Canada study visits

Most study visits include a chance to visit a leading university, but this is followed by some general sightseeing. Because they are quite busy days, we have to say that the focus of most study visits is not shopping!

Our Canada programme is a little different from the others, because the last week is taken up by an educational tour without formal courses.

Please remember that it is also possible to spend a week in Berkeley, California, before starting in Calgary.

If you’d like to see how this programme works in practice, please look at the timetable.


Half-day trip to Calgary city

On this afternoon trip, you’ll see the highlights of the city, including the high-rise buildings of downtown, the scenic Bow River and the park where the famous Calgary Stampede is held.

Day trip to Edmonton

Edmonton (population: just over 1 million) is the capital of the province of Alberta, and it’s about a three-hour drive from Calgary. It’s an attractive modern city, with a great location on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.

Our visit begins at the University of Alberta:

University of Alberta, Edmonton

The University has a really prominent location itself on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, just opposite the city centre on the other shore. It has its own metro station and bus terminus, and it’s very easy to get to and from most other parts of the city. Some of the buildings are historical and have a certain character, but most are more modern.

The University has around 40,000 students (and with 15,000 staff it’s actually the fourth largest employer in the province of Alberta). It offers around 200 undergraduate programmes across 18 faculties. Its professors have won more awards for teaching excellence than those of any other Canadian university. The University is universally recognised as one of the major research establishments in Canada.

In addition to the main campus, the University has another, the North Campus, not very far away, and additional locations in and around Edmonton.

As a large university, Alberta can offer a great range of facilities and services.   There are over 450 student clubs and associations, so pretty much every interest is catered for! It also has its own shopping mall/food court called The Hub, a very lively place for students to meet.

Edmonton city

After visiting the University, you’ll go into the city centre. The highlight is probably the legislature of the province (a sort of parliament), which has a great location on the banks of the river.

Next, you go to West Edmonton Mall, where you have time to explore at your leisure! When it was first opened, in 1981, this was the largest mall in the world. It has now been overtaken by a number of others, but it’s still the largest in North America, and offers over 800 stores and services. Included in the mall are a huge waterpark, a sea life exhibition, an ice-skating rink – and a huge food court, where we suggest you buy dinner (on this trip we include lunch, but not dinner).

While you’re in Calgary, you’ll also visit the University of Calgary, but we describe that in study centres.

The tour

At the end of the programme, you’ll enjoy a six-night tour from Calgary, all the way across the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver. (Please note that the accommodation from this point on is mainly in dormitories in youth hostels or similar. As usual, we include breakfast and either lunch or dinner.)

Day 1. Today you leave Calgary and quite quickly enter the Rocky Mountains. Based in the tourist town of Banff, you first of all visit a famous waterfall, then a thermal area. In the afternoon, the group splits: one half climb a mountain, the other half go canoeing on the river! And then you swap over. So be prepared for an energetic and adventurous afternoon… In the evening, you have some time to explore the shops of Banff before a relaxing end to the day in the hot pools. Overnight: Banff

Day 2. You set off early for Lake Louise. This famous lake, one of Canada’s best-known tourist attractions, has a huge and very exclusive hotel on one side, a huge mountain on the other. Just a little further is Moraine Lake. Not quite as famous as Lake Louise, it’s possibly even more spectacular, with huge mountains coming right down to the water’s edge.

After a lunch break at Lake Louise, you carry on along the Icefield Parkway. On the way, you’ll see lakes, mountains, waterfalls… and have the chance to walk up to the edge of a glacier!

The day ends near the mountain resort of Jasper. Overnight: Jasper

Day 3. You spend the morning in the Jasper area, starting off with a visit to the Maligne Canyon. This is a really impressive spot, with huge amounts of water surging through a narrow gap between rocks. After that, you see the tranquil Pyramid Lake before returning to Jasper.

In the afternoon, we take the long trip across the mountains and into British Columbia, stopping along the way to see Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. In the evening, you arrive in the town of Kamloops. Overnight: Kamloops

Day 4. You start the day with a visit to the British Columbia Wildlife Park. Along the way, you will have heard a lot about the wildlife of Canada, but probably won’t have seen very many bears or wolves. But here you will! This is not a normal zoo – it’s all about the fauna of this part of the country.

After this visit, there’s time for lunch in Kamloops (there may also be the chance to visit Thompson Rivers University, which is based there). In the afternoon, you set off for Vancouver. Overnight: Vancouver

Day 5. Vancouver (population: 2.5 million).

Vancouver is Canada’s third largest city. It’s a lively, modern city, with a great location between forested mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

On your first day in Vancouver, your visit starts with a look at Simon Fraser University:

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

The original Simon Fraser was a fur trader and explorer, who helped to open up British Columbia to European settlement. The University which bears his name has an unusual location: it sits on the top of a large hill called Burnaby Mountain. It’s around 20 kilometres from here into the centre of Vancouver; first of all, you take a bus down the mountain, and then there’s a fast train into the city proper.

The campus dominates the top of Burnaby Mountain, the slopes of which are densely forested, and home to a lot of wildlife, including bears! There are great views across the city in one direction, and then over to the mountains in the other. The modernist buildings are on a grand scale, and suggest a city centre as much as a university. The campus has its own shopping street, and a limited amount of student accommodation. Also on campus are great sports facilities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool, museums and art galleries.

SFU has around 35,000 students, and around 20% of these are internationals. Although it’s a relatively new university (founded in 1963), it has raced ahead to become one of the top ten in the country.

SFU has a strong presence in Vancouver, and you see signs promoting it all over the city. In addition to Burnaby Mountain, there is in fact a downtown campus, located in a prominent building in a central location. A third campus is in the town of Surrey.

After the University visit, you’ll be exploring the city of Vancouver. Downtown is a busy, exciting area, and you’ll see the sharp contrast between the modern office buildings and the older part of the city called Gastown. You’ll also go to Granville Island. This used to be an industrial area, but now it’s a great mixture of shops, markets, park and riverside. You’ll also find the Emily Carr University of Art and Design located on the Island, and if you’re interested we should be able to arrange a visit. There’ll be time for you to explore the Island in small groups.

Overnight: Vancouver

Day 6. Vancouver

Your second full day in Vancouver begins with a short trip to Point Grey, and the University of British Columbia.

University of British Columbia, Vancouver (UBC)

UBC occupies the tip of Point Grey, a large peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. The city proper ends, there is then a large green area (Pacific Spirit Regional Park), and then the campus begins. UBC is really like a city in its own right, with its shopping centre, food courts and bus station, as well as the usual university facilities. The various university buildings are to be found along a series of parallel malls. Also on the campus are the Museum of Anthropology, a botanical garden and a performing arts centre. First-year students are generally accommodated in one of the large halls of residence to be found on the edge of the campus.

UBC has around 40,000 students in total, and is regarded as one of Canada’s greatest universities. Its entrance requirements are the second highest in the country. In total, there are 12 faculties covering an extensive range of academic subjects, and with many ranked in the top 100 worldwide. The library is the second largest research library in the country.

Given the large number of students studying at UBC, it’s not surprising that it has a large number of clubs and societies, and the facilities for sports and the arts are excellent.

UBC also has another campus, Okanagan, located in the inland town of Kelowna.

After your presentation at UBC, and a tour of the campus, you go to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) on the campus itself. The Museum has a great range of exhibits from around the world, but our particular reason for going there is to learn about the original inhabitants of Canada – now known as ‘First Nations’ – and their cultures.

Later in the day, we’re going down to the beach for a new activity – paddleboarding!

Overnight: Vancouver

Day 7. Sadly, this is departure day, so you say your good-byes and head off to Vancouver Airport.