How to be an international

You just got off the plane from Islamabad or Paris, or even more remote, Newfoundland.


how to be an international

It’s your first year at UTM and it all seems confusing. But fear not, UTM is ready to help you. And so are we: here’s our first-ever guide to UTM’s resources for international students, compiled by Su Lyn Liew, our own copy editor imported directly from Malaysia.

Use the University’s resources.

No, really. You pay roughly three times the school fees domestic students pay. You might as well get your money’s worth. The International Student Resource Centre is UTM’s hub for international students. (Your next best bet is to check the International Student Centre, which caters to all three U of T campuses despite being located on the St. George campus.) Look out for cultural gatherings, stress-management workshops, info-sessions and the ever-popular trips, such as apple-picking (in November) and day trips to Niagara Falls (year round).

UHIP and hospital visits. 

We know, you’re never going to get sick. You’re young and invincible. Except when you’re not.

Your University Health Insurance card doesn’t even look important. It’s flimsy, purple, and doesn’t even contain your photograph. This flimsy purple thing, however, allows you to claim health insurance, so make sure you get it in September or October and carry it with you at all times.

About hospitals: If you are not bleeding or visibly dying, you are better off skipping the emergency room. Wait times (if you are not in critical condition) may last from two hours to upwards of eight hours. Keep comfortable, and either try visiting a doctor or head to the Health Services on campus the next morning.

If you are at any general hospital and the person at the reception gives your UHIP a blank stare, insist that it is valid, and ask to speak with their supervisor or manager. UHIP is recognized at all major hospitals—you don’t need to pay the bill. If you go to smaller clinics, however, you will need to pay and seek reimbursement later.


You don’t have to buy everything brand new. Sure, you may want to splurge on certain things to make your home-away-from-home as comfortable as possible, such as a thick comforter or some posters for your room. But a dollar store (where most things actually sell for a dollar) is the best place to pick up inexpensive knickknacks. I buy simple photo frames, inexpensive cups and bowls for when friends visit, envelopes, a measuring cup and a million and one other nonessential things.

Storing your stuff for summer.

Unless you rent your own place or stay in Canada for the summer, chances are that you’ll have to pack up your belongings and move out for the summer. Store Your Dorm ( is a good option if you don’t have much stuff—the rates are for packing boxes and suitcases.

If you do have a lot of things to store (like furniture or electrical appliances), you might want to go with All Canadian Storage (

Tell them you’re from UTM and they’ll give you a student flat rate of $495 for storage from April to September, insurance, a lock, delivery back to your residence of choice in September, and a 5’ x 8’ x 7’ box.

Working on and off campus.

International students are allowed to work on campus without much hassle, but if you want to nab that off-campus bartender position, you’ll need to apply for an off-campus work permit. This permit will usually last you until the last year of your studies.

International graduating students are now allowed to apply for a work permit without a job offer, which takes the slack off students whose student permits have expired after graduation, but wish to stay in Canada. This postgraduate work permit ranges from a duration of eight months to three years after graduation. Keep in mind that if you are working, you will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number. Check the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for more details ( Good luck trying to reach them by phone.

Filing your tax return. 

Oh yes, infamous taxes. As an international student, you are entitled to get a small chunk of money back simply by virtue of those exorbitant international fees that you pay to U of T.

If you live or work on campus, you might get more. ROSI has a nifty tab for your T2202A tax forms. Print those out, take them to your nearest tax clinic (I recommend the ones at the ISC on St. George campus since they are geared specifically to international students) and fill out the correct forms. If you have a SIN, you can use the e-filing system; if not, you’ll have to mail your documents in. This page will definitely help you out.