This week, I’ll be talking to you about my experience as an international student moving from a small island (Barbados) to a big city. When I moved to Toronto in 2017, it was my first time living in a city (let alone a city with almost 3 million inhabitants at the time).
I’m going to share with you the reason I chose to move to a big city like Toronto, the biggest challenges I faced, and how I overcame them.
One of the main reasons I chose Ryerson was because of its location downtown Toronto.
In this picture I took, you can see the beautiful Toronto skyline within the heart of Ryerson’s campus (this is called the Quad) right at the centre of it all. Something that stood out to me about the city was the way it’s so lively while also being quieter than busier cities like New York City, for example.
One thing you notice once you live here is that even though you’re technically in Canada’s biggest and busiest city, downtown has a way of making you feel like it really is just another small town, and you’ll start seeing people you know wherever you go.
That being said, there are some pretty big changes I experienced moving to Toronto on my own.
- The environment
Let’s start with the obvious – living in a small country that’s easily crossed in under 30 minutes is going to be very different to living in the biggest city in Canada. That’s what’s exciting! I was definitely nervous about being somewhere new on my own for the first time, but fortunately I was able to receive all the support I needed from our International Student Support (ISS) office. They helped me feel at home and adjust to my new life in Canada with their awesome on-campus events, especially during my first few weeks on campus.
- Finding your way around
The second thing I had to adjust to was how to get around. Back home, there really is minimal public transit and if you want to get anywhere, your best bet is to have a car. What I love about being in the heart of downtown Toronto is that everything is either a short subway stop or nice walk away. Plus, you’ll notice once you use Toronto’s subway system (TTC) a couple times, it’s a pretty easy system to navigate.
- Finding your inner circle
Of course, one big thing that might be on your mind is how you’re going to make and maintain new friendships. This is definitely something that was on my mind, because no matter where you choose to do your university studies, it’s going to wind up being different to the high school experience, and you’ll have to find your new inner circle.
Something I noticed was that a lot of students who weren’t new to Toronto already had their circles from high school. As an international student, you’ll definitely have to try to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people. Fortunately, I was able to create a lot of friendships that stuck through the various community building events ISS offers. A lot of the people I met through ISS I’m still friends with to this day, and I really recommend as a new international student that you take advantage of the events they host. Even during the current global pandemic, their events have moved online.
At the end of the day, being located in such a big city is what adds to Ryerson’s uniqueness. All the great support we have on campus for international students made my transition from not only high school to university, but from a small country to a big city so smooth!
Stay tuned for my next post, and if you’re interested in hearing more about my international student experience, you can book a one-on-one meeting with me!