VIP/VIS/UM Welcome Guide

Welcome guide

Welcome to the Visiting International Professor (VIP), Visiting International Scholar (VIS), or University Mentorship (UM) Program at Brock University!

Here at Brock, we are committed to the process of internationalization. This involves:

  • integrating a global perspective into the teaching, learning, research and service functions of our institution
  • developing, facilitating and strengthening international academic linkages
  • fostering international cooperation

This guide is designed to answer any and all questions that you may have while adjusting to life at Brock University, St. Catharines, and Canada. Therefore, check out each topic below to learn more!


To get to know Canada and Ontario, feel free to view the extensive workbook and fact sheets by Orientation to Ontario (O2O) here!

Everyday Living

You can find information about Off-Campus living, room rentals, and more here.

During the summer, Brock University offers their residences for rental to international students and visitors. For more information, click here.


There are other types of accommodations in St. Catharines and the area with varying rates. For specific information, please contact your place of interest.

Four Points by Sheraton (Hotel)
3530 Schmon Pky.

Heart of Niagara Hotels

If you have any questions regarding accommodations, please contact the Global Scholars Office at


Downtown St. Catharines is a great spot to find virtually anything that you need. Here you’ll find boutiques, antique stores, unique shops, book stores, shoes, leathers, jewellery, bistros, restaurants, outdoor cafes and a farmer’s market (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only).
Click here for more information.


The Pen Centre is Niagara’s largest shopping destination, featuring 180 stores and services and 1,000,000 square feet of shopping. The Pen Centre is home to the most popular national stores and brands like American Eagle, the Bay H&M, HomeSense, Old Navy, Sport Chek, and Winners. Dine in a full service restaurant or enjoy a movie on one of Landmark Cinemas modern screens with stadium seating.
Click here for the Pen Centre website.
221 Glendale Ave., St. Catharines, Ontario.


Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) was the first capital of Upper Canada and the frontier in the War of 1812. There are hundreds of local stores in this National Historic District. If you would like after shopping, you could take a walk along the Niagara River, the Canada-USA border.
For a list of stores in NOTL, click here.


Niagara Falls is the ‘must visit’ place for anyone who comes to Brock. Besides the falls and casinos, you can also buy some souvenirs which will remind you of your Niagara memories in the future. For more information about stores in downtown Niagara Falls, click here.


This is the place that attracts shopaholics from other cities in Ontario or even from the United States of America. This is the place where you can find good deals on your favourite brands all year round.
To check out the brands in Canada One, click here.


If you cannot find what you need in this region, you can always drive a little further along the QEW. Toronto is only one and a half hours drive from St. Catharines. Due to the great diversity of ethnic groups residing in Toronto and adjacent cities, the Greater Toronto Area is your ultimate shopping destination for everything from jewellery, to fashion apparels to international foods. For the shopping locations, click here.

Brock International Services hosts social activities for VIP/VIS/UM participants each year. You are welcome to join us on trips throughout the Niagara Region or at the We Welcome the World Reception. These are great networking opportunities for International scholars! Weekly emails are sent out with upcoming events. For a full list of events, visit Experience BU for on-campus activities or the St. Catharines Downtown Association for events in the community.

Most schools in Ontario are publicly funded by the province and are divided into Elementary Schools which run from Grades 1 to 8, and Secondary School, from Grades 9 to 12. Full or half-day Kindergarten operated by the English-language public boards is available, while not mandatory, for four and five year old children. In Ontario, Catholic, English or French schools are also available.

In order to register students to a District School Board of Niagara School parents must book an appointment at the Welcome Centre for Newcomer Families.

To book an appointment please call at 905-641-1550 x54152, or email:

Visa/International Students must present:

  • Study permit;
  • Valid passport;
  • Canadian Health Insurance;
  • Immunization records;
  • Tuition fees (if applicable*);
  • Previous school transcripts, if available.

*Students whose parents have a work permit do not have to pay to be enrolled in school.

English as a Second Language (ESL) or French Language Programs are also available from both the Public District and Catholic School Boards. More information can be found here.

For more information, visit: District School Board of Niagara.

In St. Catharines, there are also Private boarding schools. For tuition and enrollment information, click here.

Getting Around

St. Catharines bus schedule

Brock University International Services

For a map of the Niagara Region, click here.

For an interactive map of Brock University, click here.


The St. Catharines Transit Commission (SCT) operates most of their routes through Downtown St. Catharines, with routes meeting at the Downtown Bus Terminal. Additional main transfer points also exit at the Pen Centre, Fairview Mall and Brock University.

The majority of the routes operate weekdays using one numbering scheme while weekday evenings and weekends operate with a separate numbering scheme.

Though it may be confusing at a first glance, most of the routes interconnect, meaning that they continue to other routes once reaching their terminus. This occurs at the bus terminal in Downtown St. Catharines, and at both northern and southern terminals.

For more information, schedules and bus routes, visit


The downtown bus terminal serves outbound bus services to Toronto, Niagara Falls, other cities in the surrounding area, and most other major Canadian cities. The downtown bus terminal supports both Greyhound and Coach Canada, both of which have varying times leaving St. Catharines. It also runs Megabus services, which occasionally run cheap deals out of Niagara Falls and Toronto.


Niagara Regional Transit:
Go Transit:
Coach Canada:

In Canada, you have the option to lease, rent or buy a car. Each of these options requires research and in some cases a lot of effort and money if you wish to drive. Depending on how long you will stay in Canada, be sure that getting a license is your best option.


Leasing a car is an option for many people. It involves paying for the use of the car rather than the car itself. The lease is usually a few years long, meaning that if you need to get out of the lease, you would have to pay a penalty and sometimes what is left on the lease (depends from lease to lease). Also, a lease might have predetermined mileage limits. If you drive more than the set limit, you might have to pay extra charges.


If you are staying in Canada for a short period of time, renting a car for you when you need one might be the best option. You will likely need an International Driver’s License before your departure. There are many car rental businesses you can research, including:

Enterprise, St. Catharines

Discount, St. Catharines

Avis, Niagara Falls

Budget, St. Catharines

Hertz, St. Catharines


When buying a car in Canada you can pay the amount they ask for, or get financing depending on your credit history. You may be eligible for a car loan from a bank, borrowing the amount of money needed to buy the car and paying back to the bank in a predetermined amount of time, with an interest rate.


Ontario requires by law that everyone who wants to drive a car buy minimum car insurance. Fines for people driving without auto-insurance range from $5,000 to $50,000, having the car impounded, and their driver’s license suspended. Insurance quotes vary depending on driving experience, driving record and the make and model of the car being driven. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 per year.


Most foreign driver’s licenses are valid for only 60 days after admission to Canada. If your license is not reciprocal to the Ontario driver’s license, you would have to pass a vision test and take both a written test and a driving test.

Reciprocal exchange between agreements exist between Ontario and other Canadian provinces, Canadian Forces Europe, U.S.A, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Germany, France, Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Australia and Isle of Man. Learn more about Driving in Ontario here.


You do not have to use cash every day for your purchases. Most of the businesses in Canada accept debit cards or credit cards; therefore, opening a bank account in Canada is recommended.

Scotiabank has a branch at Brock and also has ATMs on campus. The other four major banks in Canada are RBC, CIBC, BMO, and TD Canada Trust.

Each bank has different banking options, please visit their websites and chose the accounts which best meet your needs:

In Canada, the federal government, provincial government, and municipal government collect money from individuals living in Canada in order to subsidize roads, schools, and health care among other things.

People that may be considered Canadian residents (this is different from immigration residence) for tax purposes are:

  • Canadian citizens and permanent residents;
  • Refugees (protected persons);
  • People who have received approval in principle from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to stay in Canada;
  • Temporary residents, such as foreign students and foreign workers.

Taxes that are paid in Ontario are Income Tax and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Income Taxes are paid by individuals, who are considered residents for tax purposes.
For more information, click here.

HST is an amount, usually 13 per cent, that is added to the price tag of different products. There are some exemptions on basic food products, child care services, and prescription drugs.
For more information, click here.

Each year you have to file an Income Tax and Benefit Return to tell the government how much money you earned and how much tax you paid. Taxes are usually deducted from your income, or levied when products and services are consumed. Depending on the amount paid, you might be eligible for a refund or you might owe taxes.

In order to file your taxes, you must apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) by going to the Service Canada website and obtaining the necessary forms. A SIN is a nine-digit number that you must have to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits.
For more information, click here.

As a non-resident of Canada, you might be eligible to apply for a Tax Waiver. This is called the Regulation 105 Waiver Application which may permit a reduced amount of tax to be withheld on any income you receive in Canada.
To find out if you are eligible, click here.

To obtain the form, click here.

Health & Nutrition

Two Niagara residents bicycling down the Niagara parkway

Canada’s Health Care System is a publicly funded system that provides Canadians with health care services. These services are provided once the patient shows their Health Card. Each province has its own health system and card.

To be eligible for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) you must be either:

  • a foreign worker who holds a work permit valid for at least six months that allows you to work in Canada, and also have a formal agreement in place to work full-time for an employer situated in Ontario which sets out the employer’s name, your occupation, and states that you will be working for no less than six consecutive months.
  • the spouse, same sex partner, or dependent child (under 22 years old or 22 years and over if dependent due to a mental or physical disability) of an OHIP-eligible foreign worker or an OHIP-eligible foreign clergy member.

For more information on eligibility, click here.

There is a three month waiting period after you have applied for OHIP. During that period, all Visiting Professor, Visiting Scholar and University Mentorship participants must be covered by comprehensive Guard Me health insurance.

For information on Guard Me click here.

NOTE: Prescription Drugs – prescription drugs have limited coverage by Guard Me.


Hospital services in Ontario;
Physicians’ services in Ontario.

Other services may include: diagnostic laboratory and X-ray, psychiatric hospitalization, psychotherapy, eye exams, paramedical services, physiotherapy/speech therapy, private nursing, ambulance, emergency transportation, accidental injury and emergency dental care, prosthetics, accessibility, out of Canada coverage (limited in USA and Home Country), immunization, maternity, family transportation, air evacuation, accidental death, common carrier, trauma counselling, burial in hose country, repatriation of deceased.

*Note: Guard Me does not cover pre-existing conditions or illnesses.

Some restrictions apply; please visit their website for detailed information regarding Guard Me health insurance coverage.

St. Catharines is home to several ethnic grocery stores including:

  • Alnoor
  • Dinh Dinh Asian Foods
  • El Milagro Latin Food
  • Meg Africana
  • Tony’s Fish Market
  • Oriental FoodMart

Other, larger chain grocery stores include Costco, FreshCo, Food Basics, Sobeys, Superstore, Metro, Wal-Mart, and Zehrs. All of them carry a variety of products from around the world and Canada! For a complete list and map, click here.

St. Catharines has many off-campus gyms that you are welcome to join! They include:

  • Fit4Less
  • GoodLife Fitness
  • YMCA
  • And much more!

In addition, St. Catharines has many recreation opportunities, from aquatic activities, to ice activities, to even non-fitness activities like art, life skills, and historical and cultural programs! Check out the ActiveSTC portal for all the current recreation activities in St. Catharines!

Campus Resources

As a VIP/VIS/UM, you have full access to Brock’s library, located in Schmon Tower.

The University Library system comprises the James A. Gibson Library, housed on eight floors on the Schmon Tower, and the Map Library located in Mackenzie Chown C306.

The Library’s collections contain over 1.5 million physical items and a vast variety of digital resources that are available both on and off-campus. These include an extensive number of databases, over 20,000 full text electronic journals, a growing number of e-books, and several image and sound databases. Study spaces, including individual carrels and tables for group work are available for more than 775 users.

Computers are located on all library floors and laptops are available for loan from the Circulation desk. The Library is open for 90 hours each week including evenings and weekends, with extended hours during exam periods. To view library hours, click here.


A new Learning Commons opened in 2008 on the main floor of the Library and provides an array of learning support services. The Matheson Learning Commons features advanced technology, integrated service points, and a variety of study spaces. The Learning Commons is designed to enhance the scholarly, creative, and professional pursuits of the Brock Community. This welcoming environment offers unique opportunities for students to collaborate with their peers, exchange ideas, and find support for their academic activities.


  • Group study rooms that can be reserved for use by student groups and a variety of public study areas.
  • Easy access to services and assistance.
  • Combined circulation/reserves desk – sign out laptops and library materials in one place.
  • Help desk for the library research support.
  • Computer lab and silent study designated times/spaces with public computers (PCs and Macs).
  • Laptops, phone chargers, marker pens, monitors, video cameras, head phones, and other equipment to sign out.

The Department of Recreation Services operates the facilities in the Walker Complex, including three gymnasiums, the recreational 200-metre track, squash courts, the Zone fitness centre, the Eleanor Misener Aquatic Centre (50-metre pool) and the Leo LeBlanc Rowing Centre. Outside are four tennis courts and several playing fields. Recreation Services offers programs in aquatics, intramurals, fitness, dance and much more.

Memberships to the various facilities are available to Brock students, staff, faculty and community members.

Instructional programs offered to Brock students, staff, faculty and the community include aquatics, fitness, dance, coaching, wellness, first aid, Pilates, children’s gym programs and much more.

Intramural sport programs for Brock University students include more than 60 leagues and involve more than 6,100 participants.

For hours and membership information click here.

Brock has several different places to eat located right on campus. However, some of these establishments may not be open at all times. Please check the website for locations and available hours.

Jubilee Court in Autumn

Still have Questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact us at!