Bachelor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Bachelor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

I was fortunate enough to go on exchange to the University of Toronto during the Semester 2 of 2013. At the time I was in my third year of a Bachelor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and chose the university based on its excellent academic reputation, ranking highest out of the Canadian institutions. Prior to going on exchange I had also never been to the eastern side of Canada and this presented an excellent chance to live on the Great Lakes.

With friends

The academic experience at the University of Toronto (U of T) has slight variations from UQ, with 5 subjects considered to be the full-time loading. The most significant difference would be the smaller class sizes particularly in the 3rd and 4th year level courses. For instance, my fluid mechanics class had 9 students, which made lectures, tutorials and practicals a one-on-one experience. This is definitely a huge advantage when it comes to seeking advice or assistance from professors or asking questions in class. Despite doing 5 upper-level engineering courses at U of T, I found the workload to be only slightly higher than UQ. An interesting aspect I found academically was that U of T’s Engineering program has very unique strengths in the Mechanical and Aerospace faculties that differ from UQ’s own work in hypersonics, composites, NDT and manufacturing. The University of Toronto’s own research strengths lie in microfluidics, robotics, biomedical, space systems and aircraft flight. The expertise professors have in these fields trickles into the course work and as a result I managed to learn a lot about these fields, which I would not have been able to do at UQ.

With bike next to the sea

Toronto as a city is an absolutely fantastic place to live. Prior to going on exchange I considered studying at a university town, but having chosen a metropolitan city I do not regret the choice at all. The large population means that there is a huge amount of events going on every day and every night. In the arts, the Toronto International Film Festival occurs right after you arrive with numerous blockbusters being premiered across downtown. Nuit Blanche (a contemporary arts festival) occurs all through the night soon after. Additional great institutions I managed to see include the AGO, ROM, TSO and also a very well executed production of Les Miserables by Mirvish at one of the 18 or so downtown theatres. In terms of sports, again the large population means that all the top teams come through from the major leagues and some of the teams I saw included the Blue Jays vs. Yankees (MLB), Miami Heat (NBA) and Toronto’s own Leafs (NHL) twice. Fall is definitely the best time to go to Toronto, since the winter months can get extremely cold and you would not want to miss the natural beauty of the changing seasons.

With huskies in the snow

If you’re thinking of travelling around the north-east, especially the Great Lakes region, tours to Niagara Falls were extremely cheap to come by. In addition, the great cities of Quebec including QC and Montreal are easily reached by bus for minimal expense (around 10 hours). Other nearby cities readily reached include Chicago, New York, Boston and Ottawa. I would definitely save many of these for post-university travel, as there is so much to do in Toronto already. For accommodation I was living off-campus near the downtown City Hall in the university-run Chestnut Residence. This is pretty much the heart of Toronto and there is a convenient free ice skating rink downstairs (so buy a pair of skates!). If you’re into ice hockey a couple of mates and myself bought some sticks and went to play on a rink north of Yorkville. At the Chestnut Residence there were heaps of exchange students living on our floor (UK, NZ, Italy, Sweden, Argentina) and we often went out to the Madison nights together or on trips within the region. The residence is a converted hotel and has still retained the buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is a nice touch. To get around I bought a second hand bike cheaply and the ride to the university was around a 7 minutes or a 15-minute walk. The bike was definitely useful for saving money from the metro fares and there are some great rides along the waterfront. If you’re into sailing, consider checking out the U of T’s sailing club, I managed to race a couple of regattas, with one in Montreal and the other in upper New York.

On a sailing boat

I hope this gives you a good idea about the exchange experience. It’s terribly difficult summing up 6 months of experiences and this would only represent the very briefest summary of activities & events unique to Toronto. Even writing these concluding remarks I can think of an enormous number of great times worthy of recanting. Stick in an application and get on a flight. You’ll have the best time of your life.

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