Issy – Toronto Metropolitan University – Canada
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Fine Arts
Hello! My name’s Issy and for semester 2 of my third year studying Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Fine Art (film), I was lucky enough to study in Canada at TMU. Being in a double degree, I only completed film units while on exchange as with this university I could not do both. I applied in the last few days of applications just as a “what if” and now after spending 5 months in Canada I can say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Before I left, the thought of committing to my first solo travel for what I thought was such a long period time, turned out to not be long enough and I pushed my flight another month…here’s why!
My first day in Toronto was in the middle of orientation week. The uni had a heap of different events on and specifically organized talks and gatherings for the international students. This led me to meet friends who soon became such a big part of my life, I am even planning to do a bunch of Europe travelling with people I met at these, going to their home countries! It can be scary at first but best thing to do is go to these events and you’ll meet so many people that will help you along the way.
The uni is located in the middle of the city and is very different to what I’ve experienced at QUT. It can be quite overwhelming with the amount of people, and the things you see, but it’s also exciting exploring a huge new city. Surprisingly, Australians aren’t common in Toronto, and Canadian students found it pretty crazy as most international students are from Europe/UK. I was always getting looks and comments for my “accent” which has never been pointed out before in my travels, so that was a funny shock! Most people were super helpful with helping me find classrooms and just tips on general living in Toronto.
Originally, I thought I’d be staying in a campus dorm; however, they changed it so they were only offering this to international students studying there for a year. In the end I ended up living in two different Airbnb’s and made the right choice. There is private student housing near the uni, however you are very restricted with what you can do. The pricing of these places would have ended up being more expensive than having my own apartment through Airbnb so I valued the independence of it! Don’t get me wrong, I am a big people person so the decision was tough but when I was there, I would have friends over all the time and big group dinners with my exchange group.
My friends lived right near the university but we found it to actually be more dangerous as it was the heart of the city. I lived in two different suburbs that were really cute with lots of cafes/parks and it only took about 30mins to get back to the chaos. Having somewhere safer and quiet was nice to come home to!
If you are going all the way to Canada, you can’t just see Toronto. We got a week off in October and me and my group of friends went on a trip to Montreal and Mont Tremblant which was one of the highlights. It takes 5 hours on a train and is so worth exploring, the city is quite different to Toronto as you enter French Canada. People didn’t love that we couldn’t speak French but it’s not hard to navigate around. Mont Tremblant is a ski village but in fall season it was absolutely beautiful. We had this amazing Airbnb house on the water, which split between us was cheaper than my rent for the week in Toronto as it was off season.
At the end of semester, me and the same group went on a ski trip to Blue Mountains which is a few hours away. It was super fun and my first time seeing snow! After this I travelled for a month and a half through the rockies (Alberta) and that was a whole other experience of its own. I would have stayed longer If I could afford it, snowboarding is expensive and living in a hostel dorm still cost upwards of $300 a week. But I’d spend it any day for the experiences you get there.
Tips for Toronto
- Get a ferry pass and go over to the islands (I went a bunch of times, its about $7 each time or you can get a monthly pass)
- Don’t miss TIFF! Toronto International Film Festival was so fun, it runs for the week and you can get an under 25 (years old) pass which you buy once and you line up in the rush line to get left over seats. It goes for a week and we went to heaps of different screenings, the atmosphere in the street is unmatchable and the old theatres are so cool
- Everything is really expensive, so learn how to cook cheap and do big meals instead of eating out regularly, you’ll save money for experiences
- Do up a budget
- Be aware in the city and on public transport. Try not to catch subways/street cars (they are the same as trams) alone late at night and get an Uber instead
- Most of the parks in the city around the uni are for the homeless, and unfortunately they are dangerous to walk around. The parks in the suburbs and on the islands are really nice, plus there’s a little one surrounded by classrooms at uni.
I actually organised myself a job as well in my first week in Toronto. I worked in a big film lab and met so many lifelong friends/contacts from doing that. The student working visa is annoying to get but allows you to work 25hrs during studying and is something to look into, even just volunteering at relative places to your degree is super useful to meet people and get really good experience.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.