Student life in Calgary

Discover the advantages of studying in one of the most dynamic cities in Canada


By João Cortez e Rodrigo Leme

Translated by Loretta Murphy

We chose Canada for an exchange since it is the second largest country in the world, with about 34 million people – less than the population of the state of São Paulo, which has nearly 42 million people. Also, the country’s quality of life is among the top three in the world, according to the UN.

But where was the best city for two young adventurers to do an exchange?

Calgary, Alberta was the chosen destination for the exchange because it is the third most populous city in Canada and is considered the second best city to live in the country, and fifth in the world.

Initially, the idea was just to study the language, but after we arrived in June of 2012, our passion for the country made us extend our plans as students, to that of possible immigrants. This was mainly due to the possibility of applying our international careers in the local labour market.

We agreed that infrastructure, quality of life, organization and efficiency of government departments, are other attractions found here as well as across the country. In addition to the ease of entrance into Canada, the cost of living which is considerably cheaper than in the United States and Europe, was also a factor that we analyzed. A further requirement that was paramount to the English course in Calgary was the fact that it does not receive as many Brazilians as the more popular destinations (Toronto, Vancouver), thus facilitating the process of immersion and learning. There are schools that offer classes for all levels, including those who come here unable to speak a word of English.

The economic boom boosted by the oil industry in the province of Alberta has turned Calgary into a bustling centre, with a significant increase in the flow of vehicles and people, causing traffic problems that did not exist 10 years ago. We use public transportation because, with the same ticket (C$ 3.00), you can use the C-Train or bus for a period of 90 minutes. In our case, we use a monthly pass (C$ 94.00), which allows for unlimited access. The C-Train has two lines, both running through downtown: one runs from South to the extreme NW; and the other runs from the NE to the West.

Currently, the best areas to live in Calgary today are the South, Southwest Northwest and West. The rent ranges from C$ 1,000 (one bedroom and living room or small condo) to C$ 1,800 (3 bedroom house). Supermarkets or department stores are the best places for shopping. For those who are just arriving, department stores offer a wide variety of products with good prices. Typically, the monthly supermarket expenditure for a couple costs around C$ 500 to C$ 800.

Entertainment in Calgary, such as museums, theatre, clubs and concerts, ranges from C$ 6.00 to C$ 90.00 per person. However, there are free options for entertainment in public parks where you can go hiking, cycling or even have a picnic.

João Cortez (26, Fisheries Engineer) and Rodrigo Leme (24, Zoo Technologist) met at the University of São Paulo, Pirassununga, SP, Brazil, where they studied. After finishing their studies, they decided to improve their English abroad.