Coming to Toronto in the Fall [First Year Perspective]

– Aiden Chow, Hong Kong Delegate

As a first-year student, I was extremely eager to come to U of T to start my new university life. Although the COVID-19 situation was worrying in Canada, I decided to come to Toronto soon after I got accepted by U of T in May. The main reason for it is the 12-hour time difference. Attending classes in the middle of the night will certainly disrupt my circadian rhythm and my study efficiency will definitely be affected. Coming to Toronto is the obvious choice to mitigate the time zone problem. 

After I arrived in Toronto and finished my quarantine, I truly believe I made the right choice. Being in Toronto allowed me to explore the magnificent U of T campus. I got involved in a lot of amazing clubs and design teams, which usually have meetings during daytime Toronto. If I didn’t come to Toronto, these meetings would take place late at night and they are usually not recorded, so I’m glad that I can attend these meetings comfortably when the Sun is still up. 

Moreover, as an international student, I learned a lot more about the Canadian culture by living here in Toronto independently. Walking on the streets, watching local TV shows, and speaking with people living in Toronto all let me know more about the Toronto lifestyle.

Living in Toronto makes me feel I’m truly a part of the U of T community. However, there are also some challenges during my time here, the most apparent one being separated from my family and friends. Sometimes, I do feel quite lonely despite already having video calls with my family and friends frequently. I spent most of my time in my room watching lectures and studying and it feels more and more boring over time. On top of that, Toronto is now in lockdown, most shops are closed so there are not a lot of interesting places for my friends and me to go to. 

If you are considering whether or not you should come to Toronto, I will advise against it despite all the benefits I mentioned. To begin with, most of the classes I had this fall have moved to asynchronous mode. Only two or three classes are live and take attendance, but you can request to move those classes to early morning Toronto time to suit your time zone. Therefore, time zone problems are not major issues anymore. Besides, you have probably adapted to your own way of studying remotely this semester. Staying in the Toronto time zone only allows you to join club meetings more easily. Furthermore, you will be separated from your family and friends if you come to Toronto. You may find it hard to live alone.

Then who should come to Toronto? If you are uncomfortable with studying at home due to time zone problems, you can consider coming to Toronto to mitigate the problem, but be aware of the problem of staying away from your family and friends, and remember to stay positive. Otherwise, I believe you won’t miss out on much staying at home. Hopefully, in the next school year, we can go back to in-person teaching and finally experience campus life.