Welcome to Toronto! It’s the largest city in Canada, one of the most diverse cities in the world... and home to one of the greatest medical schools. J However, Toronto can also be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you're from out of town.
Originally from Vancouver, I found my first year of moving to Toronto to be an exciting time. It wasn't easy to choose to move here, but I've started to settle into T-dot. Here are my top 10 things that make Toronto feel more like home, even when you're away from home.
10) Great food, wherever you're from. Toronto has a vibrant food scene, and there are so many great restaurants to discover. From the dumplings of Chinatown to the best Ethiopian food I've ever had, Toronto has many delicious spots to explore.
Indian food, just one of many great options in town!
9) A billion event and activities. There is always something happening - be it cool concerts, festivals, or other events. I remember getting to see one of my favourite bands, Stars, perform live at City Hall within my first week! BlogTO is a great way to keep a pulse on all the exciting events.
Getting to see one of your favourite bands play a free outdoor concert is pretty awesome.
8) "A World in a City." Toronto is aptly lauded for its cultural diversity. One of my favourite things to do in my spare time is just explore a new neighbourhood - be it Little Italy, Cabbagetown, or Mimico Beach. I've walked through the graffiti alleys near Queen Street and explored the little shops of Kensington Market. Each neighbourhood brings its own unique feel and is filled with lots of neat places to explore.
Yorkville during the 2014 Icefest
7) Getting away from the city. Admittedly, I miss the mountains and beaches of Vancouver! However, I've had a chance to explore the beautiful Muskoka Lakes region, and the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group often arranges a lot of great outings to nearby nature - a highlight was braving the first winter storm of the year while hiking through Boyne Valley.
U of T Meds goes hiking through Boyne Valley
6) Hospitals, your clinical home. There was a moment during O-week when we were grabbing dinner at the CN Tower that I looked out at Toronto and realized how amazing it is to serve this great community. There are so many world-class hospitals here, filled with great teachers & mentors and exciting opportunities to learn. Toronto is a hub of medical innovation and you can feel the energy in the hospitals and within your academies.
The iconic stent leading from St. Michael's hospital to the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute
5) Arts and culture. Being a big fan of the arts, I was drawn to Toronto's eclectic arts scene. From jazz brunches to photography exhibitions, there's a lot to enjoy in the city. Highlights for me have been $14 student tickets to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and being a part of the Art and Medicine enriched educational experience (EEE) at the Art Gallery of Ontario. There's also a great arts community at U of T - from our ArtBeat blog to Cinema Medica film screenings and discussion – and plenty more to engage the humanities!
The Royal Ontario Museum at night
4) When you gotta study... Yeah, med school isn't all outings and fun-times. There is a lot to study and learn, but the University of Toronto is a great place to do it! From running into other med students (especially helpful when you need a hug) at Gerstein Library, to quieter study spaces around the beautiful campus, not to mention our study spaces in the hospital and at McCaul - there are many places to buckle down with a cup of tea and get some serious studying done.
Checking out some medical history in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
3) You've got help when you need it. Sure, taking a big risk such as entirely changing cities and leaving home can be a big change. But there are many support systems at U of T to help out. From counselling through OHPSA to wellness activities through SALT… When homesickness sets in, or other difficulties arise, there's a place to turn. And not to mention, the people who will be there for you most (see #2).
The Great Hall at Hart House
2) Friends. I'm amazed with the great friendships that I've built with some people in my class. It's great to be on this journey with some wonderful people, and to build some really unique friendships. There's a fit for everyone and their unique interests and personalities. I've had a lot of fun at potlucks, board game nights, parties, ugly sweater runs, and even gastrointestinal physiology pasta crafting. I'm so thankful for great friends that I've met through U of T Med! Our laugh-filled adventures, and supporting each other through difficult times, is what makes U of T feel like home.
Another (competitive) board games night!
1) You. At the end of the day, making Toronto your home is your choice. The city has a lot to offer, but you want to make sure you choose the place that not only makes you feel most at home, but allows you to grow the most. Remember, not only will Toronto be a place to live, but a community that is yours. What you bring and hope to gain from where you live will be an important factor in where you decide to pursue your medical studies. Hopefully you’ll find your fit here in the dynamic city of Toronto and with the U of T Medicine family!
We'd love to have you in Toronto!