Travel and Toronto

Lucy D., Bachelor of Business/Law
University of Toronto, Canada (Semester 2, 2018)

I studied at the University of Toronto in Semester 2, 2018. My 5 months in Canada were unforgettable, and exchange was the absolute best adventure.

Campus Life

The University of Toronto has three campuses. I attended the Mississauga campus, which was about a 45-minute drive from downtown Toronto. I chose to stay on Campus and live in residence, which was a great decision. My residence was called Leacock Lane and I stayed in a townhouse with three other girls. Two of them were Canadian, and the other was an international student, like myself. Campus life was great; there were always lots of activities going on, and plenty of things to do. The university itself had great facilities; including a free gym, bike hire, and a nature trail walk (with great deer sightings).

In terms of study, I found the work load extremely easy compared to QUT. I found classes extremely manageable, and I was able to explore and travel in the meantime!

Travel and Toronto

Toronto is huge multicultural city with so much to offer. I made the most of being close to downtown, and tried to do something new every week. I visited Toronto Island, the Toronto Film Festival, Nuit Blanche (a midnight citywide arts festival), a baseball game, hockey games, and Christmas markets. I also went further afield to explore Niagara Falls, Montreal, and Ottawa.

If you’re going on exchange to Canada, you can’t miss out on seeing the Canadian Rockies. I did a 2-week Topdeck before exchange and got to explore Banff, Whistler, Jasper and Vancouver. I would definitely recommend planning some travel before or after your exchange.

Canadian Life

Everyone always says that Canadians are the nicest people…this is definitely true! If you need help, or you are lost, people are more than happy to help you out. Unfortunately, Canadian coffee is nothing like Australian coffee, so expect to drink a lot of bad coffee. On the plus side, Tim Hortons will become a staple in your diet.

My Top Tips

  • Take every opportunity to explore the country in which you study – last minute trips will become some of your best memories.
  • Be sure to try a beaver tail and poutine.
  • Stay in residence if you can. It’s such a great experience that I couldn’t recommend more.
  • If you have electives use them to take a subject that you would never normally do as part of your degree…I took an Italian Food and Culture subject and loved it. (Part of the course was to do a walking pizza tour of Toronto..).
  • Remember that prices do not include tax and you have to tip. It’s an adjustment at first but after a while you will get used to it.
  • Wait and buy winter jackets and boots in Canada, they are inexpensive and often better quality than those in Australia.
  • Above all, make the most of your time overseas and have fun. Before you know it, you will be back home and missing it like crazy!

Oh Candaaaa!

Rosanna, E. Bachelor of Business and Creative Industries

Ryerson University (Semester 1, 2017)

I experienced my exchange in Toronto, Canada and endured the frigid winter that it put on display. This was the first challenge I faced; the lead up to my exchange was so swift and overwhelmingly busy at times, that I had forgotten to prepare myself for -20 degree days, not including wind chill. I quickly discovered that I am a Queenslander at heart, I became a sun-worshiper and tested my room-mate’s patience with me as I constantly pointed out how cold it was and refused to go outside if it wasn’t a necessity.

Me playing in snow for the first time

I resided in a co-op building which was recommended to all the exchange students who were attending Ryerson University. This was great as it meant practically everyone who was involved in the program also lived, ate and drank together daily. My room-mates quickly became my closest friends which I cherished when battling my homesickness. This was another thing that shocked me and something I really didn’t think I would experience! I hopelessly missed the clear blue skies of Brisbane and the constant stream of vitamin D from the sun; it’s safe to say that I truly experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)! EVERYTHING changed for me though on my mid-semester break, where my French room-mate and I took a spontaneous trip to Mexico. The trip healed my longing for sun while simultaneously changing my perspective on my not-yet enjoyed experience. People who go on exchange do-so for a reason; whether that may be to experience new things, for personal growth, to travel while studying or to drink your way through classes and scrape by with a satisfactory grade. For me, acknowledging that I was homesick and deciding to accept that and embrace the opportunity that I had worked so hard to give myself was the best decision I made.

The Toronto sky line from Toronto Island

I began to embrace the snow and the ice glazed streets and the fact that I could never feel my hands or feet. More importantly though, I embraced the people I was meeting and opened to the idea that my friends back home didn’t have to be my only friends. My greatest joy that the exchange program brought me were the friendships I found. People on exchange generally have this mentality and openness to life that I loved. Everyone is there with the assumption socialising is a priority, thus people had a zest for life and new experiences. It was refreshing and an opportunity to break away from the predispositions I felt held me back in Brisbane and an opportunity for me to become more confident in myself. Exchange gave me the time away from home that gave me the opportunity to be truly isolated from the friends and family that have surrounded me my whole life. I could experience who I was and what I wanted without those external influences and it felt quite liberating!

The Washington sister Women’s March in Toronto

I now have a new fondness and appreciation for home and the people there while also having a lust and excitement for travelling to unfamiliar places. The exchange program created a catalyst for me to be confident in myself and my passions and has enabled me to have a zestiness for life to carry out and achieve big blinding goals that I would never have thought I could achieve before leaving home! I’m very grateful that I took advantage of the opportunity and have signed up for a study tour in Peru at the end of this year to further my personal growth!