GO – Get Oriented
Get oriented for success in your new life in Canada and at Red River College. Over the first eight weeks of your program, we have strategies, resources and supports to help you start on the path to success in your life, education and career in Canada.
Week 1: Get Involved
How do you feel a sense of belonging in a new place? With so many new things going on, it can be challenging to adjust to your new life.
One negative way students may deal with their new surroundings is by hiding. They keep to themselves, staying at home, eating recognizable food and watching familiar TV, only going out for classes or work. This behaviour can quickly lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Other times, students create a “bubble” of people around them from their home culture. In the short term, this can feel very good. Together, you share a familiar language and culture as well as the experience of living in a new place.
The problem with this coping strategy is that although you have a small group of friends around you, you are still isolating yourself from all of the opportunities to learn, connect and belong in the place where you live. You may also be sending a message to classmates, instructors, employers and potential friends, “I don’t want to participate in Canadian life.” This form of isolation can narrow your opportunities for career and personal success if you plan to stay in Canada for an extended time.
Successful integration into a new environment requires intention. Get out of your comfort zone and start participating in life on campus and within your Canadian community.
How Can You Get Started on Campus?
- Sign up for the Cultural Mentorship Program
- Try out for an RRC Sports team or Fitness & Wellness Program
- Get involved in the Red River College Students’ Association
- Join a club (or start your own)
- Participate in the Canadian Connection program (Welcome party on September 28)
- Read the International and Immigrant Student News for new opportunities and activities throughout the year
How Can You Get Started in the Community?
- Volunteer – check out Volunteer Manitoba for opportunities across the province
- Participate in recreational activities
- City of Winnipeg Leisure Guide
- YM/YWCA recreation centres
- Join a community recreational league
- Join a community-based club
- Take a friend to explore Winnipeg
(Please note that these community-based activities are not associated with or endorsed by Red River College)
We hope you have a great time getting to know your college and community.
Watch these videos from this week’s GO Session for more information!
Week 2: Get Settled
If you have recently arrived in Winnipeg, you may be spending as much time adjusting to the new city as you are to your new program. During the first few months, you may find that taking care of your basic needs can be more complicated than in the past.
Making this new place your home will help you feel comfortable and secure, and you will be able to accomplish more in class and life. Just like building a good friendship, getting to know your city takes intention and quality time. Set a goal for yourself to get to know Winnipeg better over the next few weeks!
Tips For Getting to Know Your City:
- Start With the Basics. What do you “need” and where can you find these things close to where you live? Talk to classmates, neighbours or explore the internet to identify the most important stores and other places in your neighbourhood.
- Expanding Circles. Start with the places where you spend the most time – school, home, work or shopping centres. Begin exploring the nearby areas – walk into a new store, library or park each day just to see what is there. Explore a bit farther each time.
- Get Lost. When you have free time, visit a different part of the city – a shopping centre, neighbourhood or park. Go to a tourist attraction or try to find something you’ve been craving. Make sure to charge your phone and check your data plan so that you can find your way back!
- Find a Guide. Meet up with a local friend and let them show you their favourite places and activities. (Need to make local friends? Try joining the Intercultural Mentorship Program)
- Try Something New. You can enrich your life by trying a different way of doing things. Find out how local residents meet their needs – it might work for you, too. You may come from a culture where eating out all the time is normal but it is too expensive here. Find other ways of connecting with people through activities or meeting at home. Living in a different climate you may need to adjust your clothing, personal hygiene (take more showers) or the number of blankets you use.
Where to Get What You Want in Winnipeg:
Note that all external links are for information only and are not connected with or endorsed by Red River College.
There are several options available when renting a place:
- Red River College Campus Living.
- Renting an apartment from a rental agency.
- Homestay programs (through homestay agencies or private listings).
- Renting a room in a house / apartment (private rental).
- Sharing accommodation with friends.
- Short-term private accommodation (such as AirBnB).
- Kijiji is the most popular website for rentals in Winnipeg. Other websites for rentals include Craigslist, Rentboard or Easyroomate.
When looking for housing, be aware of:
- Scams – Always view the rental space, meet the landlord and examine the contract in person before signing a lease or paying a deposit.
- Bedbugs – These are a problem across Winnipeg (not just in low-cost housing). Take care when renting a place or buying used furnishings.
- Illegal boarding houses – Houses that are illegally converted for room rentals may be unsafe.
- Contracts and deposits – Lease agreements are typically for one year, but may be month-to-month. There is typically a security deposit required, which should not be more than a half month’s rent. Check the rules in your agreement – for example, many agreements require all adult occupants to sign the lease.
Check out these resources for more information about renting in Manitoba:
- Manitoba Residential Tenancies Branch has comprehensive information for both renters and landlords.
- New Journey Housing provides training and advice to newcomers to Winnipeg about finding safe and affordable housing. Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and what to be aware of when looking for a place to live.
- Winnipeg Transit is the main form of public transportation for getting around the city. Use the web-based Navigo to access schedules.
Other options are:
- Taxis (Unicity, Duffy’s, Spring, & Greencity)
- Ride-share (Tappcar, Cowboy Taxi, U2Go)
- Car sharing (Peg City Car Co-op)
- Carpooling (GoManitoba)
- Driver’s License: Check out Manitoba Public Insurance for information about driving in Manitoba:
Credit Cards– Using a credit card and paying all your bills on time can help you build a good credit score to help you qualify for financial opportunities in the future. With no credit history in Canada, you may need to start off with a secured credit card. These require a deposit in exchange for a credit limit.
The major grocery stores in Winnipeg have a wide range of foods, usually including a diverse range of ethnic foods:
- Sobeys / Safeway
- Real Canadian Superstore
- Save-on Foods
- Co-op Marketplace
Check out these links for information about finding ethnic foods in Winnipeg:
- English Online Manitoba Food Guide
- Food Matters Manitoba Map to Newcomer Traditional Foods in Winnipeg
If you need to see a doctor, you can either find a family physician or visit a Walk-in Clinic (no appointment needed but be prepared to wait up to two hours). For emergency care, you can attend a hospital emergency department or call 9.1.1 for ambulance service (also fire or police service).
For more information about these and other health care options, visit MyRightCare.ca
For help with health insurance information and claims, contact the RRCSA Student Benefits Plan Office.
Cellular phone plans are relatively expensive in Canada, but they are important tools to stay connected for education, employment and personal use. Typically contracts run for two years, but if you already have a device, you may be able to get a month-to-month plan.
Major companies offering cellular service in Manitoba include:
Some other companies (Fido, Koodo, Virgin Mobile, etc.) sell plans based off the major carriers’ networks.
Manitoba Travel and Recreation Information
- Travel Manitoba
- Winnipeg Tourism
- Winnipeg Leisure Guide: Activities across Winnipeg
- Are you attending a rural campus or visiting a town outside of Winnipeg? Check out information about Rural Centres in Manitoba.
- Live & Learn Online Community for New Manitobans: Great online resource about getting settled in Manitoba.
- Immigrant Centre Manitoba: Offers a wide range of settlement services to newcomers in Manitoba.
What Are You Looking For?
Is there anything you’re still trying to find in Manitoba? Let us know! Email Norlan at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
Get Settled! Video Links
Week 3: Get Organized
You’ve probably figured this out already; your Red River College program is challenging! You have to work hard to become employment-ready. Adjusting to academic life can be overwhelming, but with focus and organization you can take control and find study success.
5 Keys to Academic Success:
- Overcome academic culture shock
- Organize your life
- Communicate with your instructors
- Follow academic integrity standards
- Access academic supports
Overcome Culture Shock
When you walk into a new class, a lot may be different from the courses you have attended before. Class layout, resources, activities and assessments may be very different. What helped you succeed in the past may not work here – you may have to learn new skills to excel.
For some, the biggest challenge may be presentation skills. For others, it may be learning how to work independently and within groups, or to prepare for both theoretical and practical evaluations.
Every time you meet a challenge in studies or life, it is an opportunity for learning. Keep a positive mindset and an analytical approach to adapt to new expectations effectively.
Organize Your Life by Planning Backward
You can reduce stress by organizing the tasks you have to do. “Backward planning” involves placing all of your deadlines on your schedule and then work backward from that deadline to the present, breaking down the tasks that you need to complete to stay on track.
This technique can apply to personal and settlement challenges as well. For example, if you need to find a new apartment, you can map out the tasks and decisions that need to happen to move at the right time.
If you take a few hours at the beginning of the term to organize all your work, you will not have the burden of all the deadlines and tasks at the end, focus on the tasks scheduled for that day.
Once they are complete, you are free to do other things – rest, socialize or other activities. This technique will also help you to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle as a student.
Communicate With Your Instructors
Your instructors are on your team – they are working to help you meet the outcomes required by your program. Communicate with them. If you are struggling, they can suggest ways for you to get additional support, practice or resources to get back on the right pathway. If you are doing well, they can recommend opportunities to take on other challenges to prepare for success beyond your program. They are also your link to your future industry of choice. Get to know them and let them get to know your goals and skills.
Academic integrity is taken very seriously at Red River College and reflects the principles of honesty, truthfulness and fairness.
Western education places high importance on individual work. You are responsible for using your original work and ideas, and for giving acknowledgment when you use or refer to work and ideas by other people. Even when group work occurs, individuals receive credit for their contributions, and individual assignments must be completed according to the guidelines without outside help.
Penalties for academic misconduct can be severe, ranging from a failing grade for the assignment to being expelled from the college.
If you are coming from an educational system with different standards, this can be a significant challenge. Make it a priority to learn the rules early in your program and be sure to follow them.
Tips for avoiding academic misconduct:
- Read the college’s Academic Integrity Policy (S4).
- Ask your instructor what activities are allowed before you start an assignment.
- Learn the citation method used in your program (for example, Modern Language Association Guidelines). Find a guide to help you cite your sources properly.
- Contact the Academic Success Centre for help with academic writing.
- Meet with a language tutor to learn how to properly paraphrase, summarize and refer to research sources.
- Be honest and truthful in all of your academic work, communications and representation of your work at Red River College.
Access Academic Supports
Your Red River College program may be one of the greatest challenges you have taken on in your life so far, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are complete supports available to help you meet the high academic standards. Visit the Academic Success Centre for academic and language coaching, tutoring or workshops. You will be surprised at what you can achieve with a bit of support.
Get Organized! Video Links
Week 4: Get Working
Red River College programs are designed to prepare students for successful employment. We are proud to produce graduates that are highly valued in the workforce, and there is a lot you can do right now to increase your chances of success upon graduation. It’s time to get working!
Your Career Starts Now
Start now by thinking about yourself as a professional. Learn the culture of your field, the technical, social and communication skills that you will use at work. Ask questions in class and take every opportunity to practice your skills beyond the basic requirements. Build your reputation so that your instructors will recognize you as an engaged, punctual and skilled student whom they can strongly endorse when you apply to industry positions.
Build Your Skills
As a student, you have many opportunities to get involved in clubs, extracurricular activities and gain part-time employment. Be strategic in your choices. A part-time job that gives you some spending money is good, but an opportunity to practice some of your career skills or be exposed to the work environment that you plan to build a career in is more valuable than a paycheque.
Build Your Resume
Take some time to meet with an advisor in the Student Employment Services team. They can help you research and plan your job search strategy in preparation for both student employment and your post-graduation job search. They have great tips about how to develop your resume and what to expect in a job interview.
You are studying alongside instructors closely connected to the industry and with students who will be working in the same sector as you. Treat those relationships with respect. You never know which of those people will be critical to your career success.
Start building your professional network beyond the college. Many professional organizations and unions welcome students to engage early through special events and conferences. Career fairs and employer visits on campus also offer an opportunity to network. Take advantage of those opportunities and get to know people working in the field. You will gather valuable information and contacts in the workforce, but people will also begin to see you as a serious new professional.
Make a timeline to prepare for employment, whether you are preparing for a co-op position, summer employment or post-graduate work. Many of the best employers start recruiting in January for positions beginning in May, so you should have your resume and job search strategy ready and perfected by December.
Get Working! Video Links
Week 5: Get Connected
Part of settling into a new place is building a new network of friends.
It’s time to get connected!
An easy way to get started is by connecting with other newcomers – they need new friends as much as you do and some of them may even share your culture and language.
One of the culture shocks that many newcomers find is that while Canadians are friendly, they don’t always want to be friends. They have enough already.
Some cultures focus on BEING – spending time together eating, drinking, watching movies or just sitting around getting to know each other. However, Canadians tend to focus on DOING. If you ask someone you don’t know well to go out for drinks with you, they are likely to say “no,” and might be confused about what you want. However, if you are both already involved in an activity you enjoy – perhaps a group project, a sport, employment or a volunteer opportunity, you may find that you can connect easily because of your common interests. Once you get to know each other, you can spend more time together.
Relationships in a new culture can be tricky because there are many unwritten rules.
How can I initiate friendships with people without being perceived as weird – or worse – creepy?
Personal space is one concept that is very different across cultures. In some cultures, it is normal to stand 12 inches away from a person when speaking to them, to hold a friend’s hand or touch them while you are talking. In Canada, most people consider the space of an arm’s length to be personal to them. Entering that space or touching someone without permission can be regarded as aggressive, dangerous or disrespectful.
Respect means treating others the way they want to be treated.
A key to successful relationships here is consent. If you’re not sure what someone wants, you can ask. You can also communicate how you would like to be treated.
If you want to initiate a romantic or sexual relationship with someone, it is important that you make your intentions clear. Do not ask someone to study with you when you want a date with them. If you communicate what kind of relationship you want and they tell you they want the same thing, that’s great! However, if they don’t tell you that they want that kind of relationship, then you should respect their wishes. Continuing to pursue that person would be considered harassment.
Relationships can be challenging to navigate. Good relationships help you feel connected in your community, but negative relationships can make you feel unhappy or unsafe. If you need help dealing with interpersonal situations, speak with a counsellor. They can share strategies for building positive connections with people around you.
If you ever feel threatened or in danger, you can contact Campus Security or Winnipeg Police (9.1.1 by phone).
LGBTT* Initiative – Red River College is committed to fostering a safe campus environment by ensuring everyone has the chance to work, learn and access services in an inclusive and welcoming manner. The LGBTT* (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirit) initiative provides educational opportunities and ally training resources that help build communication, understanding and respect throughout our campuses.
Intercultural Mentorship Program – This is a great program for learning about culture and building a friendship at the same time.
Get Connected! Video Links
Week 6: Get Culture
What is Canadian culture? It is a good question and not easy to answer. In such a large, diverse country, the answer may be that there are many Canadian cultures. Canada is a multicultural country sometimes described as a “mosaic,” with many culturally unique groups contributing to the larger picture.
Each community, organization or even family may have their unique way of doing things.
Your perception of “Canadians” depends on the characteristics of the culture you are coming from. For example, if you come from a culture where communication is very formal and indirect, you may experience people here to speak very casually and directly – perhaps you may even find them impolite. However, if you are coming from culture even more direct than Canada, you may need to learn how to use softeners so that you are not perceived as rude.
Once you get past the obvious aspects of cultural differences, you can dig deeper to find out what the shared values and beliefs are that guide people through daily life. You can observe how people act toward each other and then reflect on what is happening or even ask someone to explain what you have observed. Try to find out the values that are behind what you have seen.
One place to find out about some of those common Canadian values is by reading the important national documents that define us as a country. The Canadian Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms define for us what it means to be a member of Canadian society. If you want to know more about the culture of your workplace, there may be other documents that communicate the values and mission that all employees should support. Learning values help members of any community work and live in harmony with each other.
It is important to recognize that each of us is also a culture of one – we have our unique values and beliefs. You may share many values, beliefs and behaviours with others from your culture but there are also ways you are different. Be careful not to stereotype – just because one Canadian instructor sets specific rules for the classroom does not mean that it is normal for all Canadian classes.
Another important aspect of understanding the culture of a new place is to study the history and heritage – how the community came to be where it is now.
Settlers and indigenous Canadians have had a difficult history, with many injustices and actions of oppression against indigenous people. These include broken treaties, restricted access to basic education and health services and programs such as residential schools and the “60s scoop” which took indigenous children away from their parents and communities to separate them from their culture.
The relationship between indigenous people, settlers and newcomers to Canada has been damaged, but many are beginning to work on rebuilding that relationship through a process of reconciliation. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, based here in Winnipeg, has set out 94 Calls to Action which challenges everyone in Canada to engage in a new way of living together.
As a newcomer to Canada, you also have an important part to play in the process of reconciliation. One step you can take is to learn about Canada’s indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures. The school of Indigenous Education has many events on campus that you can attend to learn more, and there are even more opportunities to learn around Winnipeg and Manitoba. By getting involved in reconciliation, you can help us build a stronger community together.
Cultural learning, like language learning, is a lifelong process, but as you become more and more fluent in bridging cultural differences, you can feel that you too are an essential part of your Canadian community.
Do you have questions? We are here to support your learning journey. Your Student Integration Coordinators (Norlan Page, NDC – email@example.com/ Lauren Konrad, EDC – firstname.lastname@example.org) would be happy to help answer questions you may have or direct you to someone who can.
Watch these videos to learn more.
- What is Canadian Culture?– Bradley West summarizes some of the influences on Canadian cultural experience.
- Indigenous History and Culture in Canada – Mae Louise Campbell – One of our college Elders introduces indigenous history and culture in Canada.
- Building Relationships between Indigenous & Newcomer Communities – Mae Louise Campbell – Ways to build connections as a newcomer to Canada.
- Challenging My Own Stereotypes – Listen to a student share how his stereotypes were challenged through learning experiences at Red River College.
Workplace Integration: A Desk Reference for Newcomers to Canada, by Paul A. Holmes – guide to Canadian workplace culture.
Get Culture! Video Links
Week 7: Get Help
What to Do When Things Go Wrong
For many new students, October is a tough month.
- Cold weather
- Hours of missed sleep
- Lower grades than you expected
How you deal with these challenges will determine your success in your program and life. Fortunately, with the right strategies and support, you can overcome each of the challenges you face.
What You Can Do Yourself
There are three things you can do to ensure you survive the midterm challenges.
First, keep a positive attitude. Have confidence in your ability to overcome any difficulties you face and achieve your goals. Tell yourself positive messages.
Second, evaluate where you are. Take a self-checkup and ask yourself what is going well and where you are having difficulty. Be sure to take a holistic look at each area your life:
Third, make a plan. For every challenge you are facing, identify at least one strategy or action you can take to address that challenge, and one resource or person where you can get support.
|Low grades on assignments||Improve grades||Plan projects in detail
Get a tutor
| Academic Success Centre
|Eat lunch together with a classmate every day.
| Intercultural Mentorship Program
Everyone needs a bit of help to achieve their goals. Red River College has a wide range of student supports available, but it is your responsibility to access them!
Here are a few places you can go for help:
- Talk to your instructor or program coordinator.
- Academic Success Centre: Academic coaching, tutoring, workshops and more.
- New Journey Housing: Supporting newcomers to Winnipeg with housing information, resources and support.
- Manitoba Residential Tenancies Branch
- Campus security
- Download the Mobile Safety app
- Winnipeg Police
- Emergency calls: 9.1.1
- Non-emergency calls: 1.204.986.6222
Immigration Issues (for international students only)
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- International Education website
- International Student Advisor
- Counselling Services
- Red River Relief Line
- Crisis Response Centre, 24/7 walk-in service
- 817 Bannatyne Avenue
- Mobile Crisis Service, someone will come to you
- Call: 204.940.1781
- Klinic Crisis Line – 24/7 Call: 204.786.8686
- In the case of an emergency, call 9.1.1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
If you are facing any other difficulties and aren’t sure where to go, talk to your student integration coordinator. They will help connect you with the supports to help you face those challenges with confidence.
What to Do When Things Go Wrong (Norlan Page, International Education)
Students’ Association Supports (Kelsey Gillespie, Red River College Students’ Association)
Week 8: Get Healthy
Most people know when their body is unhealthy. Whether it is a runny nose, cough, fever, sore muscles, toothache or headache – these symptoms indicate that something is going wrong with your body and you need to get help to fix it.
Mental health works in much the same way. When you experience thoughts and emotions that don’t feel normal, something might be wrong. Symptoms to be aware of include:
- Negative thoughts
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty relaxing
- Feeling unusually irritable
- Low energy
- Loss of confidence
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling lonely
- Difficulty sleeping
Everyone experiences these symptoms occasionally, but if you are not feeling normal for a couple of weeks or more, it can be a sign that your mental health needs some help.
It may be surprising to find that you experience mental health challenges differently in Canada than you did in your home country; however, life here is different. You may have had activities, habits, people and other resources in your home country to help you maintain your mental health, which is not available here. Additionally, the pressures of academic life, the difference in climate and daily routines can bring added stress that can trigger mental health problems.
- Listen to Ligia, a former international student at Red River College, share her experience dealing with mental health challenges as a student. Video
Managing your thoughts and emotions requires acknowledging the changes and challenges you are facing, employing new strategies to meet the challenges and using available help and supports. Here are some things you can do to maintain good mental health and address challenges when they come.
- Stay active: Keeping your body active and healthy helps your mind as well. Get outside, even during the winter. The physical activity, oxygen and sunlight can help you feel better, despite the cold!
- Get your vitamins: Vitamin D is related to your mood, and many people have a deficiency of this vitamin in the winter when they get less sun. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about supplementing this and any other vitamins you may be missing.
- Talk to someone: Talk to a friend about how you are feeling. If you don’t have someone you can talk to, you can call the Red River Relief Line, a free, anonymous, 24/7 support.
- Meet with a counsellor: Red River College counsellors can help you work through personal struggles, develop skills to manage better and enjoy your college experience. You can book an appointment online or by visiting their office (Notre Dame campus)
- If you are in crisis, get help: A crisis is when you are struggling and having difficulty coping with your stress, thoughts or feelings. Urgent support is available on-campus and in our community:
- Counselling Services (Notre Dame Campus – D102, The Roblin Centre – P210)
- Crisis Response Centre (24/7 walk-in service) 817 Bannatyne Avenue
- Mobile Crisis Service (Someone will come to you) Phone: 204.940.1781
- Klinic Crisis Line – 24/7 Phone: 204.786.8686 / TTY: 204.784.4097
- If you are having thoughts of suicide, phone the Suicide Prevention and Support line: 1.877.435.7170
In the case of an emergency, call 9.1.1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
- Healthy Minds Healthy College– Check out the News & Events page for upcoming events, including Thrive Week in November!
- Counselling services
- Red River ReliefLine
- Student benefits cover services from registered massage therapists, psychologists and social workers (among others).
- Visit Recreation and Athletics to get involved with fitness classes (free for students), intramurals or other physical activities.
- Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support Line 1.877.435.7170 or reasontolive.ca
- International Students and Mental Health Eddy Lau (Director, International Education)
- Studying in a New Culture: Dealing with Change
- Healthy Body & Mind in a New Environment
- Coping Strategies for Times of Stress
- Strategies for Dealing with Intercultural Stress: Mindfulness
- Accessing Supports on Campus