Arrival and Orientation

Image of students dancing at orientationInternational Orientation

*Note: W22 START International will be held virtually. A link will be shared with incoming exchange students closer to the date.

START International, the orientation program for new international and exchange students, is held in late August (the week before classes begin) for the Fall semester, and on the day before classes begin in January for the Winter semester.  (You will be informed of the exact dates in your acceptance e-mail.)  We highly recommend that you attend the orientation as the sessions will cover useful topics such as cultural adjustment, the Canadian university academic system, dressing for the cold weather, health insurance and the various support services that are available to help students make a successful transition. It is also a good opportunity to meet the other exchange and international students through some fun social activities we have organized.  

When Should I Arrive?

If you will be participating in START International Orientation, we recommend that you arrive one or two days before the orientation begins.  If you are planning to look for off-campus housing, we recommend that you arrive at least 3-4 days before START International so that you have time to find a place to live.  If you won’t be attending START International Orientation, it’s best to arrive at least a few days before the first day of classes in order to have time to get settled.  More detailed information about the exact dates for moving into residence, START International and the first day of classes will be given in the acceptance e-mail you will receive.

How do I Get From the Airport to Guelph?

The closest major airport to Guelph is Pearson International Airport in Toronto, and most exchange students fly to this airport.

Please note:  Here we have listed the two easiest and most common ways of getting from the Toronto Pearson International Airport to Guelph. It is usually more difficult to take a bus or train from the airport to Guelph, as there are only 2 – 3 direct Greyhound buses from the airport to Guelph every day, and you may find it difficult to take public transportation to downtown Toronto and then another bus to Guelph when you are tired and have luggage. However, you can see information about all modes of transportation on the Student Life website.

Pick-Up Service

The Office of Intercultural Affairs offers a bus service from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Guelph on the day before START International begins in late August for a low fee.  The exact bus times will be determined according to registered students' arrival times and will be announced prior to your arrival.  You will receive more information about the bus service in your acceptance e-mail.  (A bus service is not offered for exchange students coming for the Winter semester, however, you can use the Red Car Service - see below).

Red Car Service

Red Car is a private company that provides a direct shuttle service from Pearson International Airport (Toronto) to Guelph. Depending on traffic, the trip takes about one hour and fifteen minutes.  You can find out the fees and book the Red Car shuttle service on-line at  You can get a discount if you book Red Car for both your arrival and departure (at the end of your exchange) or if you book the service for more than one person (if you know of other exchange students who are arriving at the same time as you.)  

Where Can I Stay When I Arrive?

For students living in residence:

If you are registered for START International, the first day when you can move into your residence room with no extra charge will be the day before START International Orientation begins in the Fall semester, and on the Saturday before classes start in the Winter semester.  If you need to move into your residence room before those dates, you will be required to submit and application form in advance and will be charged an extra fee of $28 per night for the extra days which will be charged to your University of Guelph account.  More information about move-in dates and early move-in will be provided in your acceptance e-mail. 

For students planning to live off-campus:

If you wish to live off-campus, you will need to make arrangements for a place to stay until you have found permanent housing. It is not possible to stay in the University residences while you are looking for a place to live. The least expensive temporary accommodations are usually ‘Bed and Breakfast’ hotels - these are rooms in a private home and range in price from $60-$100 /student per night (and include breakfast). For a list of temporary accommodations in Guelph, please e-mail your Education Abroad Advisor (email address).