Preparing for/Arriving in Canada!

By Modinat Tijani, Queen’s University, Canada

View from the plane
JFK Airport in New York
Downtown Toronto

So as I expected, booking a transatlantic trip from London to Toronto was not straightforward for me (is anything ever??). There were a bunch of things I needed to do before I could book my flight. These included: my study permit, my Kingston accommodation, figuring out how to get from Toronto to Kingston in adequate time, etc. Emphasis on the study permit, because that took a while and had me STRESSED. The advice I’d give to anyone doing their year abroad specifically in Ontario would be to get your study permit and biometric applications in as soon as you can! I had a small misunderstanding when it came to that… all I can say is open and check your emails thoroughly!

I had to look on Facebook marketplace for my accommodation which was also stressful because you can’t see the places that you want. The best bet would be to find someone to sublease off or do a lease takeover with someone. After many ‘Hi! My name is Modinat, I’m a future exchange student at queen’s….’ messages to people with places, I found a great place even though the price wasn’t so great….

My trip had a layover in New York (JFK) which made my trip to Kingston journey like 20 hours which was not fun at all, plus JKF was extremely expensive.  The border control process was very quick in Toronto and the officers were very nice but in New York I was a little nervous seeing them with guns and everything. 

Trying to get out of Toronto airport, I got slightly lost. You’re supposed to take the shuttle to a specific terminal which then you can get the train into the city. But what I didn’t realise is that I had landed at the terminal that you can get the train directly from (no shuttle necessary), so I was going between terminals in the shuttle trying to figure out where to go. And when I finally asked someone where to go he immediately said ‘you’re definitely not from here’.  

Things that I immediately noticed about Canada were the stop signs are different. Instead of having a green man for go, the person is a white light and cars can turn even on a stop light. There were so many visible power lines plus, on the day that I landed, there was a Toronto Maple Leafs game and there were so many people on the pavement (sidewalk). I don’t think I’d ever seen that many people before. Another thing that I noticed was that the cars are huge, and the roads are huge which is probably why the cars are so big. When I got to my accommodation in Kingston, my landlord was there ready with the key. The first thing I did was shower and brush my teeth (that was a must because I’d been travelling for over 20 hours). Over the next few days, I met with my flatmate and went to grocery shopping. I that saw the prices were kind of outrageous (life is scarily pricey). One thing that I wish I knew before being in Kingston is that on Tuesdays students get 10% off quite a few grocery stores: food basics, Loblaw’s and metro. Another thing, is that metro is the closest to campus but the most expensive and Grant No Frills tends to be the cheapest.

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