I landed at Pearson Airport, Toronto on September 2012. I was wearing a pretty thick jacket as everyone back home kept scaring me of the Canadian Winter. However, it was a really nice sunny day with few overhead clouds. In the one hour immigration process, I noticed two important things: Firstly, that Canadians are really nice and secondly that the environment is really diverse in terms of race, gender etc.
Most of the Canadian Universities have a freshman orientation week in which faculty representatives take you through various fun activities so you can make friends and adjust to the environment. The reps also share their university experiences and some valuable tips.
In most universities, students start in a certain department like Mechanical, Software, Electrical, Civil etc. At others there is a first year of general engineering where students take fundamental courses from different engineering fields. Then at the end of first year students choose your department based on their knowledge and interests. Engineering in Canada is not just limited to in-class learning but also has an practical aspect to it. You get opportunities to take part in community-based projects, case-competitions, engineering competitions and much more. They not just allow you to improve your technical skills but also help you to gain other soft-skills like communication, interpersonal, leadership skills etc.
Most programs last four years but North American Universities offer students the opportunity to work during their summer break or even take a break year to get some practical experience in their related field by doing a co-op/Internship. I was really lucky to get a sixteen month internship after finishing my third year. Although, it has extended my term to 6 years, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a great learning experience.
You can expect the average annual cost to be around fifty-sixty thousand CAD but if you do internships and work part-time you can save a lot. That definitely would be hectic and could extend your term but it’s completely doable.
Mental health is a great deal here. Universities realize that at times studies can get really stressful and students get frustrated. Thus, they provide a lot of resources like counselling sessions, 24 hours help-line and stress-relieving events before exams e.g. a free coffee get together event or an all you can eat session with your friends.
Overall, I feel it is has been a tremendous experience till now. This was totally a different environment and therefore initially it was bit hard for to socialize but people here are really nice and eventually i got used to it. You get to see ups and downs but being positive and happy will be your important arsenal to get to the other side of the tunnel.