Moving to a new country can be difficult and stressful. Sometimes even unbearable. But what will determine your success is what you will do. These are some of the silly mistakes that you should avoid.
Don't violate your visa requirements.
International students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week. Make sure to notify your employer that you need to be within the range. However, you are allowed to work full time during the holidays. So don’t worry, you’ll make money.
Your visa also requires you to be in school. Make sure you’re registered for every academic semester. If you have an emergency, make sure to contact your school if you want to take a break. In addition, notify immigration if you wish to transfer schools.
Don't finance a new car
For those who don’t know, financing a car is the process of acquiring a car through loans. Payments will be made monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly depending on the agreement. As an international student, you should avoid falling into this pit. Financing a car will eat you alive, literally! Remember, many costs come with owning a car. Oil changes, maintenance, insurance, gas and many more. Now imagine paying for that and loan payments on top. You’re probably looking at $600-1000 a month just for a car. Do you think this is feasible? I think not. Unless you want to live with the bare minimum just to keep up with the payments, I suggest you avoid it.
Fun fact: Cars depreciate so fast to the point where you can’t even sell them half the price you bought. Sounds like a lazy investment to me. Think smarter. Lease a car or buy it used.
Buy a used car instead
For an international student, there are so many benefits to getting a used car. Used cars are cheaper and most importantly, you will not be trapped in debt with a car loan. Always remember, it’s better to make purchases you can afford. Loans make you think that you have money, but in reality, you’re going to live beyond your means and that’s where the cycle of debt starts. However, if you need a loan for a business then that’s a different story. The way you deal with debt in Canada will be a pivotal point in your financial success. Monitor your credit score and make sure it is in good standing.
don't buy an uninspected car
Yes, the process of buying a used car can be a pain, especially for international students. Always make sure the car is fully inspected by a certified garage. Without inspection you won’t be able to transfer the vehicle to your name, therefore rendering your purchase pointless. This is a simple process and easy to follow. Don’t rush, shop around, and research different car models.
PS: Used cars don’t have to look old and ugly. Depending on your budget you can get almost anything. From the flashiest vehicle to the simplest one, there is something for everyone.
Don't drive without insurance
Well, the title just says it all. Don’t drive without insurance. If you get into an accident and damages pile up. You are going to wish you had it. Insurance is also required by law, therefore if you get stopped by a cop, they will ticket you or impound your car for not having it.
Report your taxes
Always report your taxes. It can be confusing at first, but your school will have an international department that will assist you. By filing taxes you will be able to claim tax refunds and tuition credits.
Don't live without health insurance
Health insurance is so important. When you are registered for the semester, your school will automatically enroll you with a health insurance company. However, it is your responsibility to apply for the provincial health card which will come in handy for those regular doctor checkups. The international office will advise you on how to do that.
don't get arrested
Avoid crime at all costs. This might automatically disqualify your visa and result in deportation. Whether its a petty crime or a serious one, stay clear and think before you act. Also, avoid smoking weed and alcohol while driving. Get a friend to drive you or call a cab if you are intoxicated. Impaired driving is taken very seriously in Canada.
don't let your visa expire
Sometimes you need an extra year to finish your studies. Never let your visa expire. Always apply for an extension before it does. If it has expired, you will be required to pack your bags and leave the country.
Know your audience
Canada is a very liberal society. It is important to know your audience. There are some views and opinions that are not popular here. Focus on your studies and treat everyone with respect. I have seen people losing jobs or having their entire careers melted for having an unpopular view. My advice, stay away from politics and focus on why you are here.
Avoid expensive phone contracts
Depending on how much you make, buying a phone outright will be the best move. A lot of people in Canada finance things. From cars to furniture to laptops and phones. I think you should not normalize debt. Imagine paying for the same phone for 2 years because you got yourself into a contract. Be smart, save up and buy the phone unlocked. But in case you get into a phone contract, make sure you are committed to paying back what you owe.
The best way to get the best phone plan is to buy your phone outright, subscribe to a prepaid plan and you are good to go. I pay CAD $25 a month with Public mobile. My plan comes with 1GB of data, unlimited US/Canada messages and phone calls. As funny as it seems, choosing the right phone bill will save you a lot of money. Money that you can spend on food, leisure, and activities.
Communicate with your family
If you feel lonely don’t hesitate to talk to someone. Call your family and let them know how you are doing. I have friends who have gotten so busy to the point where they no longer communicate with their families back home. Try your best to keep in touch.
This is why you are here. Just make it happen. Graduate and party!