Adjust to a New Culture

Academic culture in Canada

At SFU, you'll meet many faculty and staff members dedicated to your success. There are also numerous programs and services available to support you throughout your academic career. Familiarize yourself with the resources available, including academic advising, library and learning skills workshops, English support and more. Remember that academic success is not simply a result of studying hard, but also of a balanced, healthy and organized lifestyle. Take time to build friendships and enjoy your leisure time.

Faculty: Professors and Instructors

Student-faculty relationships may be more informal than in your home country. At the beginning of the course, the professor will let the class know how he or she prefers to be addressed. If you're unsure, it’s always safe to say “Professor” or “Doctor” followed by their last (family) name.

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistants (TAs) are usually responsible for tutorials/labs. Your TA is responsible for helping you understand the course material, and in some cases, for grading some of the coursework. TAs are often Master's or Doctoral students.

Office Hours

Your instructor and TA will set office hours when you can meet to discuss questions or concerns. If you have questions, concerns about your ability to meet a deadline, challenges with English or any other issues related to your success in a course, meet with them as soon as possible. Some instructors and TAs prefer you to make an appointment; if so, they will let you know at the beginning of the course. If office hours conflict with another class, professors and TAs are often willing to make an appointment for an alternative time. Be on time for your appointments and call in advance if you must cancel.

Academic Advising Support for Graduate Students

As a graduate student, you should seek academic advice or support from your supervisor. The Graduate Secretary in your department and the Office of the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows will also be valuable resources during your program.

Academic Advising Support for Undergraduate Students

  • If you haven't declared a major, Academic Advisors offer advising services to help you plan your academic program and select courses. They offer advice in person, by phone, or via LiveHelp messaging. For more details, visit the Academic Advising website.
  • If you have declared a major, Departmental Advisors can help with course selection and applications to enroll in major/minor/extended minor plans. They can also answer questions about requirements for course enrollment and refer you to faculty or other advising staff. Faculty Advisors will explain and check the status of your faculty and degree requirements.  See the SFU Advisors page to find contact information for your Departmental or Faculty Advisor.