Staying Healthy & Health Services in Canada

Staying Healthy

Academic success is connected to good personal health and wellness. York University has several programs and resources available that are designed to keep you safe, healthy, and happy while studying.

It is important that you understand what your health insurance policies cover and how you can obtain medical treatment. Visit UHIP page for detailed information.
Becoming comfortable in a new place can be a slow process. Many students, even those from countries that are culturally or geographically similar to Canada, experience a challenging period of frustration or disenchantment with their new home. This experience is called 'culture shock' and is a normal part of adjusting to a new environment. Your transition to Canada will be made easier if you can recognize when you are experiencing culture shock. Be patient and allow yourself the time to adapt. Here are a few suggestions that can help make the transition easier:
  • Get involved in on campus clubs and activities.You will have fun and meet people.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family back home.
  • Stay healthy: eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising can reduce stress.
  • Talk with other international students about your experiences at York. You will discover that you are not alone.
  • Visit York International and speak with an advisor about your difficulties. They can help you through the challenging initial period in Toronto.

Understanding Canadian Values

Canada is a multicultural and diverse nation. Because of this diversity, it is difficult to generalize about shared values and culture. You will find exceptions to examples outlined below; however, these are values and traits commonly found across Canada:
  • Freedom and Individuality: Freedom and individuality are very important to Canadians, who are taught as children that they are responsible for their own lives. Canadians generally see themselves as individuals more than as members of a group or even a family.
  • Equality: Generally, Canadians believe that all people are equal and they expect others to behave accordingly.
  • Privacy: It is polite to ask about someone’s work or academic major, but it is generally considered impolite to ask or discuss someone's age, appearance (e.g., their weight), or status (e.g., how much their car costs).
  • Being on Time: It is important that you arrive on schedule for appointments, meetings, classes, and social engagements. If you cannot keep an appointment or are going to be late, it is expected that you inform those who are expecting you.
  • Informality: In most cases, Canadians relate to one another informally. It is acceptable for students to ask questions or even disagree with professors, if they do so respectfully. Students commonly wear casual attire on campus and use slang among friends.
  • Social Interactions: Canadians tend to be polite and apologetic. They say “please” and “thank you” often in social situations. When waiting in line, people line up in an orderly manner and expect others to do the same. When they interrupt or bump into one another, they may say, “Excuse me” or "Sorry."
  • Political Correctness: Many Canadians value political correctness, which means they avoid expressions or actions that could be insulting to others. Canadians believe themselves to be tolerant of different lifestyles and customs.
Toronto has four distinct seasons. Dressing appropriately for the weather will make your time at York much more enjoyable. For most students, the school year will begin at the end of the summer season, in the month of September. Summer runs from approximately early-June until early-September with normal temperature of 25ºC or warmer, often accompanied by high humidity. In Canada, people are free to wear whatever type of clothing that they choose. Regardless of style, you will appreciate light and breezy clothing for this time of the year. In mid-September, the season changes to autumn (also called ‘fall’). The temperature begins to cool as the days become shorter and the nights longer. Temperatures in autumn are typically between 10ºC and 20ºC. November is the final month of autumn, and is often rainy and cool. An umbrella and warmer clothing will be required for this season. Winter in Toronto begins in December and continues until March. Temperatures can be as low as -20ºC, however the temperature of an average winter day is between -5 ºC and 5ºC. You will need to wear a winter coat, winter boots, gloves and a warm hat. These items can be easily purchased while in Toronto, so there is no need to bring them from home. In March, the snow melts and the spring begins. You can expect warm weather and increasing hours of daylight, however spring also brings rain, so you will need to dress accordingly.
Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve mental focus. York has excellent athletic facilities that you can use. Make regular exercise a part of your new routine, and you will feel the positive results. If you are a competitive athlete, considering trying out for one of York’s elite varsity teams. If you prefer to play sports just for fun and exercise, there are many intramural teams that are ready to welcome you to the field or court. Visit the website of York’s Sports and Recreation department to see all of the options that are available to you.
Health Education and Promotion at York offers programs and resources for students through weekly events, exciting presentations, and they work behind the scenes to help make York a healthier place.


Because different countries and cultures have different laws and customs about alcohol consumption, it is important for you to know the rules that exist in Ontario. In Ontario:
  • The legal age to buy or consume alcohol is nineteen years. It is illegal to give alcohol to anyone under nineteen.
  • It is illegal to serve anyone of any age to the point of intoxication.
  • Alcohol can only be consumed in a private residence or in an establishment that has been licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). You can be charged and fined if you drink alcohol in any other public space.
  • Many bars, clubs and concert venues deny entry to anyone below nineteen years old. You will be required to show your passport or other legal identification to confirm your age before being allowed to enter.
  • Alcohol can only be purchased at government-controlled stores. Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores sell wine, spirits and beer, while The Beer Store only sells beer. You may be asked for photo identification whenever you attempt to purchase alcohol.
If you choose to drink alcohol please drink responsibly: know your limit and never drive or get into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking. If you have questions about how to drink safely and responsibly while in Canada, please read Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines


The York University Student Code of Conduct explicitly prohibits any student from possessing, consuming, manufacturing or distributing any illegal recreational drugs. Possible consequences for violating this regulation include expulsion from the university and/or criminal charges.


In Toronto, it is illegal to smoke inside of restaurants and bars. Smoking is permitted on designated outdoor patios. There is no smoking in any public buildings. York University is a smoke-free environment, which means that there is no smoking in any of the buildings on campus. Smoking is only allowed outside of the buildings.