By Nicole Rankine (University of Toronto, Canada)
So, yes, my time in Toronto is sadly over, but as my next post will focus on, my journey is not yet over as I am about to begin an internship here in San Francisco. First of all, however, I want to properly say goodbye to Toronto by listing five of the many things I loved about living there, and recommend that other people do to enjoy their time abroad.
- GO TO NIAGARA FALLS
Going to Niagara Falls had been a must on my ‘to do’ list in Toronto from the very beginning. Not only is it one of America’s great natural wonders, but it is also conveniently only an hour and a half away from downtown Toronto, and thus many tours offering to take you there from the city are available. On first seeing Niagara Falls I felt a mix of emotions; whilst the Falls themselves were spectacular, the town was a little disappointing as it had been heavily commercialised and plagued with casinos. This I thought had reduced some of my overall amazement with the beauty of the Falls. Saying this, however, the town did not have an impact on the fun I had during my visit. First of all the nearby town, Niagara on the Lake, gave me the beauty and charm I was expecting to find on my visit, and secondly, the ‘Maid of the Mist’ tour, a boat which takes you right up to the Falls, was an absolutely unforgettable experience.
4. EXPLORE THE MANY NEIGHBOURHOODS OF TORONTO
Toronto is the perfect city for taking a peaceful stroll, with the city offering many interesting neighbourhoods worth taking a look at. I think my favourite places to walk through in the city were Bloor Street, Yorkville, Yonge Street, and down by the Habourfront. To me, each of these areas offered something different. For instance, to me, Bloor Street represented Toronto at its most glamorous, with massive skyscrapers and pricey shops, such as Prada and Gucci, surrounding you. Just across from Bloor Street was Yorkville, which gave you a completely different scenery, one more old-fashioned, as if you had just stepped back into the 70s. Yonge Street always offered an unpredictable and interesting walk, whether you were just strolling past the bizarre shops there, or perhaps a fake plane crash (in this case the film-set for the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad’).
- RELAX ON TORONTO ISLAND
It is first worth mentioning that you should do this when it is warm: trust me, you will find it hard to relax here if you visit in January or February, but in the spring it is the perfect place to grab a book, have some ‘me time’, and escape from the liveliness of the city. Unlike the rest of downtown Toronto, and many cities in general, this island offers you a large area completely car free and packed with trees; in fact my tour guide told me that the islands were a ‘tree museum’. In addition, there are many nice sand beaches to visit here (but just a little FYI, a few are nudist). Apart from the tranquility of the island, however, the reason why going to the islands is a must in my book, is because this is where you get your postcard picture of the Toronto skyline, and it is genuinely a breathtaking sight, especially at sunset.
- EAT, EAT, EAT!!!
This one’s for fellow foodies. Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, with 50% of its residents originating from somewhere else other than Canada. For this reason, the city supplies you with an unbelievably massive variety of cuisine. After I finished my hall meal plan, I was able to make the most of this, and I can’t stress enough how much I loved going out every night searching for a new place to have dinner. Whether it was a sushi buffet, a Canadian restaurant, or a Norwegian café, I found that I got to experience foods that I had previously never heard of, nevermind considered trying.
- TRAVEL AROUND
The number one thing I would recommend doing whilst studying, not only at Toronto but at any university in the world, is to make the most of your new location and explore the surrounding areas and cities, or further if you want, as much as possible. After my stay here I feel like I have now experienced a good variety of the cultures and landscapes that Canada’s east coast has to offer; whether it was visiting Quebec, seeing it’s European-like architecture and trying to remember my GSCE level French skills, or seeing the beautiful scenery of Algonquin National Park (where I finally saw a moose).