Welcome to Carleton! Here’s a guide for what you can do after you arrive to get settled in.
Remember when your mandatory ISSO orientation is being held.
Pick up your UPASS and Campus Card
Collect your OC Transpo U-Pass (included in your full-time student fees) and Campus Card from the Campus Card office (407 University Centre). The OC Transpo travel planner will be a helpful resource as you figure out the Ottawa transit system. Exchange students: if you are studying with us for the Fall term only, you must return your UPASS to the Campus Card Office by January 6 to avoid being charged for the Winter term.
Once you arrive we advise you print off your UHIP card as soon as you get a chance.
Buy your textbooks
There are several different locations, including the campus book store, where you can buy your text books. Be sure to check your course outlines for information about which textbooks you need and where you can buy them. Professors may post exactly what books you need to buy for courses on CULearn.
Open a Canadian bank account
Some of the major Canadian banks with branch locations throughout Ottawa include BMO (Bank of Montreal), CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce), RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), Scotiabank, and TD Bank. There is a Scotiabank branch located on campus in Paterson Hall. Contact the bank of your choice to establish what documentation you will need to bring with you in order to set up your account, and to see if any restrictions may apply. You may find the Canadian Bankers Association’s “Banking for Newcomers to Canada” guide a helpful place to start your research. Citizenship and Immigration Canada also provides a useful introduction to banking in Canada. Some restrictions may apply when opening a Canadian bank account.
Buy a Canadian cell phone or SIM card
The Office Of Consumer Affairs (Industry Canada) provides a series of resources on shopping for a cell phone and service plan. The three major cell phone providers in Canada are Bell, Rogers, and Telus. Other providers in the Ottawa area include Koodo, Fido, Virgin Mobile, and Wind. Before committing, consider whether you are interested in a long-term contract, a pre-paid/pay-as-you-go plan, or a month-to-month plan. Be sure to take your time to explore your options and, whatever option you choose, make sure you understand all the details including all fees that will appear on your monthly bill and any penalties for exceeding your minutes/data or cancelling your service. If you intend to use your phone to make international calls, be sure to consider what plans or apps will be most practical and economical for your purposes.
Shop for the basics
Moving to Ottawa for another country means you will have to purchase many of the basic items for your room or apartment once you arrive here in the city. Below are some shopping destinations accessible from campus to help you get started.
Shopping Malls: South Keys Shopping Centre is located on the O-Train line (Greenboro Station), and includes a variety of stores including Loblaws (grocery), WalMart, Winners (clothing/household goods), Bulk Barn (dry goods), Staples (office supplies), and Future Shop (electronics), among others. The Rideau Centre is a large mall located in downtown Ottawa (from campus, take bus #4, direction Rideau Centre). Other Ottawa area malls, slightly further away, include the Bayshore Shopping Centre and the St. Laurent Centre.
Second Hand/Used: You may be able to find many of your required clothing and household items at a second hand or used stores. These include Value Village (1824 Bank St. and 1375 Clyde Ave.) and the Salvation Army (1322 Carling Ave. and 2654 Alta Vista).
Groceries: In general, avoid purchasing food items at corner or convenience stores as they will often charge higher prices. Many grocery stores will offer a student discount on a certain day of the week so be sure to bring your Campus Card with you. When shopping for groceries, bring your own reusable bags as grocery stores in Ottawa charge a small fee for the disposable kind.
The Ontario photo ID card is a piece of government-issued photo ID for Ontario residents who do not have a provincial driver’s license. This is not a mandatory piece of identification, but many international students find it useful as it allows them to leave hard-to-replace documents, like passports, at home as they go about their day-to-day activities.
Visit us at the ISSO!
Visit our office at 128 UC. Throughout the year, the ISSO offers a variety of social programs and student services that will help you adjust to life in Ottawa and at Carleton. We are here to help you!