New Student Guide
Congratulations on your acceptance to College of the Rockies! We are looking forward to welcoming you to your new home in Canada. We have created this step-by-step guide to help you prepare for your upcoming adventure.
Please contact the International Office, if you need any assistance along the way.
Most international students require a valid post-secondary study permit (“student visa”) to study at College of the Rockies. Find out if you need one. It can take several months, so it is important to apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your official Letter of Acceptance.
Students from certain countries need an entry visa (Temporary Residence Visa) in order to enter Canada. This means that in addition to applying for a study permit some students must also apply for an entry visa (Temporary Residence Visa). Ask your nearest Canadian embassy if you will need this and how to receive it. An entry visa is a stamp/seal in your passport and not a separate document.
Prepare for Classes
Whether you are studying in Canada or beginning your program remotely from your home country, you will need to get a computer, check your course schedule, find out what course materials are required and complete our online orientation before the start of classes.
Laptop or Desktop Computer Requirements
All students must have access to a reliable, high quality internet connection and a laptop/desktop computer capable of performing all the functions required for online learning. View the minimum recommended computer specifications.
Register and Check your schedule
Once you have notified the International Office of your study permit approval, you will be invited to complete our course registration form. We will notify you when you have been registered. At the same time, you will receive a separate email with a temporary password for AccessCOTR, where you can check your class schedule.
Our online Textbook Calculator is available approximately one month prior to the start of the semester to determine what course materials you may need. We cannot confirm materials or costs for future semesters as course materials are adopted by faculty on a semester by semester basis and often change.
- Your name and student number
- A list of which books you want to purchase
- Your full shipping address and phone number
- Do NOT email credit card information! We will contact you to confirm your order and then arrange for payment.
Shipping is via courier (not post office) which usually takes a few days to reach most Canadian locations, and two weeks for most International shipments. You will need to provide a safe address where someone can sign for the shipment when it is delivered.
Should you be seeking a fully digital option due to distance, please ask your Instructor if they have a link to any online options.
Note that the bookstore sometimes has used books available for about 75% cost of new.
Mark your calendars! New international students are required to attend our International Student Orientation the week before the start of classes. The orientation program provides information on academics, college resources, working and living in Canada, and a student discussion forum.
Plan Your Travel
For more detailed information regarding travelling to Canada, click here.
Students studying in Golden, Invermere or Fernie should contact their campus office for assistance in arranging travel.
All other students should plan to arrive in Cranbrook prior to the start of Orientation. Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC), with daily flights to Calgary and Vancouver, is located just 15 kilometers from our Cranbrook Campus.
It is important that you complete our Arrival Form as soon as you have finalized your travel plans (and no later than five business days before arrival). Homestay Students will be met at the airport by their host family. All other students whose flight arrives at YXC before 9:30 PM may use the arrival form to request our free YXC airport pickup.
Additional ground transportation options are listed under the Arrive in Canada section.
Pack Your Bags
When packing for your college experience, keep the following in mind: the less you bring, the more you can take back. Airlines have very strict baggage limits and will charge penalty fees if you exceed them. The Canadian Border Services Agency has information on which goods you can bring across the border and a list of alcohol and tobacco limits.
Keep these important documents on you at all times. Do not put them in your checked luggage. Make a digital copy as a backup.
- Entry visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), if applicable
- Study permit approval letter
- Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from College of the Rockies
- Proof that you have enough money to support yourself in Canada
- Health insurance card
- Flight itinerary
- List of items that will arrive after you, if sending anything separately
- Immunization and medical records (optional)
- International driver’s license and/or valid driver’s license, if applicable (optional)
People dress casually in Cranbrook. Keep in mind the season when packing. Summer wear can include shorts, long pants, t-shirts and a warm sweater or sweatshirt, bathing suit, running shoes and dress shoes, and a light, weatherproof jacket. Winter wear should include a warm winter jacket and water-resistant winter boots with good tread, warm hat and gloves, long pants, jeans, sweaters and sweatshirts. In fall and spring, you may experience a wide range of weather, with the average temperature around 15 degrees. There is a possibility of snow in Cranbrook anytime from October through April. If you choose to bring traditional or ceremonial clothes from your home country, you will likely have the opportunity to wear them at International Education events.
Only small bottles of soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other toiletries need to be packed as they can be easily purchased once you arrive. If you are particular about toiletries and other personal care items (such as feminine hygiene products), bring enough to last your entire stay.
If you require prescription medication, try to bring enough to last the duration of your stay. It is also a good idea to consult your doctor about the active ingredient in the medication and get a prescription for the Canadian equivalent that can be filled at a pharmacy in Canada. Be sure to bring spare prescription glasses and/or contact lenses as well as a copy of your prescription.
For your protection, we recommend that you write down all of the serial numbers for your electronic devices (cameras, laptop, cell phones, etc.). Keep this list with you while traveling. Electricity in Canada is 120 Volts (V), alternating currency (AC). We use the North American-style “two flat prong” plug, with the option of a third prong for grounding. You may need to buy adaptors or transformers for your electronic devices.
Arrive in Canada
For more detailed information regarding travelling to Canada, click here.
If you did not request our free airport pickup service or pickup by your host family, there are ground transportation options available at Cranbrook airport (YXC) upon arrival:
The Airporter shuttle service operates seven days a week, before and after most scheduled flights. The shuttle will be waiting at the airport to drive arriving passengers to the hotel or motel of your choice in Cranbrook for a flat rate of $20.
Taxis usually cost around $45 from Cranbrook airport to downtown Cranbrook. In Canada, it is common to give a tip to the driver. The tip should be 15-20% of the total cost. To arrange pickup, you can call/text Star Taxi at 250-426-5511 from Cranbrook airport or email email@example.com 1-2 days before your arrival. A pay phone is available in the arrival area.
Set your watch to Mountain Time (MT) when you arrive. Try to stay up until your normal bedtime. If you must nap, set your alarm and limit naps to 30 minutes or less. Spend as much time as possible outside in the fresh air. Drink lots of water and fluids – do not drink alcohol, it prolongs the effects of jet lag.
All students are required by law to have medical insurance for the duration of their studies. The International Office will assist you in arranging insurance coverage and booking medical appointments when you are ill. Learn more.
While attending college can be an amazing time of new experiences, it is common to feel anxious, stressed, worried or homesick. Students can speak to a keep.meSafe counsellor for immediate or ongoing support with any issue – big or small. Download the Keep Me Safe app or call 1-844-451-9700. Outside of North America dial 001-416-380-6578.
Additionally, students can access free counselling services at the College.
Canada is generally a peaceful and orderly country. Here are some personal safety tips that all International students should know, to help you feel comfortable and be safe in your new surroundings.
- Get to know your neighbours, classmates and staff at the International Education office.
- Keep an eye on your belongings in public places.
- Carry a little cash, not a lot. Keep your passport and valuables at home.
- When you go out, know where you are going and how to get there.
- When you go out at night, go with friends, and if you drink alcohol, don’t drive.
- If someone bothers you, don’t worry about hurting their feelings: tell them to stop!
- In an emergency, phone 911 (Police, Fire, Ambulance).
- Ask Canadian police for help. They are friendly and professional.
- Keep your health insurance information with you at all times.
- Report any crime or violent incident immediately.
- View the College’s Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response policy.
Beware of scams that target international students. There has been a rise in robocalls and phone scammers claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, Immigration, the RCMP or a Canadian bank. The message or caller may threaten you with arrest or legal action in order to persuade you to send money or give them personal information like your Social Insurance Number or passport information. They often tell you that you must not ask for help from friends or family. These calls can be scary, but if a caller threatens you in any way, that is a sure sign that the call is a scam. If there is any doubt, hang up.
The government (IRCC, CRA, RCMP, MSP, etc.) will never:
- Contact you over the phone to collect fees or fines
- Threaten to arrest or deport you
- Threaten to harm you or a family member
- Ask for financial information over the phone
- Try to rush you into paying right away
- Ask you to pay fees using prepaid credit cards, Western Union, gift cards or other similar services
Our Cranbrook Campus Security Officers are on duty during operational hours and are the first responders to all emergencies including medical emergencies. They patrol all buildings and parking areas. Dial 222 from a College phone for assistance.
Driver and pedestrian laws are different in Canada than in other countries. Students should familiarize themselves with insurance/licensing requirements and laws in British Columbia. Note that there are very strict distracted driving laws, so don’t touch your cell phone or other mobile electronic devices while driving! Also, NEVER drive while affected by alcohol or drugs. BC has the toughest drinking and driving laws in Canada.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Use
Attitudes towards drinking, smoking and cannabis use vary among Canadians. In British Columbia, you must be 19 years old to legally purchase and consume alcohol, tobacco or cannabis.
Drinking alcohol is not allowed in public places, except in licensed bars or restaurants. Likewise, smoking is not allowed in most public places, including outdoor spaces near building entrances. If you need to smoke at the College, you must go outside to the designated areas away from the entrances. Signs are posted. The use of cannabis, in all forms, is prohibited on all College premises, with some exceptions. View the College’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis policy for more information.
The college region of British Columbia has an abundance of wildlife, including bears, deer, cougars, wolves and coyotes. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of human-wildlife conflict. Never approach or feed wildlife. Lock up attractants (garbage, bird seed, pet food, compost, etc) around your home. And learn how to be safe when enjoying outdoors recreational activities at WildSafe BC.
Enjoy Your Time in Canada
Culture shock is a very real psychological process everyone experiences upon arrival in a new country. There are four stages which affect everyone differently. The key to coping is to understand the stages and that the feelings associated with each stage are normal. Most students will get homesick for their families, friends and their school. Some become frustrated with how different things are in Canada and how tired they become having to use English all day, every day. The good news is – almost all students get past these stages and have a wonderful time in Cranbrook and Canada.
The Honeymoon Stage
When you first arrive in Cranbrook everything that is new and different is also wonderful and interesting. This is the only stage most tourists experience as they never have to adapt to the culture. This stage can last from a week to a month or more.
The Distress Stage
This is where the reality of being away from home for a longer period of time hits. Cultural differences that you found interesting earlier in your stage can become frustrating. You may feel confused, isolated and/or overwhelmed during this stage. This time can be exhausting, especially if learning English is proving to be a challenge as well.
The Transition Stage
This is the most important stage to understand. You may become angry or frustrated with Canadian life when comparing it to your home culture. Don’t worry, this is normal. The key is to recognize symptoms of this stage and not give in to them.
The Integration Stage
Cultural challenges and language issues begin to decline as you accept and embrace the differences that previously frustrated you. This is when your study abroad experience becomes everything you hoped it would be; you feel confident and relaxed in your community, your school and your homestay/residence.
While it is important to be aware of the stages listed above, it is equally important to know that not everyone goes through every stage. Some arrive and are immediately homesick; others never experience the frustration of the transition stage and skip quickly to the integration stage. The key is to be aware of what is happening and remember that the International Office staff and your Homestay hosts are available to help you. Most important thing is to remember why you came to Canada! It is supposed to be different and challenging. If Canada was the same as your home country, there would be no reason to come.
Check out these resources to help you settle and get involved in your new community: