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Overview of Canada

■ Housing

Homestay is one of the most popular options in Canada. The country has a good homestay management and network, so a lot of students choose to stay with a Canadian family. It’s a nice experience to speak English every day, live the daily Canadian life and have a cozy place to stay. Some schools offer student houses by lottery, so depending on where you are applying to study, you may not get accommodation from the school. Other option is to rent a house and live alone or share with other students.

■ Transportation system

All cities and major towns in Canada have more than one kind of public transportation system, and traveling by bus is the most common way to get around. However, the weather is often very poor, so many people prefer to travel by car, as it is so cold outside that nobody wants to wait for the bus. Thus, there is a strong car culture in Canada and the public transportation system is underdeveloped. Students usually walk even when it is too cold, so it’s highly recommended that you wear snow boots during winter.

■ Shopping

The majority of shopping is done in shopping malls. There is one in every neighborhood. All of these malls feature many of the same stores such as Garage, Gap, Forever 21, etc. Most of these shopping malls will contain one big department store which is usually the Hudson’s Bay company and also an electronics store such as Best Buy or Future Shop.
A favorite hobby of Canadians is to visit outlet malls, which offer the same products as shopping malls but at a cheaper price. These outlet malls are located far away from the city or sometimes even in the US. The most famous one is Grove City Premium Outlets located in Pennsylvania.

■ Cuisine

Since Canada is such a mosaic of different cultures, authentic Canadian cuisine is hard to come by. The most defining aspect of Canadian cuisine is fast food, which includes hamburgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, fries and steaks. Even at haute Canadian cuisine, it is often about a good sirloin steak or Angus burger.
With so many different cultures in Canada, it is not hard to find a curry or eat Caribbean beef jerky. They are also not more expensive than fast food.
Many students decide to eat at the school cafeteria every day. The school cafeteria offers a lot of variety and changes its menu from day to day. The price is often cheaper than outside.

There is also a big mentality shift towards “green” food. Many restaurants are becoming eco-friendly and healthy. Concepts such as frozen yoghurt, which is a healthier version of ice cream have started to dominate the Canadian landscape. These products come at a higher price but still rather affordable.

■ Culture

As mentioned earlier, Canada accepts and plays host to many cultures. It is very hard to understand what Canadian culture truly is. In Toronto, you have Chinatown, Little Italy, Korean Town, Little Portugal, Greek Town, etc.
People enjoy watching sports and going to the wilderness in their spare time. Many people own recreational vehicles, canoes and skis to visit the countryside.
In terms of popular culture, Canada is much similar to the U.S. Reality shows, superstars and singing competitions are no strangers to Canadians.

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