Maiya Jade-Murray- University of Toronto

Wednesday 11 December 2019

You may remember Maiya from her fantastic Insta takeover back in October all the way from Toronto! Read below to find out more about how she’s getting on in Canada….

Maiya standing on the shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto

“Hi! I’m Maiya, and I’m spending the third year of my Psychology degree studying at the University of Toronto! I’m currently halfway through my first semester here, and hopefully this will give you an insight into what settling into Toronto is like!

It was evident very early on that studying at the University of Toronto would be very different to studying in St Andrews. The University of Toronto has over ten times as many students as the University of St Andrews, which makes campus a lot busier than the streets of St Andrews. However, the University of Toronto has 44 libraries, so there is always somewhere to study! The public transport in Toronto is great too – I use the subway to get to campus every day.

One of my main reasons for applying to study abroad at the University of Toronto was the variety of third year courses in Developmental Psychology. So far, the courses have been great! The professors are super helpful, and are always willing to meet with you to go over things you don’t understand. There is an emphasis on in-class participation, which counts towards my final grade in some of my classes, and I’ve found that this actually helps me absorb the lecture material really well!

One major difference which I have personally found is having mid-term exams, which in most cases contribute the same amount to your grade as the final exam does. While this might sound scary, it’s actually a really effective way of learning, as you are constantly going over the course material. I’ve found that the classes are really well taught, and that the grading is fair, and each class has at least one TA who is there to help if you don’t want to contact the professor. The workload is very intense, due to the frequency of assessment, but you soon get used to it. As long as you manage your time well from week one, it is still absolutely possible to explore Toronto and meet with friends in free time.

Toronto outside of the classroom has been amazing too! The main contact point for inbound exchange students is the Centre for International Experience. They regularly run events which are specifically for exchange students, such as board game afternoons, and dodgeball matches. The events are really well attended and are a great way to make new friends. As well as events, the CIE also provide you with lots of information to help you before your arrival in Toronto and in your first weeks here, from how to get health insurance, to where to look for accommodation. They hold office hours every week to, where you can ask them any questions that you might feel are too strange to ask your professors. For example, you could ask them how to access your assignments online – a question which you may not feel comfortable asking the professor of a third-year class!

All exchange students are welcome to join any societies at the university. I joined one of the orchestras here, which has been really fun and another great way to meet new people outside of exchange student specific events. There is a club fayre in the first week where you can speak to people from all sorts of societies to see what you’d like to do. Additionally, all varsity games are free for University of Toronto students to attend. The atmosphere at these matches is incredible. I went to the men’s ice hockey season opener and got a free T-Shirt for being one of the first 100 people to arrive. There were also games for the audience to participate in during the breaks between thirds – in one such game everyone had a puck and the winner was whoever could throw their puck closest to the centre of the rink!

Outside of university related pastimes, there is so much to do in a city as big and vibrant as Toronto! You can see the CN tower from campus, and the Toronto Islands are a short boat ride away. The Toronto Islands have beaches and even a small fairground. You can also try Beavertails – a popular Canadian treat. Don’t worry though, they aren’t actually the tails of beavers, they are actually a type of pastry. Another must try Canadian food is Poutine. If you’re willing to travel outside of Toronto, Niagara Falls is easily accessible by bus, and is an amazing experience! You can also get to Ottawa and Montreal by train.

You should definitely consider the University of Toronto if you are applying to study abroad – inside and outside the classroom are great!”

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