Life as a Third Culture Student at Ryerson

For those of you who may not know, I’m from a lot of places. I don’t limit myself to choose only one country or place that I consider home. So what does that mean for me here at Ryerson? Keep reading to find out!

South African Medical Supplies

Before my arrival in Toronto, my mom made sure to stock me up with all the medical supplies that she could possibly think of from South Africa. I get pretty bad migraines, and I remember using this painkiller called MyPaid from South Africa for four years of my life and then another year here in Canada. I refused to try out the regular Advils and Tylenol they had in drugstores here, because I didn’t believe they could ever do the job as well as my South African painkillers did. After a few months and several migraines later, I decided to try out Tylenol and to my utmost surprise, they work just the same!

Indian Cosmetics

Do you have one favourite moisturizer, lipstick, or shampoo brand that you will religiously use until the day you die? I have an Indian hand cream. All my friends in all the countries I’ve lived in associate me with this cream and its distinct lavender scent. They had a store in South Africa where I could readily purchase it anytime I wanted. Coming to Toronto, I couldn’t find this cream or brand anywhere. I considered Amazon ordering it for hundreds of dollars, but stopped myself when I realized Toronto must have a Little India. After all, Toronto has beautiful ethnic towns such as Little Italy, Chinatown, Greektown, Portugal Village, Little Malta, Koreatown and so much more. And sure enough – Toronto has Little India! As soon as I got off the 20-minute streetcar, it was like being teleported into a whole other country. The scents, the people, the music, the decoration – everything felt like India. I was ecstatic to have found not only a huge supply of my hand cream there – but also long-forgotten (but greatly missed) Indian snacks, sweets and traditional ingredients! How did I only discover it after three years of living here??

Relating to Friends

I’ve never been picky about friends. I become friends with whoever I ‘vibe’ with. Anyone who brings any kind of joy to my life – I love. But there are definitely days when in conversations with my Indian friends, we relate to each other in a whole different kind of way. We can appreciate Bollywood movies together, rant about specific #strictparent problems together, or gush over the mouth-watering food (mainly consists of me eating their food from home). I love all my friends, but I especially love my friends who bring me homemade Indian food!

What am I?

“Where are you from?” – one of the most common questions that come up in every person’s day to day life. Whether in job interviews, application forms, classroom icebreakers, first dates or the beginning of friendships, the most obvious answer for me would be to say ‘India’ because that’s where my passport is from. But how do I answer this question when they ask me specifically so they can decode where my accent is from? Or when they ask me to understand how I was able to relate to something only a South African or a European person may be able to relate to. This begins my now-memorized background story: “My dad is an Indian diplomat. I have lived in…” Sometimes I wish I carried around a piece of paper with that explanation so I could just whip it out anytime I’m asked this question – but I don’t in the fear of weirding people out. But it’s always funny to see people’s eyes widen at my story and look at me in a different light.


All that said, I love being a third culture student at Ryerson. And you’ll find that I’m not alone – there are so many international and third culture students here. It’s an incredible feeling to see just how many people share the same diverse background as you!

Related Posts
Emma on Ryerson campus