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Transitioning to Canadian University Life

The transition to university is an exciting time, but it can also be challenging for some students, especially when you are moving to a new country and a new learning environment. We are committed to supporting you every step of the way, from the moment you arrive in Canada and at Laurier through to graduation and beyond. There are a variety of resources and programs available to you to help you feel comfortable and part of the community on campus right away.

There may also be words and phrases used at Laurier that you haven't heard before. Our glossary of terms can help you understand these terms.

International Student Advising

Our International Student Advisors (ISAs) are actively involved in supporting your cultural transition, mental health, academic success and career development during your time at Laurier. They are your key contact on campus and can help you acquire the knowledge and skills needed for success and well-being while studying in Canada. 

ISAs can help you deal with challenges related to your academic, social and cultural adjustment and are the frontline support for students who face financial, medical, legal, academic or other crises. They are able to support you and provide information on many areas including procedures and regulations, life skills, academic transition and socio-cultural needs. ISAs attend activities and events organized by Laurier International and are available for drop-in and scheduled appointments.

To learn more about what an ISA can do for you, visit us at the Laurier International offices in Waterloo or Brantford.

You can also meet with an academic advisor for additional guidance and support, and for help developing your academic plan.

Transition Workshops

In response to student challenges, Laurier International developed a series of workshops designed to help students transition to the new academic system and structure of a Canadian university.

These workshops focus on a number of areas that international students will benefit from learning, including note-taking, writing skills, effective reading, critical thinking, group work, effective use of resources, familiarity with academic program, and academic integrity. You can register for these sessions throughout the year. 

Transition Advising Program

Transition advising, also called proactive advising, is a process of engaged and guided self-reflection on your strengths and challenges, and ensures that you are using all the support systems available at Laurier. Proactive advising is for first-year students who are at risk of going on academic probation or being required to withdraw from the university, according to academic regulations. The Transition Advising Program will keep students invested in their studies and help ensure academic success. 

Intercultural and Socio-Cultural Training

Intercultural and Socio-Cultural Training is offered to both international and domestic students to provide understanding and communication across cultures. These programs increase effective and constructive behavioural output, and actively engage you in the practices of the new culture and social setting.

These programs teach appropriate interpersonal interactions in academic, social and career settings, as well as how to apply these competencies for best results in the new culture.

You can take the six-module Intercultural Certificate and, upon completion, receive credit on your experience record.

International Student Academic Transition Program

The International Student Academic Transition Program (ISAT) is a series of workshops designed by Laurier International to help international students adapt to academics at a Canadian university. We have identified common challenges that international students encounter and, using this feedback, created workshops focused on note-taking, reading and group work to help get you back on track.

The ISAT workshops are held several times throughout the year. In order to make attending the workshops as convenient as possible, you're able to pick and choose the workshop(s) that you'd like to attend throughout the year.


In order to be eligible for the program you must be:

  • A registered international undergraduate degree-seeking student looking for support through your academic transition; and
  • A student who has first-year status (including students who are on academic probation after first year).


  • Quicker understanding of university requirements to ensure your academic success.
  • Easier adaptation to cultural differences from an academic perspective.
  • Receive personalized advice and support.
  • Meet like-minded international students within your academic program and from other programs.
  • Become aware of the many academic support services available on campus 
  • Opportunity to earn a minimum $200 bursary.
  • Certificate of achievement.

For more information, contact Candace Stewart-Smith, International Student Academic Transition Advisor, at

Canadian Outdoor

Twice a year, in both the fall and winter, international students have the opportunity to experience the Canadian outdoors through activities such as canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and to learn about Canadian history through Canada’s Indigenous people.

For more information, and to sign up for this event, visit the Laurier International office in Waterloo or Brantford.