Staying Connected - Online Resources and Activities

Updated August 19, 2020

We know that isolating in a new and different country presents many challenges, one of which may be a lack of social activities and opportunities to make new friends. Although many of our usual programs and events are not taking place in person, there are options for you to connect virtually with others, both during and after your quarantine period. We have listed some of the opportunities below.

How can I connect socially with other students while physical distancing or self-isolating?

ISS is offering a number of online events and opportunities to help you safely connect with your peers. See our Events and Programs page for information.

You can also visit SFU's Community Connection page for other events being offered by the SFU community.

You can join the Global Connections Program and request immediate virtual support from a peer mentor.

Sign up for our new ‘Life in Vancouver’ course designed specifically for new international students. Learn more about Vancouver, its sights, culture and neighbourhoods, and connect with other international students: Register here.

Make sure to follow both SFU and ISS social media channels for updates and news. 

I'm a new international undergraduate student at SFU. How can I meet people and make friends?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Join the SFU 2020 Facebook group for new students
  • Find student clubs and other social supports on the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) website
  • Attend SFU’s ISS online events, or check out the other virtual events listed on SFU's Community Connection page
  • Sign up for the Global Connections Program. This is a peer-support program designed to help new students from international pathways by providing the opportunity to learn about SFU’s culture, while making new friends and exploring what the community has to offer. You can request to be matched with a peer mentor to support you and answer your questions one-on-one about all aspects of life at SFU.
  • If you haven’t already - check out the HIVE Program available through SFU 101. All new students have the opportunity to be grouped virtually with fellow students - a great way to meet new people and participate in fun and interactive events. 
  • Check out opportunities in your faculty. Most faculties have departmental student unions or other ways to volunteer, get involved, and meet other new students. 

I'm a new international graduate student at SFU. How can I start connecting with my peers?

Here are a few suggestions:

Students with families:    

Suggested Self-Isolation Tips and Activities

Top 10 Self-Isolation Tips from our Global Peers

The Global Community Peer Education program is a group of volunteers who work in the Global Student Centre at SFU Burnaby campus, and help promote diversity and inclusion through cultural events and educational programming. We asked them for their tips on how to keep busy and entertained while self-isolating – here are some of their suggestions!

1. Bring something with you for entertainment: books, video games, games, puzzles, materials for crafts (knitting, sewing). Also, if possible, bring a computer and phone with you as it will be difficult to buy these items immediately upon arrival in Canada. (However, some stores like Best Buy offer online orders that you can ship to your place of residence.

2. Sign up to streaming services: most streaming services are currently offering free trials; use your SFU email address to sign up! (Also – as an SFU student you have access to a large variety of movies through our online library – check out Criterion on Demand.

3. Try your hand at learning new recipes – there are numerous online tutorials to check out!

4. Create a daily journal to record your thoughts or stories, or create a daily Vlog.

5. Try a new exercise activity; many trainers and fitness clubs are offering free workouts online. Alternatively, try out one of SFU Recreation’s free online workouts. 

6. Create a scrapbook, or sketch using free online software like Sketchpad.

7. Take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with some of SFU’s resources; there are guides available to help you get started in online learning, using the library, or even building your resilience skills! (Canvas - Learning Management Software Guide, Library SkillsOnline Resilience Course) In addition, all students returning to campus must first complete an online COVID-19 awareness course. Take some time to complete it now- Sign up here

8. Take the stress out of meal preparation; try your best to stock up on ready-to-eat food (either order online or bring with you – more information on ordering supplies online is included later). Examples include: snack foods, ready to make oats, dry fruits, coffee, tea packs, milk powder, noodles, energy bars, healthy powder-based drinks that you can just mix with water or milk.

9. Relax and unwind with a colouring app. Both Pigment or Colorfy offer paint, colour and drawing games, with realistic online colouring book options.

10. Take the opportunity to brush up on your English skills (or learn another language!)     

  • Try out apps like Duolingo (online lessons), or HelloTalk - a language exchange app that allows you to chat with native speakers around the world to learn a new language, and to teach yours! You can chat with language partners via text, voice recordings, voice calls and doodles. Download the free App or visit the HelloTalk website.
  • YouTube : Many channels offer lessons, for example: English class 101Rachel's English, and BBC Learning English.

14 Activities for 14 Days in Self-Isolation

Staying indoors for 14 days can be a challenge for anyone. However, there are a lot of activities that you can check out that go beyond streaming movies and games. We have used some of the tips from our global peers, and compiled a list of possible activities to keep you busy each day of quarantine.

Day 1

Welcome to Vancouver and to our SFU community! Get oriented with some of what Vancouver has to offer by checking out virtual tours and webcams around the city.

Day 2

Your first full day in a new country, and in isolation, might feel a bit lonely. Take time today to connect with friends or family – a Zoom call, Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp or Messenger apps can help you keep in touch and video call your loved ones. If this isn’t possible, consider beginning a journal or a Vlog to reflect on your experiences and to record your thoughts and goals as you move into your new student life.

Day 3

Are you looking to meet new people and connect with others at SFU? Check out the Community Connection website to find an online activity to attend. There is a large range of social, mental wellness, faith-based, and internationally-focused events for you to join. Alternatively, check out the list of student clubs at SFU that are available for you to join.

Day 4

Hopefully you are now getting settled in your new place, and are recovering from any possible jet lag. Time to get moving! Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the SFU recreation department’s healthy at home initiatives. Whether you want to get active with a live workout, or do some yoga, or stretching and meditation – there are options available for you.

Day 5 

Thinking of trying out a new hobby to keep yourself busy during times of self-isolation and physical distancing? Here is a list of ideas to get you started.

Day 6 

If you are missing travelling, and checking out attractions - take a virtual tour! Here is a list of museums, zoos, aquariums, and theme parks around the world that you can check out from home.

Day 7

Are you feeling nervous about learning in an online environment? Check out the SFU Library, and resources available for you. In particular, find resources on how to prepare for, and how to navigate online learning - Success strategies for online courses during COVID-19.

Day 8 

Congratulations - you have made it more than halfway through your self-isolation period. Celebrate and take a dance break! Don’t know how to do a particular dance? Try out a new style and take a lesson via YouTube. Want to do the Dab? Bollywood? Bellydancing? Afrobeats? Pump some music and get moving!

Day 9 

Did you know that SFU has an observatory? Even though the public starry nights events are currently on hold – there are other live streams and videos to watch if you want to see the night sky in more detail. 

Alternatively, download the SkyView app on your phone to view distant constellations, nearby planetary objects and more!

Day 10

Are you having trouble thinking of what to eat, or what meals to plan for the rest of your self-isolation period? Why not join an online cooking class, or follow some local or international You-Tubers for recipe inspiration.

Day 11

Today, take some time to get creative. Try your hand at a new craft, or learn a magic trick.

Day 12 

You are nearing the end! Take some time today to take care of yourself. Check out many of the resources and events available through SFU’s Health and Counselling department. 

Building resiliency skills is more important than ever. Take some time to browse this free online course or join a virtual workshop (schedule dependent). 

Day 13 

Challenge your brain today with a new language. Download the Duolingo or Hello Talk apps to get started.

Day 14 

Congratulations – you made it to the end of the 14-day self-isolation period.

Relax, and unwind with a movie or documentary - try out a film from another country!