There are over 100 pubic school districts with international student programs in Canada. They have many things in common, most notably the placement of students in Canada’s world-leading classrooms. They differ greatly, however, in the support and programming they offer to students outside of school.

Purcell International Education (PIE) Ltd. created Study Abroad+ to make up for these differences. Working with GuangDong AQG Education Science & Technology Consulting Co., Ltd. (AQG), PIE is piloting this new program with Chinese students in the Metro Vancouver area of British Columbia to provide them with access to the following:

  • a pre-departure orientation presented in English and Chinese
  • weekly monitoring via telephone, video chat, or in-person conferences
  • monthly activities, events, and trips
  • college-admission guidance and support
  • access to special products and services

PIE’s goal with Study Abroad+ is twofold: 1) to ensure subscribing students are able to maximize their study abroad experience in pursuit of their personal goals; and 2) to give parents access to an added layer of service and care for their children.


Ready, set, go! PIE and AQG are pleased to provide Study Abroad+ students with a comprehensive one-day orientation in Guangzhou, China in late August. Key topics to be introduced and reviewed include:

  • BC’s healthcare system
  • mental and physical health for international students
  • dating and relationships
  • social media and cyberbullying
  • online safety
  • homestay DOs and DON’Ts
  • high-risk activities
  • ski and snowboard safety
  • illegal drugs, marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, and e-cigarettes
  • transportation safety (cars, buses, trains, hitchhiking)
  • the BC curriculum: a new approach to learning
  • preparing for post-secondary
  • academic integrity, plagiarism, and cheating 
  • the PIE points program
  • Study Abroad+ (how it works, what it provides)

The goal of this orientation is to ensure students and their natural parents receive information in English and Chinese prior to departure, so that expectations and understandings are consistent and engagement of the material is more natural and likely to stick. Most school districts do a great job with their own orientations but, because they are generally English-only and because the students are newly-arrived and often jet-lagged and/or cultured-shocked as a result, they aren’t as effective as an orientation delivered in the student’s home country prior to departure.


“Hi, it’s Tom calling from PIE. How’s everything going?” That’s what Study Abroad+ students will hear once a week for their entire stay, either on the phone, via video chat, or in person. Dr. Tom Ristimaki, PIE’s Director of Student Services, is based in Vancouver and available to support students if/when their host school district cannot. Tom also coordinates and leads PIE’s schedule of activities, events, and trips (see below) and provide college admission guidance and support.  
Tom Ristimaki


Maximize your study-abroad experience in Canada! Get access to the support and experience you need to make the most of your stay and do everything you can to set yourself up for success as you apply for admission to your preferred post-secondary institutions.  The schedule that follows is tentative and subject to change.  The final schedule will be confirmed on or before July 31 each year with all activities, events, and/trips subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.  

Date Location Activity Description
August Guangzhou Pre-departure orientation Presentations on and activities for key topics relating to studying abroad in BC (see above)
September Vancouver PIE welcome event Welcome workshop (review of timetables, survey introduction, etc.) plus Stanley Park, FlyOver Canada, and group dinner in Gastown
October Vancouver Halloween Monthly in-person student meetings with Dr. Ristimaki plus Fright Night at PNE in Vancouver
November Vancouver College prep conference Monthly in-person student meetings with Dr. Ristimaki plus special guest speakers and presentations on key topics relating to application process for colleges/universities in North America
December San Francisco California trip Five-day Xmas break trip: fly to San Francisco, visit UC Berkley, Stanford, Silicon Valley tour, Alcratraz, sightseeing
January Vancouver PIE mid-year event Monthly in-person student meetings with Dr. Ristimaki plus study session and exam prep for mid-term exams/projects
February Whistler Winter fun day Monthly in-person student meetings with Dr. Ristimaki plus skiing and/or dog-sledding with sightseeing
March BC/Alberta Rocky Mountain road trip Seven-day Spring Break trip: bus to Banff, Calgary, Edmonton, Jasper; incl. UBCO, U of C, U of A, sightseeing
April Squamish Sea kayak experience Monthly in-person student meetings with Dr. Ristimaki plus kayaking
May Vancouver Island Tofino Retreat Mindfulness and relaxation; yoga and other methods of self-regulation in preparation for final exams/projects
June Vancouver PIE farewell event Monthly in-person student meetings with Dr. Ristimaki plus end of June celebration at Grouse Mountain
July Guangzhou Year-end conference Strategic planning session with students and parents after report cards are issued; group seminar plus individualized counselling


Reach your full potential and achieve your goals. Study Abroad+ is there to help you do both! Your chances of gaining admission to your dream college or university are linked to your level of engagement in your high school study abroad experience and supported by expert mentoring, guidance, and support.  Tom and the AQG team in China provide these services to subscribing students and their parents to ensure the best-possible result from their high school study-abroad experience.  


PIE points, Plus, Vital English pre-arrival learning, Academic Skills for College online course and more!