With less than a week left in August, it can only mean one thing, it’s almost time to head back to school.
And whether you’re entering your first or last year of uni, Toronto is an awesome city to be a student in.
But as a new student in Toronto, there are a few things you should know before you come to light it up in The Big Smoke.
Here are 17 of the important ones…
1. It’s pronounced ‘Tronno’ not ‘Tor-on-Toe’
First things first, there’s no bigger way to stand out to your classmates and scream you’re not from here than butchering our fair city’s name and overemphasizing the T’s and calling it “Tor-on-Toe.” As any local will tell you, the true pronunciation involves letting the letters roll off your tongue, ending up with something akin to ‘Tronno,’ or ‘Turrono.’
2. You’ll quickly become a loyal sports fan…even if you don’t like sports
Torontonians are pretty spoiled when it comes to professional sports teams. Not only are we home to the Maple Leafs (NHL), Raptors (NBA) and the Blue Jays (MLB), we’re also home to the Argonauts (CFL), Toronto FC (MLS), Toronto Marlies (AHL), Toronto Wolfpack (RLFC), and the Toronto Rock (NLL). So regardless of what sport you fancy, there’s a team for you to cheer for.
3. Public transportation 101
Whether you’re heading to class or to the bar, public transportation is definitely the most cost-effective way to get around in Toronto. Single-ride tickets for the subway, streetcar and public buses will cost you $3.25.
4. If you’re into culture, you’re in luck
If you like getting your culture fix, you’re definitely moving to the right city. Toronto is home to many museums and galleries. Some of the most notable are the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Bata Shoe Museum, the Aga Khan Museum and there’s even the Hockey Hall of Fame if history and art aren’t your jam.
5. Our mascot is not a blue jay, a maple leaf, and it’s definitely not a rubber duck. It’s a Jewish rapper named Drake
From Toronto’s fashion and music scenes to our sports and nightlife, even when he’s on his “Worst Behavior,” he’s still helping to put this city on the map in a positive way. You may not dig the guy’s music, but as an appreciative Torontonian whose always repping his hometown, it’s hard not to have “Hotline Bling” stuck in your head.
6. But in all seriousness, this four-legged furball is actually our city’s unofficial mascot and don’t you forget it
Love them or hate them, raccoons are actually the city’s unofficial mascot. In the past, Toronto’s curious trash pandas have been spotted causing delays on the subway, cruising the self-checkout aisle at a local Shoppers Drug Mart, living in a local bank, climbing up a crane, and even influencing some pretty awesome Halloween costumes.
7. There are tons of super-cool neighbourhoods, and you should check out all of them
One of the most exciting and entertaining things about Toronto is its extensive spectrum of ‘hoods. From the culture-coated areas like Little Portugal, Little Italy, Little India and Greektown, to the social-sexy scenes of Queen West, King West, Ossington, Yorkville and Riverside, you need to make a habit of exploring.
8. If you love having your day ruined by construction, you will LOVE this city
And by “your day,” we mean “every day.” It doesn’t help that our commuting time is already some of the worst in North America. #OneLaneIsTheNewThreeLanes
9. Last call is 2 am
Toronto might be home to a killer nightlife, but sadly, all our bars and nightclubs shutter down at 2 am and last call typically happens 15 minutes prior. Some spots are a bit more lenient in terms of when you actually have to go but don’t become the person that gets banned after your first visit.
10. TIFF is awesome
Whether it’s the movies, celeb sightings, patios, parties, 4 am last calls… or just the raw human energy and excitement pulsing across the city — if you have a soul, there is something you can love about TIFF. Happening from September 6 to 16 this year, put it in the calendar and make the most of it.
11. It gets cold AF
When people say Toronto only has two seasons, they’re not kidding. Come mid-October, temperatures drop and we enter a seemingly never-ending season of winter that typically lasts until the start of May. Once you get settled in your dorm, or wherever you plan on living, you might as well stock up on gloves, toques, and a pair of waterproof snow boots and a down jacket, because you can never be too prepared for those days when it feels like -38°C with the windchill.
12. Summers in Toronto are top-notch
But on the flipside, nothing compares to summer in Toronto. From countless hiking trails and miles of sandy beaches to the epic patio options, outdoor concerts and food and drink festivals, Torontonians know how to summer. Not to mention you can take the ferry and spend the afternoon on the island or pack up a car and head to cottage country for an epic weekend getaway.
13. It’s a city that celebrates language and culture
If one thing’s for certain, Toronto is one of the most welcoming cities you’ll ever visit. Not only is Toronto the most linguistically diverse city in Canada, it’s one of the most diverse in the world and approximately 200 different languages are spoken here.
14. You can find cheap eats almost everywhere (you just need to know where to look)
When living on a student budget, it’s imperative to find affordable food options, because that way you’ll have more money for beer. (Just kidding, but not really). Luckily for students, not only is Toronto a legit foodie fantasy, if you know where to go, it’s not terribly expensive. While most places aren’t going to necessarily be ‘cheap,’ if you take some time to look around a bit, the quality for the price is very reasonable for a big city. Not sure where to begin your cheap foodie adventures? You can get started by checking out our lists of cheap and free (yes, you read that correctly) food options in the city here.
15. There are plenty of ways to get around
If you’re not in the mood to walk, ride your bike or transit to class, you can also take Uber or Lyft. Just make sure to always watch for surge pricing so you don’t end up with an $18,000 bill like this guy.
16. Toronto universities are some of the best in the world, seriously
If you’re moving here for school, you already know that the post-secondary options are some of the best in the country. Not only was Toronto recognized for being one of the most desirable cities in the world for students, our universities are constantly praised for being some of the best in Canada and the world, which gives you instant bragging rights at homecoming.
17. But, Toronto’s also one of the world’s best places to live in for, like, everything
In 2018 alone, Toronto has already been ranked as one of the ‘most liveable cities in the world,”best cities in the world for long-term success,’ ‘fastest-growing technology innovation hubs in the world,’ ‘best city in North America for quality of living,’ and ‘best cities in the world to be a millennial‘ to name a few. So who do we love? Say it with us…
With files from Benjamin Mann.