What to pack for Canada: An international students’ guide

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Are you heading to Canada soon for university? The thought, “What to pack for Canada?” has probably crossed your mind. As a country rich in cultural diversity, it has become a famous study abroad destination, and the numbers speak for themselves (as of Dec. 31, 2021, Canada hosted nearly 622,000 international students!).

If this is your first time travelling abroad to a foreign country with four distinct seasons, it can be daunting to come up with a packing list. After all, certain provinces have different climates: from very cold winters to hot, humid summers.

Rachel Dancel, a video creator based in Vancouver who creates content to assist international students wishing to study in Canada, shared in her Youtube video a list of things you should pack when travelling to study abroad in Canada. 

We draw on her advice, as well as a few of our own, on some of the essential things that you should pack for Canada as an international student for each season:

 

What to pack for Canada

Autumn

Pumpkin latte, orang foliage, corn maze, and Halloween. These are classic signs that autumn is coming. It also marks the return of the rainy season if you’re based in British Columbia.

Hence, you should pack a raincoat, an umbrella, play jackets (comfortable or informal clothing worn for leisure activities or play), scarfs, coats and waterproof shoes.

Winter

Some parts of Canada have harsher winters, so we recommend you dress for the climate. Vancouver, for instance, is considered the warmest place in Canada in winter. To keep yourself warm, consider layering. 

Socks, toques, gloves, scarfs and a neck warmer can make a significant difference in keeping you warm, so we advise you to not skim on these items.

Some universities offer winter coat drives. Under this initiative, students, and in some instances, the public, can donate clean winter wear that’s in good condition for international students to borrow. These items are typically returned once students no longer need them.

what to pack for canada

Some parts of Canada have harsher winters, so we recommend you dress for the climate. Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

Summer

Light and breezy clothes such as shorts, tank tops, light-coloured shirts, and leggings are highly recommended to beat the summer heat. 

A cap or a bucket hat is also essential to protect your skin from the sun, while a pair of sunglasses will shield you from the glaring sun rays. Consider investing in a good pair of shoes if you want to explore Canada’s scenic natural attractions too.

Spring

Spring has a cooler climate in Canada, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor adventures thoroughly.

Hoodies, vests, fleece jackets, and denim are perfect for the weather in spring. Dancel’s advice on layering your clothes remains the same for spring. Dressing in layers will also help you to put on more or fewer clothes in the appropriate weather.

what to pack for canada

Formal attire is essential for activities such as Model United Nations or mooting competitions in law schools. Source: Mohammed Abed/AFP

Work clothes

Aside from dressing for the weather, you should pack a few work clothes to wear for any formal occasions such as events at your universities, a competition which requires you to dress formally, or if the occasion requires you to dress the part.

If money is an issue, check if your university has a clothing closet that provides students with donated professional business attire and, in some instances, accessories, for free, which you can use for interviews, career fairs and more.

Essential documents

Last but not least, you must have all the essential documents you need to bring with you when you’re studying in Canada secured in a folder. Here are a few important documents or items that you should not miss out on: 

  • Birth certificate
  • IELTS test score
  • Letter of acceptance
  • Tuition receipt
  • Passport
  • Police clearance
  • Driver’s license 
  • Medical records
  • Medication
  • Study permit
  • Proof of vaccination 

Do have a few backup copies in case you lose your original document. 



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