My Exchange to Ryerson University – Toronto, Canada
Going on exchange was hands down the best experience I have had in my entire existence! I had heard about the exchange program during orientation but it seemed like such a bold, scary thing to do! Nevertheless, I applied, was accepted and then packed my bags for 5 months and jetted off to the other side of the world! I cannot describe the feeling as I landed in Toronto International Airport. I was extremely excited but also terrified – I didn’t know anyone in this new, unfamiliar city.
My first week was definitely a highlight – settling into my apartment and assessing the shopping situation (very important!). Ryerson really looked after all the exchange students by offering a full calendar of orientation and social events scheduled for the week before school started. My worries were erased after the first night – all the people you meet are just like you: travelling solo, new to the city and eager to make new friends. The people I met on that first night were the friends I had for my entire exchange, and still remain dear friends today.
Now, to school! Navigating around a new campus was challenging, but by utilising my Australian accent I was graciously pointed in the right direction. Classes were very interesting, as I learned all about Canada’s criminal justice system and it has given me a much more global view of the criminal justice field, as I’m sure it would for any other academic discipline.
Some of the highlights of my exchange were:
- The people – meeting people from all walks of life, from all corners of the world really made more globally aware and interested in the lives they lead back home. They were also equally surprised to find out that we did not ride on kangaroos and that “shrimp on the barbie mate!” is not used in everyday conversation.
- Engaging in the local city culture by going ice skating, seeing a real ice hockey match, watching traditional college football games (with cheerleaders and a marching band!) celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving and visiting all the tourist attractions such as the CN Tower, Kensington Market and the infamous Dundas Square.
- Snow! I cannot describe how exciting it was to walk to school in the morning in the snow.
- Sampling Canadian cuisine such as perogies, beavertails, funnel cake and a good old pint of Molson Canadian Brew!
- Being able to travel during the school break to nearby Niagara Falls, Montreal, New York City and going skiing at the Blue Mountain over New Years.
Ultimately however, despite having to bid a teary farewell to Toronto; what I have learned, the people I have met and the memories that were created are something that I will never, ever forget. If you get the opportunity to go on exchange, throw caution to the wind and just do it – you won’t regret it, I promise![Next: Brigitte Doupe]