When Did Libraries Get So Cool?

“Everything you need for success and a better future has already been written. And guess what? All you have to do is go to the library.”  Henri Frederic Amiel

Courtesy of http://1.bp.blogspot.com
Courtesy of http://1.bp.blogspot.com

The differences between today’s university libraries and the ones ‘in my day’ are crazy.  Yikes, I can’t believe I just said, ‘in my day’.  Reading that almost made me spit my Earl Grey tea all over my plaid slippers.  Honestly, though.  Could studying in Canada get any more fantastic?  Cafes, wi-fi, and virtual lending?  Not to mention the sophisticated search engines available at the touch of a finger tip…amazing!

All of the world’s information is already conveniently cataloged by author, date, and publication.  What’s more, it’s cross-referenced and searchable by related sources, from scholarly articles to entire journals.  As an added bonus, search engines actually keep a log of all your searches, so even if you’ve forgotten what you were looking for, it’s a snap to retrace your steps and jog your memory.  Heck, the software will probably offer ideas you never considered.  Visiting ‘the library’ while still in the comfort of one’s favourite armchair at home is a concept I thought only possible in science-fiction stories.

All of the university campuses CultureWorks is affiliated with have state of the art libraries for our students to use.  Above and beyond searching and borrowing books, their services are astounding.

Courtesy of www.carleton.ca
Courtesy of www.carleton.ca

One feature of Carleton’s MacOdrum Library includes access to entire course guides, which gives you access to industry news and trends in a particular field.  So if you search engineering you can access additional recommended databases outside of the library’s collection and gain a variety of information on the engineering industry, including recent patents and current standards.

Courtesy of http://static.worldarchitecturenews.com
Courtesy of http://static.worldarchitecturenews.com

Any complaints students have had in the past about the difficulty of university library’s search engines will be a thing of the past.  At  UOIT, Google has partnered with the university to streamline the university experience with their Google Apps for Education.  Students now have UOIT specific gmail, calendar, and docs accounts, and will soon access a sophisticated Google Scholar search engine for researching papers.  Who isn’t familiar with Google, right?

Courtesy of www.cupwire.ca
Courtesy of www.cupwire.ca

At Western University’s Weldon Library, they offer a helpful research consultation service.  Expert librarians can be scheduled to meet and direct you to appropriate scholarly articles for your assignments, and show you how use the library’s resources most effectively.

My advice?  Never underestimate the effectiveness of a library for studying.  And with the welcoming atmosphere of today’s libraries, why wouldn’t you want to use them?  Using your phone you squeeze in research on the bus home, and when you go there always seems to be a comfortable place to sit, enjoy a drink, or sneak a nap between classes.  Not that I have ever done that before, no sir!…no, no, purely for academic purposes.  Ahem…Until next time!

Courtesy of www.myspace.com
Courtesy of www.myspace.com

Languages Canada accreditation

CultureWorks is proud to announce that our Ottawa campus is now officially Languages Canada certified.

Languages Canada is Canada’s premier language organization representing its two official languages: English and French. Membership is limited to schools which meet the rigorous standards of the association and who are committed to upholding them. Languages Canada is recognized by the Canadian government and internationally.

CultureWorks London and Oshawa are also accredited members of Languages Canada.

Congratulations to our Ottawa team!

Rent or Borrow?

Courtesy of http://www.canada-usblog.com
Courtesy of http://www.canada-usblog.com

One of our students told me a funny story once about renting a car to go over the U.S. border* for a visit.

He said he found a nice, two-door hatchback perfect for him and his friend.  Not too expensive with a great insurance package and return policy.

“So what’s the funny part?” I asked. “Sounds perfect to me.”

“I made a mistake in translation,” the student laughed.  “I told her I wanted to borrow the car.  I forgot the difference in meaning between ‘rent’ and ‘borrow’.  I got mixed up!”

“That’s an honest mistake! So what did the lady say?”

“She said, ‘Sure, you can borrow the car.  For $30.00 a day!’”

* If you plan on visiting the United States while you are studying in Canada, we highly recommend applying for a visitor’s visa before coming to Canada.

For more information on visiting the USA, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1262.html

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Show Me the Money Pt.2 ~ Budgeting

Courtesy of www.upload.wikimedia.org
Courtesy of www.upload.wikimedia.org

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the cultural significance of  money.  Now I thought I’d discuss how to budget and balance money while at university.

I have a very clear memory of the money jar my roommates kept in the top left hand kitchen cupboard in our Montreal apartment, just above the stove.  We agreed to deposit all of our loose change at the end of every day into the jar, as a way of forcing ourselves to save.  Every week the mason jar would fill up, and by month’s end we’d count our riches.  Keep in mind this was first year university, and our majors were music, fine arts, and literature.  We didn’t know very much about money, and math did not come naturally to us.  Garth, my big-haired, English major roommate, thought that if he spent more during the week he’d get more change, and, as a result, would save more in the jar.  Contrary to Garth’s illogic however, money isn’t like credit card points.  If you spend more, you do not save more.  Once we counted the money, we decided what to spend it on.  Laundry detergent?  Our cable bill?  Even though we had good intentions at the beginning of term, by November those ‘savings’ simply became a ‘pizza fund’.  Practical?  No.  Advisable? No. Delicious?  Yes!

Courtesy of www.miltonplanning.com
Courtesy of www.miltonplanning.com

There are three key areas to consider when budgeting for college or university. Tuition, Course Materials, and Living Costs.

Tuition differs from province to province in Canada.  Ranking lowest to highest is Quebec, Ontario, and B.C. Of course, tuition costs differ for domestic and international students, so I advice to take the time to research each before making a decision.  If you are an international student considering CultureWorks ESL and higher learning, you can find our tuition costs here.  It is important to note that Canadian tuition costs are MUCH cheaper than in the U.S.

Course materials are more predictable term by term, but on average you can budget around $800 to $1,000 per year for books, or a $100 per month, either for hard copy or electronic versions.

Courtesy of www.apps.carleton.edu
Courtesy of www.apps.carleton.edu

Living costs also vary by province.  If you choose to study in London, Oshawa, or Ottawa Ontario you can find a very spacious house to share between $700.00 and $900.00 a month. Residence is also a popular option, and you can expect to pay approximately $6,000 – $7,000 annually, or $700 per month.  You can find residence costs here for Western University, UOIT, and Carleton.  Homestays are another reasonable way to go, and can you find out about CultureWorks options here.

Courtesy of www.uoit.ca
Courtesy of www.uoit.ca

Take into consideration your food budget and transportation fees as well.  Compared to the U.S., England and Australia, food is considerably more affordable in Canada.  On average, students spend about $250 per month on food in Ontario.  Residences on campus offer meal plans that cost more than if living off campus, but have great value due to their convenience.  Bus passes can range between $200-$300 per month.

Lastly, there are budgeting tips and tricks that will save you money.  Living near campus will cut transportation costs, as you will be able to walk or bike.  Carpooling is a smart idea, too.  Buying used textbooks, cooking meals with friends for the week, avoiding the use of your credit card, looking for discounts with your student card, and researching grants and scholarships will all save you money in the long run.

Courtesy of www.edmonton.ca
Courtesy of www.edmonton.ca

Keep in mind that your education is an investment, and as such you will spend more up front.  If you budget wisely, you can still save and live comfortably and have confidence that your return on your investment will be very valuable.

I almost forgot to mention the value of living with roommates!  Cutting costs together will help everyone save.  Just don’t follow my example.  Choose friends with math skills!

Happy saving!

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