Making the Most of Your High School Experience

Mon, 13 Aug 2018

You’ve taken the first steps in deciding to come to Canada; and now you understand the ups and downs of acclimatizing to life in a new culture.  GREAT!  Now let’s discuss how you can get the most out of your experience.

When you arrive, the basic elements of your programme are already arranged:  you have your new city, your school class timetable, a host family and your CISS coordinator that are ready to help you ease into your Canadian life.   But to make all these elements work to become a great experience, you need to reach deep inside yourself.

Join Clubs

This is by far the best way to meet and connect with other students who will become your friends.  It’s very daunting to enter a new classroom for the first time, full of strangers (and to have to do this for EACH of your classes).  Similarly, trying to make a friend in a sea of strangers in a huge cafeteria is not a simple task.  Break it down.  What do you enjoy doing?  What are your hobbies? Do you like Photography?  If so, join the photography club.  You will suddenly be in a very small group of teens all with the same interest.  Conversation will be easier, and smiles will come more readily.  It’s much easier to initiate a conversation with one or two people, than to try to hand-pick a friend in a classroom (but don’t worry, that too will come as you get to know your classmates).  Canadian high schools offer a wide range of clubs to suit all interests- from arts and music, drama and fashion to math clubs, technology groups and more.

Try out for a sport

Are you a basketball player?  Try out for the team!  You cannot gain success if you don’t try.  Most coaches are happy to welcome new players – especially if you already have solid skills in a sport.  Never played a sport?  It might be a challenge to make the team, but lunchtime offers friendly recreational sports opportunities in the gym or outside.  Don’t be afraid.  Some of our past students have become the ‘star’ player for their schools which gave them a real sense of belonging.


It’s a two-way street!  When someone takes an interest and starts to ask questions, answer back and then ask your own questions.  By showing an interest, and actually communicating, rather than simply providing one-word answers, you will bring out your personality and show others what makes your heritage so great, and why you make an interesting friend.  Our most successful homestay experiences are with students who talk to their families, who share their joys and their concerns.  In today’s world, communication is a key skill that employers and social partners seek.

Community involvement

Most Canadian diploma requirements include community service hours.  The purpose is to ensure that students develop a sense of responsibility toward their community that will continue to serve them in adulthood.  For international students, community involvement is an equally gratifying way to learn about their host city or town, and to learn about their environment outside of school.  Communities are more than just shopping malls and brand name coffee shops.  Independently owned shops and restaurants form the heart of neighbourhood and community.

It’s time now to start your amazing new journey. Make it your own!  Two students in the same school can have very different experiences.  Seize the day!  Seize every opportunity. No one else can make this perfect – that is only something that YOU can do!