International Traveller

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International Students Love Montreal

Once again, Montreal has been ranked as the top North American city for international students in the highly prestigious QS University Rankings for 2018, the only Canadian city to make it to the top 10 most favoured slots. Noted by QS as Canada’s “cultural capital,” Montreal is applauded for its “multicultural makeup and inclusive ethos” as well as its laidback yet lively lifestyle, attractive boulevards, thriving creative industries, café culture, eclectic range of arts venues and nightlife—not to forget its internationally ranked universities. (McGill is currently ranked as 32nd in the world, and both the University of Montreal and Concordia University have also achieved respectable rankings.) To put matters in a tighter perspective, Montreal has slipped out of last year’s first-place ranking to be replaced in the #1 spot by London, then Tokyo, then Melbourne, in that order—but it remains ahead of all other Canadian cities and any or all…

How to Prepare for Emergency Situations at Home or Abroad

This week, Toronto is shaken after an attack with a rented van in the North York area has left 10 dead and 15 others wounded. In a city that is generally known to be safe, this tragic event feels particularly jarring. It’s difficult to predict senseless attacks such as this. And while Toronto is in mourning today, one horrific act of violence will not alter the character of the city: at large, Toronto is still a safe place. For travellers heading to Toronto or anywhere else around the globe, it’s important not to let events like this deter you from getting out there and exploring the world. Rather than avoid making plans, the best thing that you can do is be prepared in the event you encounter an emergency at home or abroad. Measures for keeping safe Be prepared: If you are heading abroad, make sure to remain informed…

Applying to a Canadian University? Join the Throng, But Plan Your Health Insurance Well

As Canadian universities step up recruitment of foreign students—whose tuition may range up to two or three times that of domestic students, depending on the province—some questions are being raised about the perception that domestic applicants may be losing out, even when they have higher grade point averages. In a contentious research report, University of British Columbia economist and associate professor Peter Wylie observes that some BC high school graduates are being denied entry to campuses of their choice or even forced to go out of province, while international students with the same or lesser grade point averages are being accepted. In response to Professor Wylie’s comments, UBC Vice-Provost Pamela Ratner, who oversees enrollments, charges that “it is a myth that international students displaced domestic students.” She adds that “international and domestic students do not compete with each other when UBC is reviewing student applications; they are adjudicated in separate…

Mental Health: Where can students find support?

Less than three weeks ago, on March 15, hundreds of students from the University of Waterloo walked out of their class to demand better mental health services on campus. Holding placards and chanting, the students each took it in turns to speak about their experiences with the university’s mental health services. Some spoke of long wait times to see a counsellor, while others said they felt “unheard” after meeting them. The protest, organized by the students themselves, was in response to the recent suicide death of a 22-year-old student who took his life at the university’s student residence at the beginning of March. It’s clear that there is a need for increased mental health support, and that applies to all walks of life – not just schools. School can be a difficult time for anyone, especially those travelling abroad to study. A young person is forced out of their…

Travel Insurance Sellers and Customers Need to Get on the Same Page

As Canadian insurance regulators intensify their efforts to enhance consumer protections and confidence in travel insurance, brokers and agents are faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, simplifying the purchase of products; on the other hand, ensuring they are appropriate for the specific health and travel needs of their customers. It’s a balancing act that often pits the imperatives of medical underwriters against those of marketers. And it doesn’t get any easier when clients in less-than-perfect heath are confronted by the need to complete—often by telephone, or via the Internet—health questionnaires replete with medical (and legal) terminology that requires searching out definitions further down the page or in another part of the policy. Interviewing applicants is no easy job For agents assisting customers in completing applications by phone, navigating through multilayered questions and recording their responses accurately is no easy job. Without actually recording the interviews, there is…

E-cigarettes: The Rise of Vaping and its Effects on International Students

Are you an international student? Do you smoke e-cigarettes? If you answered yes to both, then it may be time you double-checked the small print on your insurance policy. Many insurance plans do not cover injuries incurred while under the influence of illicit substances, something that is becoming increasingly common to add to e-cigarette devices. E-cigarettes (otherwise known as vapes) became hugely popular in the North American and European markets in 2009, with sales experiencing exponential growth ever since. It’s estimated that Canada has between 308,000 and 946,000 vape users, with numbers steadily climbing each year. Despite many governments around the world—including the US and the European Union—introducing new regulations to govern vaping, there has been a surge in children and young adults who are up the habit. It is believed that today more high school children and college students use e-cigarettes than those who smoke. While some scientists believe…

Five Tips to Speed up Your Travel Insurance Claim

When purchasing travel insurance, holiday-goers are buying into the promise that they will have peace of mind for their vacation. That doesn’t just involve accident or non-accident protection. It extends to the turnaround time of the insurance company once a claim has been made, and the speed in which the insured gets paid. Travellers are often worried about receiving payment from their insurance company after making a claim. What they don’t realize, however, is that insurance claim turnarounds are often held up due to a lack of healthorganization from the insured. Submitting your travel insurance claim correctly will help expedite the claims process. Read on to find out our top tips for submitting your travel insurance claim correctly. Choose wisely It’s important to choose the right travel insurance policy for you. The policy should cover your individual medical needs, should prepare you for non-medical assistance if needed, and should…

Mental Health: What it Means for International Students and How You Can Help

Travel blogs and the Instagram community have set a narrative, from the outside at least, that those who live abroad for an extended period of time are extroverts, with a healthy state of mind. This simply isn’t true, and I’m sure many of those bloggers will be the first to admit it. Travelling and studying abroad changes every aspect of a person’s life, and this, whether for better or worse (or both), has an impact on their mental health. Studying abroad takes courage. It requires a young person to jump into the unknown. The reality of studying abroad is that a young adult is taken out of their comfort zone; they are away from their childhood friends, in a different country to their family, and, in many cases, delving into an entirely new way of living and perceiving the world. This adjustment takes time. Those extra pressures are adding to…

Chinese New Year 2018: Why is it year of the dog and what does it mean?

Happy Chinese New Year 2018! The annual event marks one of the most colourful and lively celebrations, with festivals held in most major cities across the world. Chinese New Year brings with it vibrant parades and colourful celebrations, but what is Chinese New Year? When is it celebrated and what does it mean? Chinese New Year has become a global celebration. Not only is it celebrated by the country of China and those with Chinese ancestry, it’s celebrated by people from across the world, of all different cultures and religions. Some 3 billion trips are expected to be taken during the Chinese New Year, so travellers should be prepared for delays and security risks no matter where they’re heading. Here is everything you need to know about the Chinese holiday known as Spring Festival. How is Chinese New Year celebrated?  Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is…

Travel Insurance and Drinking: Read Your Policy

Last fall, the CBC brought widespread public attention to the case of a Canadian who, while visiting relatives in the US, fell down a flight of stairs after drinking alcohol, required treatment in hospital for a brain injury, and ultimately had his travel insurance claim denied, purportedly, because he had too much to drink. The response from some in the media was mainly critical of the insurer for not having “warned” the traveller ahead of time that an accident caused by alcohol impairment could invalidate his coverage That should not have come as a surprise to anyone as every travel insurance policy issued in Canada excludes coverage for medical emergencies caused or contributed to by alcohol—or other intoxicants—just as it excludes coverage for known unstable pre-existing conditions, terminal diagnoses, and failure by those insured to disclose their true medical conditions when applying for products. Travel insurance was never designed to…

Planning to Study Abroad in Canada? Here’s What You Need to Know about Health Coverage

Because I have a 15-year-old grandson who is intent on studying medicine, I have been paying very close attention to the growing tidal wave of international students applying to Canada’s universities. I should explain that although Zachary lives in the United States, he is a dual Canadian/US citizen, and would therefore have a clearer road to enrollment at, say, the University of Toronto or McMaster than would a student with no Canadian connection who would have to navigate the various visa requirements.  I am also very aware that Canadian medical schools are a lot cheaper than comparable-quality US schools. What my research has also turned up is that as of the last census taken by the Canadian Bureau for International Education, in 2015 there were more than 350,000 international full-time students enrolled in Canadian colleges—that is almost 100,000 more than five years earlier—and is getting very close to the 450,000…

Canadian Outbound Travel Forecasts and Safety Advice for 2018

With consumer confidence the highest it’s been in four years, and with overall travel numbers for the first eight months of 2017 up 5.3 percent over the same period in 2016 (23.1 million trips—not counting single-day, cross-border travel), it appears that Canadians will be taking to the roads, skies, and seas in near-record numbers in 2018.1 That’s a good thing. But with increasing options to visit farther-flung locations coming available, you will also have to become astute navigators and travel planners. What may be a prime vacation or tour destination one day can generate warning signals overnight that need to be spotted, heeded, and avoided. Fortunately, with phone and online access to government travel advisories instantly available, there is no reason for you to be short of current information when either planning or embarking on any trip to any location—and you should take no location’s safety for granted. For example,…