What I wish I knew before going to school in Toronto

To an outsider, Toronto might just seem like an any other city. I mean it has busy streets, bright lights and tall buildings right?

But there’s so much more to Toronto than just that, along with things that make the people living here distinctly Torontonian.

If you’re unfamiliar with Toronto, then here are a few things worth knowing that will make transitioning to life in Toronto a little easier:

It’s not that scary

I get it—moving to a big city can be intimidating, especially if you’re from a pretty small place. But you’ll quickly get used to the hustle and bustle of Toronto, just like I did.

Although Toronto sports a population of nearly three million people, everyone for the most part minds their own business. The Economist Intelligence Unit actually even ranked Toronto as the 6th safest city in the world.

Ryerson also offers a number of services to help you stay safe including the WalkSafe Program and free self-defence classes.

Toronto slang is an entirely different language

Person 1: Fam, come thru to Korean barbeque. The mandem finna reach too. 

Person 2: You dun know, I’m marved styll. I’ll link up with you soon. 

Didn’t catch that? Yeah, I’d have no idea what that would’ve meant before coming to Toronto too. Here’s the translation:

Person 1: My friend, come to Korean barbeque. The guys are coming too. 

Person 2: Of course, I’m so hungry. I’ll join you soon. 

Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it. Before you know it, you’ll be a natural at both understanding and speaking Toronto slang.

Public transit is the most convenient way to get around

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) can get you to just about every corner of the city via subway, bus or streetcar. Of course it’s not perfect, but it’s convenient and you won’t have to worry about finding parking.

For $122.45, students can get a Post-Secondary Monthly Pass providing unlimited travel for a month. That’s $28.70 cheaper than the regular Monthly Pass!


Toronto has an underground city

Beneath the city lies the PATH—30 km worth of shops and restaurants linking many tourist attractions like the CN Tower and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

It’s also a godsend for many commuters as the PATH can take you from Union Station to campus without being exposed to the outdoor elements.

There’s a lot of green space

So. Many. Parks.

If dogs and/or horticulture is your kind of thing, then check out the nearby Allan Gardens. For something more hip and trendy, Trinity Bellwoods Park’s frequent art installations and performances are sure to satisfy you. I could go on about parks all day because there really is a park suitable for everyone in Toronto.

Smack dab in the center of our own campus is the Kerr Hall Quad, an open green space where dog walkers are a common sight and quidditch games slightly less so. It’s my favourite place when I need to go for a walk after a long study session.


People will line up for anything

Have you ever just randomly lined up for something without even knowing what the lineup was for? Well, I have.

Surely free Oreo cookies don’t warrant a lineup of dozens of people? Oh, but it does! Lineups for restaurants and nightclubs are a given, but it’s free food that particularly interests Torontonians, even if it means giving up literal hours of their time.

The next time you see a ridiculously long line in Toronto, really ask yourself first if it’s worth giving up your time for that free snack.

There are so many festivals

Dozens of festivals of all kinds fill the calendar year-round.  Notable ones include the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Pride Toronto Festival, VELD Music Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival, which partially takes place on our own campus.

Toronto—and Ryerson—bring together people from all walks of life. Many Torontonians came here once as outsiders, but are now proud to call this place their home.

I hope that you too will soon be calling Toronto your home.

— Jeremy

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Shot of 5 Ryerson students standing outsideCanadian flag blowing in the wind with the CN Tower in the background