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Living in Canada

The seasons in Canada are:

(September 21 to December 20)

In Kingston, the temperature range is historically from -9 ° to +20 ° celsius (C).   September is almost as warm as the summer but October through to December can often require winter clothing.   Buy high-quality winter coats with hoods, long pants, sweaters and waterproof boots or shoes for you (and your family, if applicable).

(December 21 to March 20)

In Kingston, the temperature range is historically -25 ° to +3 ° C.   Snow falls and stays on the ground most of the time. January and February are the coldest months of the year and can be bitterly cold.   It can be so cold outside that it is dangerous to go out with any skin exposed.   Get thermal underwear tops and bottoms and wool socks for you (and your family, if applicable).   Windproof hats, thick mittens, scarves and warm, waterproof boots are essential.   For more information, see our  Learning to Love Winter information or consider attending our “Learning to Love Winter” session (usually in early October, and repeated in January for Winter arrivals).

(March 21 to June 20)

In Kingston, the temperature range is historically -6 ° to +21 ° C and there is a lot of rain during this period. In March and April, you will need to wear sweaters and windproof and rainproof jackets and rainproof shoes. In May and June it gets warm enough to go outside without a coat on.

(June 21 to September 20)

In Kingston, the temperature range is historically 11 ° to 30 ° C. Summer is sometimes very hot and humid while at other times it is wet and windy. You should have shorts and T-shirts but also sweaters and long pants.

To find out the weather for the day, listen to any Kingston radio station or look at the front page of any newspaper. Another resource is Environment Canada’s weather website  or the Weather Network website.  The weather report gives the temperature in degrees Celsius and information on the amount of rain, snow and sun that we will have.

Note: The dates of each season are according to the calendar. Unseasonably warm or cold weather is always possible.   It is important to be prepared.

Another way to decide what to wear is to look outside and see what most people walking by are wearing.   However, it is always better to put on extra layers of clothing if you are not sure of how many you will need.   Then you can take one or two layers off if you get too hot during the day. It is especially important, if you have children, that they are warmly dressed for school as part of the day is spent outdoors.

If you are not used to northern climates, talk to the staff at the Centre about other ways to prepare yourself so that it is not such a shock. Despite the cold, there are a lot of fun activities you can do in the winter if you are warmly dressed. The Queen’s University International Centre plans activities to help you and your family discover and enjoy winter games like skating.
Electricity and power plugs and sockets in Canada
You could find converters in Canada from many stores such as: Canadian Tire, Rona, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, etc.

Adapting to a New Culture
Feelings of anxiety from being immersed in a new culture is sometimes  called “Culture Shock”.   Although Canadians come from a very wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the environment is bound to be different than the one you are used to, and many things will be done differently and can cause confusion.

Most of your experiences in Canada are going to be pleasant ones. However, if you have a disagreeable experience, please talk it over with someone of your cultural background who has been in Kingston for a while, or discuss it with one of the International Student Advisers at QUIC. Through discussion with others, feelings of anxiety or anger can be diffused and made easier to cope with.

Another way to help you understand and manage the differences in culture and values is to learn about the history and culture of the community. Participate in activities that include Canadians and International students and their family members. This will lead to friendships that will enable you to cope with culture shock.
Some ways offered by the Queen’s University International Centre to learn more about Canada and Canadians.

  •   Orientation and Welcome activities at the Queen’s University International Centre
  •   Bus trips to Ottawa and Niagara Falls
  •   Thanksgiving Dinner
  •   “Learning to Love Winter” Sessions
  •   Winterlude Festival
  •   Skating and Winter Activities

Visit our Calendar of Events, register for our e-mail distribution list and read Queen’s and Kingston newspapers to find out what is going on in your community.

Clubs and Organizations associated with QUIC

Information on clubs associated with QUIC can be found on our Associated Clubs page.  Although there are many students in these groups, spouses of students are also welcome! You can also see a directory of student clubs on the AMS clubs web page.

Other Resources

CBC Radio (at 107.5 FM) in Kingston is good to listen for information on Canadian and multicultural programs. This station is also helpful if you want to improve your understanding of English. Some of the television programs on CBC-TV give genuine portrayals of events in Canadian history or present social and political issues of concern to Canadians.

Immigrant Services Kingston and Area provides a range of programming and services for recently arrived Permanent Residents. They are located at 837 Princess Street.

Public Holidays

  • New Year’s Day – the first day of the new year, January 1st
  • Family Day – the third Monday in February.
  • Good Friday – the Friday before Easter Monday, usually near the beginning of April
  • Victoria Day – Queen Victoria of England’s Birthday, third or fourth Monday in May
  • Canada Day – the birthday of Canada as a country, July 1
  • Civic Holiday – the first Monday in August
  • Labour Day – recognizes workers, the first Monday in September
  • Thanksgiving – to celebrate the quality of life we have in Canada – the second Monday of October
  • Christmas Day – the recognizing the birth of Jesus – December 25th
  • Boxing Day – a day to clean up after Christmas – December 26th

Staying Happy and Healthy
It is natural to feel lost and lonely at the beginning of your time in Kingston. This is why it is important to be good to yourself – to your mind and to your body.

Make sure that you and your family are eating healthy food, and are getting enough physical exercise. Every one needs fresh air and should spend some time outside every day. If you stay in an en-closed environment for too long, you tend to be more susceptible to illness. Also, try to find someone who you can to talk to, at length about your personal issues and who offers support to you.

The best way to maintain the state described above is to find a group of people who will be your community support. There are often families who live in the area who will participate in activities together, so attempt to contact them. People with a similar background may also create a homely atmosphere, which will alleviate stresses of living in a new country. Belonging to such a group is a good way to find out where to buy food, to find inexpensive shopping, to get together for a healthy walk or bike ride and to share stories of pleasant and frustrating experiences you can have living in a different place.

Everyone, whether a student or parent or worker, needs some time off to relax, to be with friends and to rejuvenate their bodies and minds.

Some ideas for relaxing with friends, by yourself or with your family are:

  • Walk around Downtown
    Enjoy the stores, cafes, the parks, the waterfront, and whatever is going on.
  • Go to Wolfe Island
    Take the ferry (free of charge)  and go for a picnic lunch or take bikes and ride around the island.
  • Take a Tour of the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area
    Hike in an area preserved for plants and wildlife and learn about Ontario’s natural environment.
  • See the Locks at Kingston Mills
    Enjoy the scenery in the summer, fall and spring. Take a picnic lunch or a book to read.
  • Hike or Bike at Fort Henry Hill
  • Skate at Market Square behind City Hall (in the winter)
  • Swim or workout at Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) or a City of Kingston Pool

You may want to get more details about a particular part of living in Canada or discuss an experience you have had already. The International Student Advisers are  available to give advice and hear about any concern you have about you and your family’s adaptation to Canada.

Further Questions?
If you have further questions, after reviewing the information above, advising is available (without an appointment) from the International Student Advisers at the Queen’s University International Centre from Monday to Friday between 9:00am and 4:00pm.

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