Preparing to move to a new country is both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Therefore it is of paramount importance that you prepare yourself adequately as an international student for your study abroad experience. Today we’ll look at how Zambians can culturally prepare to study in Canada.

First and foremost, you need to remember that the classroom culture in Canada may be quite different than what you are accustomed to in your home country. In the classroom, everyone must be treated with respect: professors, students, teaching assistants and guest speakers. This is key to your success as an international student. Let’s look at a few more ways you can adapt to and flow with the Canadian classroom culture seamlessly.


When lectures are ongoing, it important to mute all your electronic devices and ensure they are used mainly for taking notes or following the lecture to avoid causing a distraction. If you need to eat in class for any reason, avoid eating noisy foods or foods which have a strong aroma and can draw the attention of others away from the lecture. Also, if you need to leave class early, do so as quietly as possible. Don’t be rude by making noise with your shoes, electronic devices or other objects.

Student/Lecturer Relationship

Your study experience is a journey of a few years say four. This means that you can’t go through the experience alone, therefore, you must realize that your lecturers and professors are important for your academic success, so you need to maintain a cordial relationship with them by being punctual to class, handing in all your assignments on time, going prepared for lectures, tutorials and labs by completing your required readings and any assigned pre-work beforehand. But if you miss a class, make sure you catch up on what you missed.

Student Participation

Canadian universities like other international educational institutions encourage students to participate in class discussions and share ideas around course topics. In some courses, participation may be part of the final grade. The need to read before and ahead of the class cannot be overemphasized.

Academic Integrity

As an international student, it is important that all of your academic work and conduct is carried out with honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. For example, while one professor may allow you to complete assignments together so long as you list the other students that you worked with on it, others may not allow you to work with other students to complete assignments in any way. It is equally considered a lack of integrity if you use someone else’s ideas without properly listing them as a source in the work, if you use someone else’s iClicker for them if they are not present in class and if you modify or make up research or results to better fit with your desired outcomes for your work.

Away from the classroom, you also need to understand the Canadian culture generally to avoid having challenges So let’s look at some other key things you should know about as we continue this journey on how Zambians can culturally prepare to study in Canada.

Relative Status

In terms of explicit rules, women and men have equal standing and equal status in Canadian society. Both men and women may participate in political life, serve in government, own and dispose of property, and so on.


There are certain general expectations of public behaviour. For instance, behaviour in public should be subdued. Rowdiness and loud speech, are considered inappropriate except under special circumstances or in places such as bars or other venues. However, Canadians are generally soft-spoken, patient, and almost apologetic in their public behaviour.

National Celebrations

The major celebrations include Christmas, 25 December and Easter, which varies from year to year. Others include Canada Day, 1 July; New Year’s Day, 1 January; Victoria Day, which honours Queen Victoria of England and varies from year to year; Labor Day, in September; and Thanksgiving, in October.


Hockey may not be the official sport of Canada but it is the sport that most Canadians feel most passionate about. Hockey which is played on backyard ice rinks, in local community centres and in stadiums witnesses thousands of fans watching the matches live. Hockey is played by any and all genders from the ages of 3-4 to seniors. It is an important part of local communities.

Communication Style

Communication is moderately indirect, is essentially pragmatic and relies on common sense. Canadians communicate more by the spoken word rather than non-verbal expressions, they like their personal space and prefer to be at an arm’s length when speaking to someone. They also expect people to speak in a straightforward manner and to be able to back up their claims with examples without making exaggerated claims and are usually suspicious of something that sounds too good to be true.


Canadians appreciate politeness and expect others to adhere to the proper protocol for any given situation. When you arrive at or intend to depart from a meeting, you are expected to shake hands with everyone at the meeting, maintain eye contact while speaking and shaking hands, or even kiss once on each cheek as is done in Quebec. Some older men may even kiss a lady’s hand. On the whole, last names and appropriate titles should be used until otherwise invited to be less formal.

As a Zambian, hope this article on how Zambians can culturally prepare to study in Canada has opened your eyes and mind to what to do and expect when you eventually make that exciting trip. Good luck!

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