ISO Fall 2019

International Students Orientation

Welcome to Vancouver Island University!

Smooth sailing VIU orientation logo

Each semester the Department of International Education provides a specialized International Student Orientation (ISO), known as Smooth Sailing.  Also, we offer workshops, activities and day trips to help our arriving students in undergraduate & graduate programs get connected with peers, feel at home on campus and settled in the community.

All incoming international students in undergraduate and graduate programs at VIU are invited and expected to attend Smooth Sailing: International Student Orientation.  This includes students transitioning from English language studies in Canada, as well as exchange and study abroad students. 

Smooth Sailing: International Student Orientation Spring 2023

Intended for new international academic students attending VIU in Spring semester.

This is your opportunity to connect with other international students from around the world and learn about VIU Services, academic and immigration information, health and safety and upcoming orientation programming with events. It is a great way to start your first semester off in the right direction.

Date:  Wednesday, January 4, 2023 

Time:  9 am 

Location:  Malaspina Theatre, Building 310, Nanaimo Campus

A series of webinars hosted by the academic advisors and other staff on campus to provide you important information on course registration, housing, travelling, and other topics prior to your arrival. Pre-registration is required.

Pre-Arrival Webinar for International Students Starting January 2023

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 at 9 am.  Registration is required.

This is your pre-departure preparation session. We will cover everything from what documents to prepare for travel, housing search dos and don’ts, VIU documentation and registration. We will also take your questions about anything you want to know for the upcoming semester.

Fall 2022 Pre-Arrival Webinar:  Ready!

Watch Playback:  VIUTube or FB Live

This is your first pre-departure preparation session.  We will cover everything from what documents to prepare for travel, housing search do's and don’ts, VIU documentation, registration and self-isolation. We will also take your questions about anything you want to know for the upcoming semester.  Pre-registration is required.  

Fall 2022 Pre-Arrival Webinar:  Set!

Watch Playback:  VIUTube or FB Live

In this second edition we will focus on housing, travel and arrival information. We will provide off-campus housing tips, reminders from VIU Residence, and Canadian regulations. We will also take your questions about anything you want to know for the upcoming semester.

Fall 2022 Pre-Arrival Webinar:  Go!

Watch Playback:  VIUTube or FB Live

The third and final installment of our pre-arrival webinar series. We take a sneak peek at orientation events and life on campus. Representatives from across campus provide tips for how to get connected and have fun.

Fall 2022 Pre-Arrival Webinar:  Special Topic - Housing!

Watch Playback:  VIUTube or FB Live

Answers to Questions that Came up in the Webinar:

  1. Are university rooms (Residence) full?  Yes, and there is currently a long waiting list. For September, you should look off-campus. 
  2. I am booked into VIU Residence. How will I get to know about my roommate? / Is residence available to receive students 24 hours? My flight is most likely to arrive at midnight.  You should email specific email inquiries to
  3. How do I find off-campus accommodation in Nanaimo?  Start with our resource page - there are lots of links to listing sites. Places4Students is the most trustworthy!
  4. Are student homes covered by the RTA?  Those operated by the university are not. Otherwise, nearly all privately-rented accommodation will be. You should always get a formal contract but even if you don’t have one, your tenancy is likely covered by the RTA. Have a look at the government resources and ask at if you’re unsure.
  5. What are the documents we should carry when we are meeting the landlord?  Email when applying and take to a viewing copies of your ID, references, budget, cover letter and VIU letter of enrollment. A Renting it Right certificate and a needs and preferences worksheet would be great, too. If you are happy with the property, you may decide to sign the agreement at the viewing; be prepared to carry out a condition inspection report with the landlord. For more, check out the videos at
  6. On FB groups, one post for rental I saw said that insurance has to be taken out by the tenants. Is that normal?  They are likely referring to Renters’ or Tenants’ Insurance. It’s not mandatory by law but landlords can ask for it. It’s very affordable and actually recommended as it will help protect your belongings and some of your liability for accidental property damage, for example. TRAC has more information.
  7. Regarding rental insurance, is it possible to continue with a policy if our tenancy ends and we find a new place for rent?  Always check with your insurance provider for the terms of your cover.
  8. Are landlords required to provide receipts for the rent paid?  You should always ask for hard-copy receipts for rent paid, damage deposit etc.
  9. Most of the landlords are asking for a one year lease, so shall I go for that or focus on a month-to-month lease?  Landlords also require security so they are unlikely to offer month-to-month leases from the outset. Fixed term leases are common and give you security as well, of course, and shorter fixed-term agreements may convert to a month-to-month arrangement on expiry - please check with the landlord. If you need to unexpectedly leave before your lease ends, check TRAC’s information and ask at
  10. I am an international student and I am going to attend the EFL course from September to December. I am finding it very difficult to rent for this shorter period. What would you recommend?  It’s always more difficult but try to get together with roommates and apply together, The landlord will have a ready-made group to start with. Tell them you will help find tenants from VIU after you leave and be prepared to post on e.g. the VIUSU app a month or more before you leave. This may help convince them!
  11. My visa is still being processed and my intake is September. If I find a place for rent, should I sign the contract?  Landlords will probably ask for the security deposit and a month’s rent to secure the property and most students are willing to send this ahead if they are happy the agreement is genuine. If you then are unable to come, you may lose some or all of this. This must be your decision but you can read up on the regulations so you are at least well-informed.
  12. Please can I get linked with someone in need of a roommate?  There are links to roommate-finding resources at:
  13. Is it possible for VIU to make small groups and get people settled with renting as soon as possible?  Unfortunately, VIU does not match roommates or landlords. We try to help in all other respects!
  14. Is there any Church accommodation available in Nanaimo?  We are contacting lots of community groups to ask about housing our students and the OCH webpage will be updated if we receive any offers.
  15. Can you recommend places to find cheap or free used furniture?  Facebook Marketplace, of course, but you'll probably need transport. Nanaimo Restore use profits to build low-income housing. Second-hand stores are very popular here in general so you'll find a few options in town. There's also an on-campus Student Free Store, September 8th and 9th at the Nanaimo campus next to the Welcome Centre in Building 300.
  16. Is the airport in Nanaimo well connected to public transit 24 hours or should we make sure to arrive in the daytime? Can the college arrange for free pickup service from the Airport?  VIU does not offer a pick-up service but transport options to Nanaimo from the mainland and from the airport are available on the COVID-19 information page.
  17. Please can you advise about bus passes in Nanaimo?  Have a look at the VIU general transport advice - including links to bus pass info.
  18. Are homes as far away as 5 to 7 km from University well connected via public transport?  Check out the local bus information … and Google your address!
  19. Can the university help with quarantining and self-isolation if we get selected for random testing at the airport and get a positive Covid result?  You can check with Residence ( through the summer but there will almost certainly be no spaces towards the start of semester. Quarantining (and testing) regulations are viewable through links on the COVID-19 International Students page.

RockVIU: Welcome to Campus is Vancouver Island University's annual new student orientation hosted by the Office of Co-Curricular Engagement & Learning. RockVIU presents an opportunity for new students to explore the campuses, meet their faculty, and form new connections with their peers. 

Co-Curricular Involvement App will have both the Smooth Sailing: International Student Orientation and the RockVIU schedules.  The Co-Curricular Involvement App is created for students to utilize and transform their university experience. Students can use the different features to get involved on campus, find helpful VIU resources, and communicate with their peers.

You can download the Co-Curricular Involvement App or log on to the desktop version of the application.

Upcoming Activities + Day Trips

Orientation Information

Smooth Sailing

The term smooth sailing refers to navigating through a task with ease, like a boat travelling on calm waters.  As a campus situated on the West Coast of Canada, our proximity to the ocean inspires us as we support students who are transitioning to this new environment, culture and academic landscape for the first time.  Our goal is that this day of welcome for international students will provide the tools to have a successful first year at Vancouver Island University (VIU) and beyond.