The First Week

Photo of students at the beachFirst Week Checklist

Just arrived? Welcome to Guelph! For information about things you may need to do during your first week at University of Guelph, such as getting your bus pass & health insurance cards, opening a bank account, changing your course registration and buying textbooks, please see the appropriate First Week Checklist and Places to Shop attachments at the bottom of this page.

Where is Everyone?

While graduate students are often here for most of the year, most undergraduate students don’t take classes on campus during the summer. The START International Orientation takes place just before the regular orientation week for all new students (Canadian and international). Therefore, if you attend the START International Orientation, you may find that campus is fairly quiet for the first few days. The new Canadian students and returning UofGuelph students arrive immediately after START International, at which point the campus becomes a busy and exciting community of over 23,000 students.

Though there are fewer students on campus during the summer, all University of Guelph offices and services are open throughout the year. Most offices at the university are open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday through Friday, except for holidays. Therefore, if you arrive slightly before START International Orientation begins, there will be staff available to welcome and help you.

Where Should I Go and Who Should I See?

If you are living in residence, you can go directly to the main desk of your residence to pick up your keys and move into your room when you arrive on campus.  If you will be arriving very late at night, you will have to contact the residence desk in advance to find out if it will be possible for you to move in at that time.  

Be sure to meet your Education Abroad Advisor within the first day or two after your arrival.  If you arrive just before the START International program, you will meet your Advisor at the orientation.  If you arrive several days before or after the orientation, you can meet your Advisor at the Centre for International Programs – they will give you a welcome package with maps and lots of other information about the University and the city and answer any initial questions you may have.

Where to Eat

Many of the cafeterias on campus do not open until the first day of classes. However, the ‘food court’ cafeteria in the University Centre is always open from Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (except on holidays).  Restaurants and grocery stores may be your best options if you arrive before the campus cafeterias are open. Guelph has many restaurants appealing to different tastes and there are many located within walking distance of the University.


Wireless Internet is available throughout the University of Guelph campus, including in the residences.  You will be asked to log-in to the secure network with your U of Guelph username and password.

Cell Phones

There are many cell phone companies and cell phone plans to choose from in Canada.  Most of the major cell phone companies have stores in the Stone Road Mall.  There are also stores which deal with all the major cell phone companies in one store (T-booth and Best Buy are examples) which sometimes makes it easier to compare plans. Many cell phone plans require that you sign a contract – since you will only be studying in Canada for one or two semesters, it is usually best to not sign a contract. Some of the cell phone companies have ‘pay as you go’ cell phone plans which enable you to buy a certain number of cell phone minutes in advance and then purchase additional minutes when needed.  There are also a growing number of cell phone companies that do not require that you sign a contract if you buy your cell phone from them. Some of the major cell phone companies in Ontario are Rogers, Bell, Telus, Koodo, Fido, and Wind.

Where to Buy Things

If you need to buy things for your residence room or apartment, clothing, school supplies, electronics, etc., the Stone Road Mall is within walking distance or a short bus ride from the University Centre and has many different stores. There are many used goods (also called ‘second-hand’ or ‘thrift’) stores in Guelph where students can buy used clothing, furniture, and household supplies (dishes, pots & pans, etc.)  For a list of the most popular places to shop in Guelph, please see the Places to Shop attachment at the bottom of this page.

Help in Residence

If you are living in the residence, there are a number of people there to assist you including the Residence Desk, Residence Manager, and Residence Assistants.  Residence Assistants are student staff hired by Student Housing Services to help promote student interaction and community building. They are responsible for helping residents establish and maintain community standards. They help create a positive living environment through social and educational activities, and by providing support to students with personal and academic concerns. Make use of this important resource. If your R.A. can’t help, he or she will likely know who can.

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