International Student Guide, Part 3: Getting Ready for School

Posted by Simone on August 30, 2016

Archive | On-board to York

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Hello again, international students! After having given you tips on how to prepare for your arrival in Toronto and making some suggestions about what to do once you get here , it is time now to talk about preparing for classes. These tips should make your first week of school a lot easier, so read on and prepare ahead.

Get your YorkU ID

a YU-card with a picture
A sample of a YU-card

Your first step to officially becoming a York University Lion is to get your YorkU ID, the YU-card. This card will allow you to use the library, buy food, purchase books or other items at the bookstore, use the Glendon-Keele Shuttle Service and more.

As a student who currently studies at both campuses, I rely daily on the Glendon-Keele Shuttle, which gets me from one campus to the other in about 30 to 45 minutes. If I had to take the TTC, it would take me an hour and a half each way. Better yet: the Glendon-Keele Shuttle is free! So I suggest visiting the YU-card office on either the Keele or the Glendon campus soon after you arrive in Toronto to obtain your official York ID. You will need to provide your York student number and a valid, government-issued photo identification (e.g. passport, driver’s license). Note that you will have your picture taken. (As an aside, early birds could have uploaded their YU-card photos online to skip the lineups, but the system is no longer accepting uploads now.)

Timetables and Class Locations

rows of white chairs
A typical University lecture hall before the beginning of class

The next step in preparing for school is to get familiar with class locations by checking them in advance and practicing how to get there, as well as keeping a copy of your timetable at the ready. Making your timetable is really easy. Once you have enrolled in your courses, you can plot your timetable on the Current Students page on the York University website.

While Glendon’s classes are mostly held in the same building, classes at Keele are spread out across several lecture halls. To learn more about the cosy Glendon campus, check out my colleague Rebecca’s post. Keele, on the other hand, is a very large campus, so be smart and, if you’re studying there, definitely check the locations of your classes beforehand, as well as the time it takes to get from one place to the next. You don’t want to get lost on campus or be late for your first class. When I changed from Glendon to Keele in my second year, it took me a whole day to find all my classes on the Keele campus.


books and a notebook stacked up
University course books

Something I learned in my second year is not to buy the books for your courses in advance. Professors may specify the required books for the course and then make changes to the selection, or, when classes start, you might find other students selling the used textbooks they no longer need. So if you want to save time and money, and avoid possibly having to return or resell your books, wait until the first day of class to make your trip to the bookstore . Some professors will even encourage you to buy a specific book during break or at the beginning of the first class, so there is no rush to buy all the books in advance. Another pro tip: ask your professor at the beginning of the course which books will actually be used in class. Some that are labeled “required” in fact are not, so it’s better to check. And in terms of saving money, you might also want to take a look at the YorkU Buy/Sell and Trade Network group on Facebook.


a wall of black bricks with the word "Residences" written on them in white.
Don’t forget to visit Housing and get your Meal Plan sticker

If you are living in residence, make sure to visit  Housing Services as soon as possible to get this year’s Meal Plan sticker to go on the back of your YU-card. This sticker will get you a tax exemption on the food you buy as part of the meal plan, since it is your primary source for meals.

Like many other students in first year, I didn’t initially know about this magical little sticker and only found out when I went to purchase something at the cafeteria. So don’t delay obtaining it — it’s worth your while.

Don’t be scared and enjoy your experience

a young bespectacled man standing close to the entrance sign of York University's Glendon campus.
Me on my very first day at Glendon

Last but not least, don’t be scared. Going to live in another country may feel nerve-wracking and overwhelming, but making this decision already speaks to your bravery. Besides, York does a wonderful job at providing you with all the help you need and making you feel at home. If you have any questions or concerns, there will always be someone you can talk to: York International is the main resource for international students; at the Writing Centre, you can learn how to improve your composition and grammar skills or get help with an essay; the Study Hub is a great online resource to helps you find study groups and other academic assistance; on YU Connect, you can explore the different organizations and clubs that York has to offer to keep you involved and build your soft skills. If you are studying at Glendon, you can count also on the GCSU, Glendon’s student union, and on Student Affairs, the main student resource for academic and student-life questions. Even your fellow students on the York Facebook groups will be happy to help you. Canadians are very friendly and will be interested in getting to know you and where you come from. Be ready to share your story and make new friends!

I think you’re just about ready for the first day of class now! If you have any questions or experiences to share, please use the comment section or tweet us at @yorkuniversity. We’ll talk more soon!


Simone Visentin is an international student at YorkU. He is working to complete his degree in Communication Studies at the Keele Campus and a certificate in Spanish-English translation at Glendon. He is passionate about languages and music. He speaks Italian, Spanish, English and French. He is also a songwriter, music producer and host for Radio Glendon.

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    Salam, I am an international student. Your Blog have been very helpful but I am at that stage where I am asked to enroll in my courses. Is it necessary to enroll in all the courses? When I enroll in a course a specific amount of money is added in My Student Account under “Current Balance.” What is this amount. Is it to be paid, if yes, how? Because every time I add a course a specific amount is added like for MATH 1025 the amount is $2691.27 . So if I add all of the 11 courses given to me in the list wouldn’t it make up a huge amount. Kindly guide me through this. It will be really appreciated. Thank You.