Indy in Toronto

Field of study in Wageningen: International Development Studies (BIN)
Study period exchange: 01/09/2023 – 18/12/2023
Country (exchange): Canada
City (exchange): Toronto
University (exchange): Toronto Metropolitan University
Faculty (exchange): Politics and Governance

2. Motivation for exchange

Why did you choose to go on study exchange?

I always knew I wanted to go on an exchange during my bachelor. First reason being is that I think it is good to expand yourself beyond the WUR, or any other Dutch university. A different university can teach you different views and ways of learning. Besides that, it also looks good when you can say you studied at a different university outside of the Netherlands. Secondly, I considered it to be valuable for my personal growth. Going to a different country, speaking a different language, a new school, a new country and making new friends is all very scary but also very useful for different aspects of your future. However, my main reason was for the memories. How amazing is it to make new friends and new memories in a different country? You get to travel, meet new people, discover new things, and make endless new memories.

What is the reason you chose for this country/university?

I knew I wanted to study out of the EU. Canada was a country I had always wanted to go. Besides that, I liked the idea of studying in an English-speaking country, because it made it look a little less scary. The universities in Canada also had a reputation for good education, which I also found important. In Canada there were multiple options, but I ended up choosing Toronto because I assumed there would be the most to do as it is the biggest city in Canada. I also assumed there would be many other exchange students with whom I would have been able to socialize.

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

I took a direct KLM flight towards Pearson airport in Toronto. Pearson airport is a bit out of town, there are multiple options to get into town. I ordered an uber at the airport, which was around $40. You can also get a taxi. The taxi’s work in zones, so the price is decided before the ride. There is also a train called the Pearson Express that takes you to Union Station, which is the central station of Toronto.

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?

What is it like to study there?

I would say the workload at TMU is a bit higher, but the level of difficulty is lower. The system at TMU is that you already need to have more than 50% of your grade before you make your final. Result of this is that you have many more deadlines that are only a small part of your final grade. I had many littles quizzes, but most of them were open book and we made them online on Brightspace. The quizzes were not hard. I also had to make multiple papers and assignments, more than I was used to. Participation is also very important to at TMU. In most of my classes, participation was around 5% of my grade. Attendance would be noted down at the lectures and tutorials. The class hours are lower at TMU. I had max of 3 hours per day, with one day free every week.

What is the culture of the university?

The professors are in my opinion more approachable then at the WUR. The classes at TMU are smaller, so the professors know the students better. I compared it to Dutch high school teachers. I did not have a lot of contact with local students. According to one of my professors, this is because most of the students live outside of Toronto and have to commute. These students don’t really interact with other students because they leave directly after class. This was also one of my biggest culture shocks, when I would come into a classroom nobody would be talking to each other.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

Every student has access to the RAC and MAC, which are the gyms of the university. They are quite big but also very busy most of the time. They also offer different classes like pilates or spinning. You can also always watch sportgames. The TMU Bold hockeyteam is always fun to watch. The university also organizes many activities throughout the year that you can attend.

5. Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing?

If you go to TMU for one semester, there are no university housing options available. I got my housing via long term Airbnb, with a friend of mine from home. We lived 20 minutes outside of downtown, which was nice. I heard multiple people found their housing via Airbnb; however, the price of the Airbnb’s is high. Another option which is closer to campus is Neil Wycick. It is a housing option where a lot of international students go to. It looks a bit like the Wageningen Student Flats. There are also multiple Facebook groups that post advertisements. I would really advice to start searching in time, because living spaces are scarce.

What is the culture of the country like?

I don’t think there are many differences between Canadians and Dutch people. Canadians are really kind, but they do tend to stay to themselves. Nobody really notices you, but this might just be a big city thing. I did not meet many locals, as they often lived outside of Toronto. I did notice that Canadians love brunch and getting coffee (Tim Hortons is a national treasure!).

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?

Toronto does have a extensive public transport system: the TTC. It is not the best system, but it works fine. You have metro lines, streetcars, and busses. I mostly used the streetcars, which are basically trams. They run over the main streets of Toronto; therefore, you can get pretty much everywhere with them. They are not always on time, but I did not have many issues with them. There are a few metro lines. I did not use the metro often, but the times I did it was fine. The busses were my least favourite mode of transport, as they were often late or did not show up. You can get a Presto card with a student fare. With this card you can use the entire TTC system. TMU is located downtown and is easily reachable with the streetcars or metro’s.

6. Expenses

Can you give an indication of your expenses for/during your exchange?

Toronto is an expensive city to live in. Some things are way more expensive then back home, but other things are cheaper. Groceries are pretty expensive, even the more basic things. Going out to eat is not as expensive, but alcohol is insanely pricey. You should really prepare yourself that you’re going to spend a lot of money here for basic living. But for me it was all worth it!

7. Free time

What are must-sees in the area? 

There are the obvious tourist things that are fun to visit: the CN Tower, the Niagara Falls, St Lawrence Market, Kensington Market, High Park, Dundas Square and the Toronto Islands. All these things are worth a visit. I would recommend visiting the Toronto Islands and the Niagara Falls in the summer or spring, because it can get very cold. I would also really recommend visiting sports games. Baseball is in season in spring and summer. The baseball team are the Blue Jays. The basketball season is during the winter, the Toronto Raptors. There are also a few streets that are a lot of fun to walk around. Ossington Avenue has a lot of fun bars and little restaurants, and King and Queen Street are fun for shopping and going out.

What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?

Ossington Avenue is very fun! It has a lot of fun shops, cafés and restaurants. August 8 on Spadina Avenue is a good place for unlimited sushi. On Tuesdays, you should visit Jules Bistro. Their Cote de Boeuf is amazing and half the price on Tuesdays! On Dundas Square there is a pub called the Imperial. It looks a little sketchy from the outside, but it is a really cozy and fun pub where you can get some drinks. For going out I would recommend the Madison Avenue Pub. It is a pub where a lot of (international) students come. It is not crazy expensive, and it has a lot of rooms with different types of music. If you want some good pizza, go to Badialli’s! On the weekends it can get really busy, but if you go during the week the waiting time is not so long, and the pizza is amazing.

Do you have general tips and tricks about leisure time?

Going out is expensive here, so I would recommend drinking most of your drinks beforehand. For the real clubs you often must pay to get in, so we mostly avoided these. A lot of restaurants and bars have happy hours. We got a lot of our tips for restaurants and bars through social media. There are a few really nice Instagram pages that post about good places in Toronto. For parties we looked at Eventim. We found some really fun parties through them.

7. Challenges & best moment abroad

What was a challenge you have experienced?

Leaving home was difficult. It was the first time I had left my family for such a long time, and I did not know what to expect. But before I knew it I was having the time of my life with the most amazing people. You really need to remember that you only have a limited time, and you need to enjoy every second of your exchange. Eventually, leaving Toronto was harder than leaving The Netherlands. At fist,I was nervous about making friends and meeting people. If you have the option, go to the TMU introduction week! This is where I met all my friends. I did not get home sick a lot, but when I did, I would plan days with my friends and I would forget about it.

What was your best memory abroad?

My best memory is the people I met. In such a short time these people became my family. The friendships that you get with your exchange friends are very special, as they are the only ones with whom you share this experience.

8. Contact Details

Would you like to ask Indy more questions about her exchange?
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