floor Student Centre
Telephone number: 902.496.8797
- Residence Office
1st floor of the Loyola building near the Residence desk
Telephone number: (902) 420-5598
- International Centre
Students Centre, 3rd floor, room 300
Telephone number: (902) 420-5525, Fax: (902) 420-5288
- University Day Care Centre
Telephone number: (902)429-5329
Atlantic Center of Research, Access and Support for Students with Disabilities
3rd floor of the Students Centre
Telephone number: (902) 420-5452
- Conflict Resolution Advisor
Students Centre, Room 416
Telephone number: 420-5113
- Black Student Advisor
Student Centre Room 513
- Aboriginal Student Advisor
Student Centre Room 513
International Student Advisor
The International Student Advisor provides support, assistance and advice to international students at Saint Mary’s University and strives to ensure that they fully participate in university life. The Centre coordinates an intensive orientation for all new students before classes begin in September and during the first week of classes in January.
Information and assistance is provided to students on immigration, job opportunities on campus, health insurance and benefits, cost of living, scholarships and bursaries, where to seek help for personal problems, etc. The newsletter, Vistas, provides information on matters concerning international students, community events and the international aspects of the Saint Mary’s Campus.
The ISA maintains close communication with international student organizations, coordinating activities and providing advice and assistance where possible.
The International Centre
For more information go to: http://internationalcentre.smu.ca
The International Centre is an integral part of the internationalization of Saint Mary’s. It was created to serve as a resource to the University and as a service for international students. The International Centre houses the office of the International Student Advisor, a lounge, and a collection of cultural artifacts.
The International Centre is a place for interaction between Canadian and International students, a place for programming, discussion, relaxing and reading. The Centre can be made available to student organizations in the evenings for meetings and small gatherings.
The International Centre is located in Room 300 of the Students centre (SUB). It is open Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
First Year Advisor
F.Y.I. (First Year Initiative) is a program that runs throughout first semester and focuses on helping students create partnerships to achieve success as a student at Saint Mary's University. The interactive workshops will give you the necessary tools to meet personal, academic and career goals and will introduce you to other students on the same journey.
What you will learn
• forming Academic Alliances;
• time management techniques;
• how to take proper notes;
• exam taking skills;
• relaxation strategies;
• managing your money;
• career planning;
• university policies;
• ways to get involved on Campus;
• campus resources;
• who to turn for help;
• shifting gears: from high school to university Plus you'll meet lots of other new students too.
A $100 program fee is charged and includes:
• social outings
• Information Session/Luncheon
• prizes and give-aways
• Completion certificates
Students can sign up on line at http://www.smu.ca/administration/studentservices/fyi.html.
Student Centre 4th Floor
Career Services consists of a team of professional counsellors, administrative staff and trained student staff who work to provide students of Saint Mary's a comprehensive package of services related to career exploration and development.
Career Services is located on the fourth floor of the Student Centre and is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday). The Career Development Centre is located on the third floor of the Student Centre. To schedule an appointment please contact us at 420-5615.
Conflict Resolution Advisor
Students Centre Room 416
Office Hours Monday - Friday 9:00 – 5:00
Saint Mary’s University is committed to promoting an environment where students can study and work free from discrimination and harassment. Discrimination and Harassment are against the law in Canada and will not be tolerated at Saint Mary’s.
The Conflict Resolution Advisor assists students who are experiencing forms of discrimination and harassment. Complaints are resolved using a method of conflict resolution called Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Students are encouraged to settle complaints using ADR methods before attempting formal means. However, if a student’s complaint is not resolved to their satisfaction, they may seek the advice and services of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission or take legal action.
If you think you have been discriminated or harassed in any way, please contact the Conflict Resolution Advisor.
Saint Mary’s University’s policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment and Discrimination has three objectives:
1. To prevent discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment,
2. To provide procedures for handling complaints, remedying situations, and imposing discipline when such discrimination and harassment do occur, and
3. To use best practices in Conflict Resolution or Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR).
How can I get more information?
If you think you have been discriminated or harassed in any way, please contact the Conflict Resolution Advisor.
There are pamphlets on related topics available in pamphlet racks on campus and in the office of the Conflict Resolution Advisor.
Financial Aid & Awards
For more information go to: http://www.smu.ca/administration/studentservices/aid.html
Financing post-secondary education is not an easy task. Tuition fees, room and board, books, and transportation; the costs all add up!
Wondering how you can possibly afford university life? The professionals at the Financial Aid & Awards Office are dedicated to helping you, the student, achieve your goals and escape the debt trap. The office provides students with information on:
• Budget planning
• Budget and debt counselling
• Student loans
• Internal scholarships and bursary programs
• External scholarships and bursary programs
• Alternative sources of financial aid
• Educational cost estimates
This site describes the services offered by the Financial Aid & Awards Office, as well as the types of scholarships, bursaries, and government funds available to current Saint Mary’s students and those planning to attend. Students may drop by the office (4th floor Student Centre) from 9:00 am - to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, or call 420-5761.
Saint Mary’s University Students Association (SMUSA)
For more information go to: www.smusa.ca
All students in credit programs are members of the Saint Mary’s University Student Association (SMUSA), the official student representative on campus. SMUSA offices are located on the 5th floor of the Students Centre. SMUSA administers many student societies including nine International Student Associations. In addition to employing over sixty students, the Association employs four full time staff to carry out its daily operations.
Some SMUSA Services:
Students Centre Information Desk
Here is where you can buy bus tickets, bus passes, stamps, phone cards, use the courtesy phone and pick up bus schedules.
The U-Pass is a special bus/ferry pass that provides all full-time students with unlimited access to Metro Transit’s buses and ferries for the academic year, from September through April.
Huskies Patrol Van
The Husky Patrol Program ensures that students who work and study late can get home safe. It is staffed with qualified Saint Mary’s students and operates from Sunday to Friday.
The Gorsebrook Lounge
The newly renovated “Pub” provides entertainment, full bar service and food service at specified times.
SMUSA ensures that Saint Mary’s students receive free admission to regular season athletic events.
Instead of buying new books from the bookstore, you can exchange your used text book with someone else, or sell them online.
Each year Saint Mary’s Financial Aid Officer, in consultation with SMUSA executive, awards bursaries to students in need.
Saint Mary’s Journal
The Journal, a weekly student newspaper featuring all the latest activities and stories on campus, is available free of charge.
There are many societies in which you can become involved, including international societies such as the International Students Association, Caribbean Society, Chinese Society, Japanese Society, and Bermuda Triangle Association. SMUSA’s International Student Representative is elected each year. To find out who the International Student Rep is, contact the International Centre at 420-5525.
Other Student Services
Library Facilities http://www.smu.ca/administration/library/ The Patrick Power Library has over 300,000 volumes and 2,000 periodical titles.
Computer labs (usually open 24 hours a day). The computing environment consists of over 1,000 workstations. There are 10 free general access computer labs for students on campus and each student is assigned a personal E-Mail account.
The Tower http://www.smuhuskies.ca/ Saint Mary’s has world-class recreation facilities including a fitness centre, an all-weather track and field, tennis courts, racquetball and squash courts, sauna and steam rooms and a hot tub, gymnasiums, an ice-skating rink, etc. The Saint Mary’s varsity teams are nationally competitive, especially in football and basketball. All full-time undergraduate and graduate students have free membership from September until May to these facilities. TESL Centre students have free membership year round.
The Writing Centre http://www.smu.ca/academic/writingcentre/ At the Writing Centre, students receive free, one-on-one assistance from peer tutors who ultimately help to enhance overall writing performance. The Writing Centre can also offer its writing expertise to faculty by way of in-class workshops.
North American Culture
A few words about North American culture and customs
The Canadian culture is very similar to the American culture. Canadians have been raised to be individuals rather than part of a close-knit family, religious group etc. They are taught to make decisions at an early age and are encouraged to become independent and self-reliant. Privacy is valued. It is not uncommon for people to live alone.
There is a fu