Red Deer Public School District - International Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) asked by incoming International Students

Who should study abroad?   The BIG question ;-) !

One of the most commonly asked questions about studying abroad is what type of person should go. Before deciding to live overseas you should examine what types of qualities in people are desirable for such an experience. Studying abroad is not for everyone, and you should think seriously about your decision before applying to a overseas study placement. These are some of the desirable qualities that exchange and international students should have in order to make their experience the most rewarding:



While living and studying in a foreign country, you will have to be very independent and self-reliant. Once you leave home you will be leaving your friends, family, culture and sometimes language. Most exchange students arrive at their host school not knowing anyone in a completely unfamiliar environment. When students study abroad, they quickly have to take charge of their own affairs and learn how to live independently in a foreign country. Self-reliance is important if you have to learn bus routes, register for courses, and pay bills in a unfamiliar country, perhaps even in an unfamiliar language. Being able to do things for yourself is a quality that all international students need.


Keeping an open mind is something that can't be understated in the study-abroad experience. When you live in a foreign country for an extended period of time you will be exposed to cultural norms and values that will often be contrary to your own. When you are exposed to foreign customs and different way of thinking it is often tempting to negatively react to the culture that you have been exposed to. One of the greatest traps people living abroad fall into is spending the entire duration of their trip being critical of where they are. In order to have a positive experience in another country you will have to keep and open mind to new and different ways of thinking. Instead of labelling foreign cultural norms as "wrong" you should simply think of them as "different".

Looking on the bright side

Having a good attitude towards what do while abroad will definitely affect the quality of your trip. You will have to accept the fact that you will have some bad luck and everything will not always go as planned while travelling. Luggage gets lost, buses aren't always on time and the weather won't always be nice. The most important thing that you can do is cope with change and problems in a positive way. Your attitude and outlook on life will pretty much determine whether or not you have fun on you trip (and having fun is sort of the point, right?). Being an optimist rather than a pessimist is generally a good rule for anything you do in life but it is particularly important if you plan on living abroad.

Sense of Adventure

If you want to get the most of out of your experience overseas than you're going to have to have a sense of adventure. The best way to experience a new culture is to do new things that you probably wouldn't do at home. You should be at least a little bit adventurous when it comes to trying new food, listening to different music and speaking the local language. The more of a new culture you try to experience, the more you will feel part of it. Unlike an average tourist, if you choose to live abroad you will have more opportunity try out new things and be more a part of the local scene. If you're a bit adventurous than you'll have a more exciting and interesting time.


Going to school in a foreign country can result in a fairly serious lifestyle change for students. You should be able to adapt to change in general and not be too rigid and set in your ways. Most students who have done exchange programs or studied internationally before say the best advice is to just "go with the flow"

Other Questions:

Do you have an orientation week?

  • We do not have a week long of activities but we do have several orientation days prior to school beginning. Students arrive several days before the start of school to complete paper work, get to know one another and undergo English As Second Lanugage (ESL) testing.

What day do you prefer the students to arrive?

  • Students should arrive 5 days prior to the start of school.

How much is an extra night?

  • $25.00 per night 3 meals included.

When do the students have vacations?

  • Students have 2 weeks at Christmas and 10 days at Easter in addition to several long weekends throughout the year.

Can they travel by themselves to different cities on vacation?

  • No, not unless we have specific written permission from the parents and travel is supported by  the host family and the homestay co-ordinator.

Do you have “custodian program” how much would it cost?

  • Yes in order to set up guardianship the cost is usually about $25 to $50 in order to get the papers notarized that are required by the Embassy in order to issue the study visa.

Does the school arrange any trips or activities?

  • International Students usually have a trip to Banff, Edmonton and Calgary over the course of the school year.  In addition there are other trips…such as ski trip open to the entire student body.  In addition, there is an international club that organizes student activities

Do we have to pay the rent directly to the host family or to the school?

  • You pay the school board and the school board makes payment to the host families.

Do you have French Immersion ?

  • Yes…students can start in kindergarten or grade one (early immersion) and late immersion in Grade 6.  French Immersion continues at high school in Grade 9.  International students who have already studied French may be able to enter French Immersion in grade 9 or later if they have the correct background.  In addition, we offer many levels of FSL (French as a Second Language).  Please note that the City of Red Deer is an English speaking community.

Do you assist in  the revalidation process?

  • Yes we can send the documents to the Mexican, Colombian or Brazilian Embassy for revalidation.

Is there any cost for revalidation?

  • The cost is usually around $125.00 which is charged by the Embassy and the lawyer to notarize the documents.  The fee includes shipping to the student by courier.

If students are unhappy with their homestay what happens??

  • We have a counsellor in each school who looks after international students.  If problems arise they let us know at International Services.  We try to work out the difficulties together.  If after intervention the student is unhappy  we will try to move the student to a new family.

Do international students  take regular classes with Canadians? How is the timetable organized?

  • Yes, students take 4 to 5 - 80 minute classes a day.  ( one or two of these classes will be ESL-depending on the level of the student.  The other classes will be Canadian students. All students in Middle school and High School have individual timetables.  Each class that you have will be with a different group of students.  

How many latinos do you have in your program (average)?

  • We have at least 5 Spanish speaking students in each of our high schools…from Columbia, Chile, Venezula, El Salvador.  In other years we have had students from Mexico.  Our international program endeavours to have a balanced mixture of  students from around the world.

How far are you from Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Jasper?

  • Calgary 120 kms
  • Edmonton 120 kms
  • Banff  300 kms
  • Jasper 400 kms

Is pick up at the airport included?

  • Yes at Calgary or Edmonton International Airports when you arrive and depart.  If you decide to fly home for a vacation at Christmas for example you will have to pay about $150 each way for a shuttle service.
  • How should I bring money to Canada??

You can bring money in several formats:

  1. Travelers' Cheques
  2. Bank transfer to your newly opened bank account in Canada
  3. Use a bank card
  4. Visa travel money.  See the link below for details on this new product.

How do I get to and from school?

  • Students living under 2.4 km from school are expected to walk to school or they may purchase a bus pass at full price.   Students living more than 2.4 km from school will take the bus.  The busses are both school busses and City of Red Deer busses.  Bus transportation is very safe in Canada and there are no personal safety issues when riding on a busses in Red Deer.  All students need to watch for traffic while entering and exiting buses.  Students living more than 2.4 kilometres from the school are entitled to a subsidized bus pass.

Can I bring my own computer?

  • Many host families have a computer that can be shared by members of the family.  In addition. there are many computers about one computer for every 3 students in Red Deer Public Schools.  In addition, computers are readily available for free use at local libraries.  If you decide to bring your own computer please keep in mind that it is to be used in common household areas of your host family.  Students are not permitted to use their personal computer in their bedroom.

How much luggage can I bring?

  • Here is a link to the rules for Air Canada but you should check with your own airlines as rules vary a great deal.

How old do you have to be to be an International Student?

  • Most international students in our program are aged 14-18 Grades 8-12. The majority live with homestay families.  We have younger international students in our program but they must live with a parent or relative in order to be accepted into the program.

What is the weather like in Canada and how do I prepare myself?

  • The seasons in Canada are:

    Fall or Autumn - September 21 to December 20
    In Red Deer, the temperature range is from -9 to +20 degrees 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 your family.

    Winter - December 21 to March 20
    The temperature range is -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 your family. Windproof hats, thick mittens, scarves and warm, waterproof boots are essential.

    Spring - March 21 to June 20
    The temperature range is -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.

    Summer - June 21 to September 20
    The temperature range is 11° to 30° C. Summer is sometimes very hot while at other times it is wet and windy. Your family should have shorts and T-shirts but also sweaters and long pants. To find out the weather for the day, listen to any radio station or look at the front page of any newspaper. Another resource is Environment Canada's website . The weather report gives the temperature in degrees Celsius and information on the amount of rain, snow and sun that we will have.

    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  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.

    Make the Most of Winter
    The document makes useful suggestions to help you make the most of life in Canada especially during the winter months.

How can I reduce Culture Shock?

  • Feelings of anxiety from being immersed in a new culture is 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 Red Deer for a while, or discuss it with one of the International Student Advisors at your school. 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.

Here are some ways offered by the Red Deer Public Schools International Services to learn more about Canada and Canadians.

  • Orientation Program Red Deer Public Schools
  • Bus trips to Clagary Edmonton and Banff
  • Thanksgiving Dinner *  
  • Skating and Winter Activities

If you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact us at International Services email