An international student’s guide to Toronto
Sara Imran CONTRIBUTOR
Photo: Nuit Blanche. Tourism Toronto.
When I moved to Toronto in 2016, I was initially overwhelmed by the plethora of places to visit and things to do. An international student’s guide to the city would have been very useful at the time, and so I’m hoping this one will help some of you who are new and trying to adjust to the city. The great thing about Toronto is that there are always events going on so, there is something for everybody! Here are some of my favourite things to do in the city:
This is (arguably) the most important part of this guide! There are innumerable places to dine in the city — so many that you could live here for four years and still not visit even half of them! Since the city is so multicultural, there are many kinds of diverse cuisines available. However, my two favourite places to eat at are The Big Chill and Sushi on Bloor. The Big Chill is an old-fashioned retro ice cream parlour located on Manning Avenue, and it really reminds me of Pop’s Chock-lit Shoppe from Riverdale! Not only are The Big Chill’s gelato flavours, milkshakes, and sundaes absolutely divine, it also has an arcade situated at the back. However, it is strictly cash-only so remember to carry some change with you if you do end up going. Sushi on Bloor is located on Bloor Street West (as the name suggests). What differentiates this great sushi spot from the surrounding ones is not only great taste but also great price. As a student, it can be hard to find reasonably priced dining options in Toronto. However, Sushi on Bloor occasionally offers deals where you can have salad, miso soup, sushi rolls, and ice cream all for under $10!
What to do on a Friday night:
If you’re bored on a Friday night, not to worry — the options are unlimited. If you’re in the mood for clubbing, The Dance Cave is a great place to go. Not only is it located extremely close to campus, it is also free for students! The only con — you have to be 19+. If you do end up going, remember to bring your student ID with you. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, Snakes & Lattes is a fun place to go with friends. It has almost every board game you can think of as well as a variety of food and beverages!
Some of Toronto’s festivals are a must-see for newcomers to the city. Nuit Blanche (which was on September 29 this year) is a city-wide arts festival that runs from sunset to sunrise and is a wonderful way to explore creative pursuits from various local artists. Visiting the Christmas Market located in the Distillery Historic District during winter is a fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit. The market has quaint stalls and shops that sell various souvenirs and holiday items, entertaining performances, delicious food, and beautiful lighting. Plus, you can get a picture with Santa! The Toronto Light Fest is another must-see: it takes place in spring, also in the Distillery Historic District, and has beautiful works made out of (you guessed it) lights!
I always recommend BMV Books to everyone I meet. Situated minutes away from campus on Bloor, this bookstore is a treasure. You can find novels, comic books, posters, records, DVDs, and various other items at a fraction of the price of anywhere else.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is an essential visit for every newcomer to the city. It is the largest museum in Canada and has collections of fossils, minerals, costumes, and much more. There are always new and interesting exhibits being featured so be sure to keep an eye out. The ROM is located practically on campus and is free for students on Tuesdays. Another go-to place is Graffiti Alley, located in the trendy neighbourhood of Queen Street West. You haven’t really been to Toronto unless you’ve taken pictures with a backdrop of cool graffiti!
I hope this guide was useful — get ready to have a blast exploring this exciting cosmopolitan city!