Homesickness Tips

By Christevie Ngoma, University of Toronto, Canada

Growing up in London and going to University in Manchester, I honestly thought homesickness was not going to affect me. I spent two years living away from home, and one of them was in a pandemic! So I thought I was an expert on dealing with being distant from family. I thought wrong.

Being a 5 hour drive away from home is one thing, but being an 8 hour plane journey and literally being in a different time zone is another. I did not expect to struggle with missing friends and family to this extent if I am being very honest.

Homesickness looks different for everyone, and can come at different moments. It comes when it’s my friends 21st birthday and everyone is celebrating but I can’t be there. It comes when I see a really good party in Manchester and all my friends have gone without me. It comes when my parents are showing me the new shed that they got in the garden, and I know I can’t see it till summer. Sometimes Homesickness only lasts a day, and then sometimes it can last a week. Particularly for me, I’m not going back home for Christmas, so I know I’m going to feel the brunt of it a lot during this December. At the end of the day, Homesickness is a completely normal feeling when you’re living out the country.

Here are some tips on how I’ve dealt with it!

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Let’s BeReal About The Workload

Work smart, Not hard.

by Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada

In the flurry of signing onto an exchange year, sorting out accommodation and figuring out how to fit 30kg of stuff you probably don’t need into a 23kg suitcase I almost forgot that I was moving across the pond to attend university, learn and do work. 

Once the novelty of new lecturers, peers, new libraries to explore and campus to navigate wore off a little, the reality of attending Canada’s most prestigious university set in. 

my tongue seems to make a stronger feature in this blog than my work ethic...
my tongue seems to make a stronger feature in this blog than my work ethic…

As someone who is prone to becoming stressed from work, I was surprised that I wasn’t losing my mind over the amount being dished-out. Reminiscing over the glorious panic attacks I used to have at the beginning of first year, merely because I couldn’t workout how to login to my university email or find the link of a reading I really didn’t need to do, actually taught me more than I could have imagined at the time. 

Learning to emotionally detach from work when it is a pass/fail year is the best way to get assignments ticked off the list without it impeding on your social life. Not to say, you shouldn’t try, but rather do what needs to be done, and take extra care over the things you enjoy. 

giddy in the libby
giddy in the libby

As such, the work at the university or Toronto has taught me heaps beyond just what the content consists of. How to manage my time, balance university with socialising and detach from work not worth stressing over have been key to both mental and academic success! 

helps that the libraries have a good ol' view
helps that the libraries have a good ol’ view

The takeaway of this blog post is not to discard university life, after all that’s the big reason for doing an exchange; to experience a new style of learning. Instead, engaging in work – especially the parts you most enjoy – while understanding your limits ensures you have the energy to enjoy the rest of what a year abroad has to offer.

As someone wise once said, work smart not hard. 

6 things you should do in your first month in Toronto

By Christevie Ngoma, University of Toronto, Canada

After crying on the plane about leaving my friends and family, I felt a wave of excitement because I realised after weeks of planning a personal statement to apply for the IPO, months of waiting for an answer. I finally made it to Toronto.

The past 3 weeks have been so busy, who would’ve thought that moving to a new country would be so eventful? This blog has tips on what to do and where in your first month as an exchange student!

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The big T-city

(Otherwise known, by a girl in my lecture, as the “Wannabe New York”. either way, no complaints.)

by Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada

Exactly two weeks into my adventure, it’s safe to say Toronto was nothing like I expected it to be… (in a good way don’t worry).

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What Are Fraternities Really Like?

This post will try to demystify frats for exchange students going to North America, and hopefully persuade you to get involved.

By Joseph McCabe (University of Toronto, Canada)

The inner workings of fraternities are often left as somewhat of a mystery for exchange students. Their obscurity and emphasis on secrecy means that infamous stereotypes usually surround any conversation about frats and, by extension, the guys that are members/brothers within them. This blog should give you some insight into what they’re actually about and encourage you (if you’re a guy) to join one because it has made my year infinitely better – girls can join sororities, but you will have to ask someone else about them.

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A Practical Guide to Accommodation in Toronto

By Joseph McCabe (University of Toronto, Canada)

There are four main options for accommodation for exchange students in Toronto: University Halls, Private students’ residence, student co-op housing, and Private renting. I opted to go for a private residence on the edge of campus, which was perfect for me, but I will talk about that later. I will give some general advice first; then, I will go through each of these (there will be a sentence overview after each one if you don’t want to read the whole thing) and finish with what I would advise to make sorting accommodation as stress-free as possible.

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Canadian Transportation Tips

First thing to say is that Canada is massive. Any distance between things you would actually want to see is likely to be the equivalent of going from London to Newcastle – and that’s just within Ontario. Therefore, I would advise against getting the bus between big cities as it just takes too long, and you end up spending half your time away sitting next to fat men on stuffy coaches.

In Ontario, Go Trains would be the ‘go to’ solution (although they are stupidly slow in North America) but travelling inter-province would require VIA Rail. However, whilst the rail-route between Vancouver and Halifax (the whole breadth of Canada) has a global reputation for beautiful scenery and a full Canadian experience, it does take 14 days and costs more than an entire student loan instalment. Whilst it may not be the most environmentally friendly, the only realistic option for longer trips is plane travel.

Planes can be expensive in North America (you won’t find the equivalent of a £20 flight from Manchester to Lisbon), so I’d recommend downloading the ‘Hopper’ app. It lets you track your specific flight and predicts prices so you can get the best deal possible.

(The Hopper App Logo)

You have probably also heard about North American road trips gaining something of cult status in the US, and it’s no different in Canada. Some of the best times I’ve had is whacking on some tunes and driving for hours in the Canadian wilderness. It may be more expensive than other transport, but it gives much more freedom to explore exactly how you want. It also makes COVID-related entry requirements into the US much easier.

Key Take Aways:

  • Don’t bother with buses
  • Download the Hopper app for cheap flights
  • Road trips are unbeatable

The Varsity Life

Advice for elite sportspeople in North America

Quick advice for anyone who wants to play elite level sport while they’re studying abroad in North America.

(experience from the University of Toronto in Canada)

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Life After Toronto: Where Next?

By Paul Alex Treadaway, University of Toronto

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I genuinely have no idea what I’m doing or why this photo was taken in Guanajuato, Mexico

By May last year not only was the Toronto cold beginning to lose its bite as the snow melted into a optimistic Spring, I was all done and dusted studying at U of T. Home time? Well no, not quite yet. The explorer inside me, (Insert a hilarious Dora the Explorer joke here) had some unfinished business to attend to.

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10 Things I miss about living in Toronto and studying at U of T

By  Paul Alex Treadaway, University of Toronto

After six months away from the University of Toronto and the city itself, here are just some of the many things I miss about the city and my time studying there!

1. Tim Hortons

tim hortonsTims is an institution – its hard to explain why. It’s simply always there for you when you need it, morning, noon and most of the night. Coffee, TimBits, surprisingly addictive Chilli where you’re not entirely sure what all the ingredients are but somehow that doesn’t matter, it has almost everything you could want in the vicinity of fast food. Continue reading “10 Things I miss about living in Toronto and studying at U of T”

Life in the Six

By  Paul Alex Treadaway, University of Toronto Living in Toronto has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Its a diverse city with an abundance of culture, food, nightlife, attractions and hidden treasures, but it has also been a second home to me. Because of this, I want to not only talk about […]

By  Paul Alex Treadaway, University of Toronto6F8F764F-D5F3-42AE-BE96-9708AD9B6251

Living in Toronto has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Its a diverse city with an abundance of culture, food, nightlife, attractions and hidden treasures, but it has also been a second home to me. Because of this, I want to not only talk about what makes life in the Six fantastic for anyone, but also what made Toronto special for me during my time there. Continue reading “Life in the Six”