1. Check out the skyline properly.
If you’re gonna go, at least do it justice with a decent landscape shot. Toronto has an amazing skyline!
2. Support the teams.
Hockey tickets are usually discounted or even free for students. Canadians take their sport seriously so why not share the enthusiasm?
3. Try the poutine.
It may not look great but it’s a tasty treat and comes in a million different ways. There’s always the basics (chips, gravy and cheese curds), and then you can throw some pulled pork or peas and chicken/bacon on top. Even McDonalds sells poutine!
4. Go snowboarding/skiing.
If you’re going to be in a country that is known for having snow then embrace it and hit the slopes. Lots of places have student deals, and your University may even set up an event.
5. Go to a big sporting event.
It may be the only opportunity to see major teams like the New York Knicks. Grab some beers and have some fun!!
6. Do something solo.
Studying abroad is about meeting new people, but it’s also about finding yourself. Do something you enjoy. Go out by yourself and do something you enjoy! (I’d normally try to convince a friend to tag along with me to stuff like Toronto’s Comic Con but I went alone had a great time.)
7. Embrace the snow.
There’s a lot of it. Get used to it. Your body will acclimate to the cold weather and then you get to make millions of snow angels!
8. Visit the islands.
As mentioned before, visit Toronto Islands. It’s around $8 return and you get some great views. It can be limited in the winter months but there’s a farm with friendly animals that you can visit.
9. Befriend the other exchange students,
The University will likely set up a group for everyone to meet and hold events to help ease you into your new city. These people will become part of your survival and may end up becoming your new best friend!
10. Buy alcohol (responsibly!)
You can only buy alcohol at either the beer store or the LCBO. Seriously, nowhere else other than bars will sell you anything. The stores close around 10pm meaning impromptu parties are a pain if you haven’t previously stocked up!
11. Go wandering.
Take the opportunity to wander around and maybe get lost. You’ll get to see the place in a way that others don’t.
12. Visit Timmy’s.
Named and co-founded by a former Ice Hockey player, this is Canada’s Starbucks. They are so cheap and incredibly delicious. They have amazing coffee, donuts, bagels, and sometimes even sandwiches. Plus, you can find Tim Hortons everywhere.
13. Use public transportation.
It’s a set price for a single journey. $3 from point A to point B. Regardless of how long your journey is, you can go from bus to metro to streetcar providing you grab a transfer all for that one price. That means you can get from the airport to downtown Toronto for THREE BUCKS!! They also have a system where they’ll drop women off between stops on along the bus route after 9pm to ensure they are safer!!
14. Achieve your dreams.
This is Jiffy Pop. This stuff let me pretend I was Drew Barrymore in Scream without any judgement.
15. Visit Niagara Falls.
It’s not that far from Toronto and you can usually pick up a good deal with Megabus. The town is full of the worlds worst wax museums and an overpriced iHop but the falls are mesmerizing.
16. Lean over the CN Tower.
Ok, so this isn’t for everyone. It’s certainly not cheap but it was a great thing to do before departing the city. Plus, you get a video of it, a photograph, and access to all the CN Tower anyway!
17. Stuff your face.
There’s lots of places you’ve seen or heard of that you’ll probably want to try. Some are a great value and depending on the student housing, you’ll be eating out a lot anyway. So try something you can’t get at home!
18. Leave the city.
If you’ve made the decision to move that far then why not go that little bit further? Grab some flights to other Canadian cities or even get the Greyhound/Megabus over into the US. Explore!
19. Take in an exhibition.
Search for local events on a regular basis and you’ll be amazed at the things that are happening throughout the year. I was fortunate enough to meet Gemma Correll in the last few days on my trip after finding out about an exhibition in a local store.
20. Stay in touch.
Even a weekly catch-up with a select few from your life back home can cheer you up if you’re homesick. . If you can’t always Skype thanks to a crappy internet connection, then exchange emails to help you to not feel like you’re missing on things back home.
21. Visit the clubs.
Be warned that most bars/clubs have a cover charge and you are expected to tip the bar staff too! Toronto has an amazing bar scene brimming with character. There’s also a thriving LGBT scene.
22. Find a real snowflake.
Toronto gets proper snow. It’s beautiful and really should be noticed. So stop, take a look and admire.
23. Celebrate with your new friends.
Don’t forget that other people are away from home too and this may even be their first trip abroad, so make an effort to celebrate birthdays and local holidays with people and really get involved in the festivities!
24. Go to class.
It may sound obvious but after a while, you’ll start to get lazy . Class scheduling is different, and the classes are usually longer. Don’t be surprised if you have classes until 9pm or later. Make the most of the facilities since there may be things you don’t get the opportunity to use at your own institution.
25. Keep others updated.
You may not want to Skype or e-mail people, but do try to keep your social media sites updated with your activities as people will enjoy seeing what you’re up to and it’ll reassure your parents.
26. And finally, have fun!
You may be there to study, but the lecturers understand that you are also there to try new things and experience the city. Don’t take it all too seriously and remember that it’s ok to miss home. Just try to have as much fun as you can!