New to Toronto? Learn From a Newcomer

Last week I had someone ask me what it’s like to live in Toronto. At first, I thought that I might not be the best person to answer, because I’ve only been living in the city since August. Then I realized that as a newcomer to the city, I might be in the best position to describe what it’s like living here for your first year at least. As you might know I’m from a small town outside of Ottawa – not entirely in the middle of nowhere (with nine thousand people it might as well have been), but still a very different landscape from Toronto. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt living here, and some of the things I love.

First off, living on residence doesn’t mean that you miss out on the full Toronto experience. Frosh week is the first chance for people to experience Toronto’s downtown if its their first time in the city, but it doesn’t have to be your last. My first tip is don’t be scared of heading into the city. It’s true that at first you might be more comfortable going in a group, but for the most part Toronto is a pretty safe city and easy to get around. While downtown might be the first place you head out to, there are plenty of interesting places closer to Glendon that you can end up as well that are closer to Glendon. Either way, dealing with the TTC, our mass transit system, is a skill you’ll want to learn fast and get comfortable with.

Get used to using the TTC all day every day.

Get used to using the TTC all day every day.

The system costs $3.00 to use, and if you’re smart about trip planning you can leave and come back to Glendon on the same payment. The system covers most of Toronto, so you’ll be able to get pretty much anywhere. All the major malls are located right on the subway line, like Yorkdale, Fairview and the Eaton Center. In general the buses are more tedious to take, but the line at Glendon to the subway is an easy trip to take. If you’re taking the bus, make sure you know which ones you’re taking before you go, and have a TTC app on you.

Two of the more regular trips you’ll make living on residence are to the nearest Metro or Shoppers Drug Mart – and here I offer the Law of The Square, which absolutely relies on the transfer.

One of my favorites is to take the 11 Bus North to a metro, use the transfer to head West towards Yonge Street to take the subway, grab a transfer in the subway station, head down to Lawrence and grab Starbucks and use that second transfer to head back to Glendon on the 124.

There are tons of different ways to use this strategy! You’ll start figuring out more ways to use this when you start using the TTC more. It’s important to get a TTC app as soon as you can – some of them give the exact time until the next bus comes, while others will show you the entire map of the system. Also, the subway closes at 12:20 each night; after a pub night, you’ll want to consider this when you plan out how to get home.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you’re out and about in Toronto is the amount of new buildings being constructed. As the Crane Capital of North America, there are literally dozens of apartments and condos being constructed across the city. The face of Toronto is changing, but the new units being put on the market aren’t helping a student looking for rent; if you plan to have your own place and not live on campus, you’re going to be fairly far from the campus or in a very small apartment if you’re on a budget. If you’re not from Toronto, I would recommend residence first year to meet friends and get the social experience – second year you can start looking at apartments with friends to save everyone’s money.

Toronto is a growing system - with the most construction cranes in North America.

These are beautiful apartment buildings… way out of student’s price range.

Another great thing about Toronto is the availability of food. Food is everywhere; it varied, it is delicious, it is cheap, and you get lots for your money. I’m used to a town with three greasy spoons, pizza and a Chinese restaurant or two; Toronto has opened up a world of possibilities for my taste buds. As a food lover, this has been something I’m so excited for, and I’ve already been introduced to things like ramen and authentic Greek food. On top of this, you can food as late as you want (usually), so when you’re having cravings for something like wings or cheesecake (OMNOMNOMNOMNOM) you can get it without leaving your room! When you’re living and studying with a bunch of people who live around Toronto you’ll start to build a list of the best restaurants to eat at (and eventually, the best clubs, pubs and hang outs).

ORDER ALL THE FOOD

ORDER ALL THE FOOD

The last thing about living is Toronto is that you suddenly have a huge amount of people and opportunities all around. The amount of people at Glendon aren’t the only people you’ll meet – there’s also fifty thousand people at Keele Campus you might come into contact with. You could get a part-time job, or end up meeting prospective employers on and off campus. The connections you’ll make in the city are much more frequent than pretty much anywhere else you’ll be, especially if you’re comparing life in the city to life in a small town or in the country; it’s a completely different world.

There's always a cafe that you can stop at for coffee with your best friend.

There’s always a cafe that you can stop at for coffee with your best friend.

You’ll meet plenty of people to call your friend, and a few who will be your best friend. Toronto is an amazing city to get out and explore, and the people are friendly!

If you have any other questions about Toronto, leave your thoughts below!

– N

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