So the end of term was a little stressful. I had 5 days between my last lecture and my first exam. All my exams were on consecutive days 🙁 so it wasn’t easy compared to the weeks of revision over the holidays and exam period you get in Manchester. Luckily, they all went ok and I had a few days to celebrate in Toronto before my flight home.
I was so ready and so happy to go home for two weeks. It was brilliant to see my friends and family again. I took a surprisingly long time to get over my jet lag and had to resort to Nytol! I had been warned that going home for Christmas would make going back to Toronto again a lot harder. For me this wasn’t the case. One of my school friends flew back with me and we stayed in New York for a few days before a week together in Toronto! It’s funny because while I loved being home, I found that I also really missed Toronto! I missed the weather, the shops, the cat (yes my housemate got a cat!) so really, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it could have been.
NEW YORRRRRK CONCRETE JUNGLE WHERE THINGS ARE MADE OF, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CANT DOOO
I loved New York and it is definitely my favourite place I have travelled to. As we drove in from the airport and the skyline appeared for the first time, we were so giddy with excitement. We stayed in a budget hotel called Pod 51 which I definitely recommend. It was so close to Time Square so that was obviously the first place we went to! We then met up with one of my exchange friends in Toronto and visited all the Gossip Girl and Sex and the City key spots! It was amazing! Central Park was so cold that some of the lakes had frozen over and drinking hot chocolate wandering around them was my personal highlight. I loved the Empire State Building – we went just before sunset so got the full range of light over the stunning skyline – and walking over the Brooklyn bridge.
We did the full range of museums and art galleries. (Recommend checking which days they have a ‘pay what you think the exhibition deserves’ policy as it made them a lot more affordable). I found that the museum which affected me most was definitely the 9/11 museum. Allow yourself at least 2 hours as the exhibition is very long. You start at the memorials which are beautiful. The shear number of names along the water is shocking and the atmosphere around them was so quiet and reflective. You also have the freedom tower soaring above you as you’re down by the water. The exhibition was hugely thought provoking and very emotional and upsetting. However, I’m so glad I did it and understand better the enormity of the event, its aftermath and how New York as well as the rest of the world has changed since.
We booked tickets a few months in advance to go up to the crown in the statue of liberty. At the time the tickets were sold out until March so we didn’t know how lucky we were! The platform in the crown was tiny and you couldn’t stand up. The view out of the windows was great! You had to walk up this really really steep spiral stair case to get there and so many people didn’t make it up because of this.
After an 11 hour night coach full of New York playlists and attempts at sleeping, we arrived back in Toronto. I think I’m going to enjoy my new courses a lot more this term which I’m really excited about. The weather has turned bitterly cold since I left. The wind chill is FREEZING! I’m so glad I bought a winter coat! Personally, despite the cold, I definitely prefer the weather in Toronto- it hardly ever rains, the seasons are very definite and different and if you have the appropriate attire, it’s manageable!
I went on a ski trip organised by my college for the equivalent of £20!!!! It was so much fun. The resort was called Blue Mountain and it had lots of runs from the top to the bottom so you had to get chair lifts a lot. I only managed to take one photo (it was -29 degrees at the top and my phone just turned off because it was too cold!). Sitting on the chair lifts was also the coldest I’ve ever been in my life. The view of Lake Ontario from the top was breath taking. Advice for UofT exchanges: wait until Woodsworth college sells tickets for their ski trip to try skiing – it’s less than half the price!