Dual degree in Engineering and Science (majoring in Electrical and Physics).
Dual degree in Engineering and Science (majoring in Electrical and Physics).

I’m John, a second year student, studying a dual degree in Engineering and Science (majoring in Electrical and Physics). I studied at the University of Toronto (UofT) in semester 2 of 2014. I chose to study abroad as a means to string two holidays together, and extend my time overseas, without falling behind in my degree.
I picked Toronto as a city to live and study in for a plethora of reasons. It’s English speaking, I love the cold, apparently it’s very liveable, it has a great rated university, and several other personal reasons. However, I’d never been anywhere in the continent of North America before, so everything I ‘knew’ was information I had read online.


To summarise my trip, I would have to say that I enjoyed the city of Toronto more than Brisbane, but I think UQ tops UofT any day, as a place to complete your undergraduate degree.
Doing an exchange anywhere is most likely an exercise in chaos as classes fill up, and timetabling is always difficult. It is highly likely that subjects you have had approved at UQ may not be offered any more, and you’ll have to pick more. The most important thing, is to not stress about it, and take advantage of the meeting time with the Centre for International Exchange office. Try to arrive in Toronto at LEAST one week before classes start, and get to know the university and make sure your subjects have been approved.
The teaching methods at UofT are also different to UQ, and be ready for it. There is less pressure on the lecturers to help you, and more pressure for you to help yourself. I found this a shock coming from UQ. This can (and often does) lead to university becoming extremely stressful. If you find yourself stressing, try to find a nice group of friends, or an extra-curricular group that is right for you.


UofT also has many positives. The whole campus is beautiful, and in the fall semester it transforms from green to yellow and red, and finally white as the temperatures plummet, and the snow starts to fall. (Never expect to get a snow day either. This is Canada, not America, and UofT stops for no amount of snow.) Also, the university offers a wide range of free intramural sport, and free gym for its students. I played hockey several times a week at the varsity arena for free.
The best thing about UofT is that it is located in downtown Toronto, and Toronto as a city is AMAZING. With small and large festivals every week in summer, thousands of shops and bars all around the city, an organised and efficient public transport network, great food, and endless activities, it will keep you busy throughout the year. BlogTO is a fantastic website for keeping up to date with festivals, free activities, and the best restaurants around the city. Toronto is an amazing city.


Tips for people coming to Toronto:
1. Housing:
The two most popular choices are to live in a share house, or in a residence, with Tartu, and Chestnut being the two most popular for exchange students. If you’re going to walk to campus, try not to stay too far away, as walking for more than 30 mins in -40 degree temperature can cause some problems. Just be organised and come to Toronto as early as you can to get it sorted.
2. Life:
University will be tough, so be ready for it. But don’t stress, explore the city, play sports, hang with friends! Regardless of what you do, you’ll be surrounded by people at all hours of the day in Toronto, so make some new friends and enjoy yourself.
3. Travel:
The Greyhound bus terminal on Bay St has buses that will take you to New York, Niagara, Detroit, Chicago, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and all over America really cheaply. Take advantage of them.
4. Misc:
If you’re going to get a phone number, Fido is one of the best carriers for travellers. They don’t need as much information, are cheap, and have great customer service.
If you want anything cheaply, use kijiji.ca. It is Canada’s version of gumtree. I got a $200 textbook for $15.
Join the UofT exchange Facebook page. Before university starts everyone always meets up and it’s a good way to make friends.
If you intend to fly a lot, often taking a bus to Buffalo, and then flying, is much cheaper than flying directly out of Canada. Travel in Canada is really expensive.
5. Clothes:
In winter, Toronto can reach -40 with wind chill. Coming from Australia you will probably not have too many cold clothes, so go and stock up before it drops below 0. The most important things are a coat, and boots. Without these two things, you’ll really struggle, so get some good ones. And you don’t need to drop $700 on a Canada Goose coat, there are cheaper options.

Toronto is amazing as a city, and although studying at UofT was difficult and frustrating at times, my entire exchange experience was incredible. If you come to Toronto, you’ll stay in a world class city, and have an absolute blast while studying!

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