Life in Tkaronto/Toronto so far…

...according to Queen Mary Geography student and Turing Scheme grant recipient, Kristina Jacobs who is currently studying abroad at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Hello from Tkaronto/Toronto! Did you know that the name ‘Toronto’ comes from the Mohawk word ‘Tkaronto’ which loosely translates to the place where there are trees in the water? I learnt this in one of my classes last semester, and I’ll be using it alongside Toronto as I talk you through some of my favourite moments abroad so far!

That time when the wind stole my mini cheesecake doughnuts…
Winter is usually never exciting to me, but that has been quite different here in Canada! There is so much to do during winter like ice skating, snow tubing, tobogganing, etc. One of my favourite things I’ve done this winter is go to the Distillery Winter Village. I think it was particularly special because I couldn’t go home for Christmas, due to Omicron, so I really struggled to get in the Christmas mood. However, going to places such as the Distillery Winter Village really helped with that. It was my first time at a Christmas market, and it was so nice! There was a massive Christmas tree and so many beautiful lights. There were also a bunch of cool stalls selling things like tree ornaments, hot chocolate, and warm desserts. I got the yummiest cheesecake doughnuts from this stall, but sadly the wind blew them away before I could finish them (still heartbroken to this day). Another thing about winter here that is really cool is the snow! It snows so often and heavily here, and I love it! We had a snowstorm a couple of weeks ago and the snow has only just started to leave! Although I must say, whilst the winter activities and snow is great, the minus-degree weather definitely is not! But I guess that’s what makes this experience so memorable, right?

Visiting meaningful art exhibitions…
Tkaronto/Toronto is a great place for art lovers! From galleries to murals to illustration posters dotted around the city, there is something for everyone! I have been particularly into seeking out the works of Indigenous artists which is something very meaningful to me! When I was coming to Canada to study abroad, one thing that was really important to me was learning about Indigenous histories, cultures, worldviews, etc. One way I have done this is by visiting art exhibitions showcasing Indigenous art and stories. I recently went down to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to visit an exhibition called ‘Red is Beautiful’ by Robert Houle who is a Saulteaux Anishinaabe artist. It was such a meaningful experience. Whilst I visited the exhibition, I found myself learning new things but also revisiting what I have been taught in many of my classes. One of the amazing things about studying abroad is the opportunity to learn about things that are both beyond your discipline and unique to the country you are in. I have the opportunity to learn about the historic and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples and it has been my favourite part of this whole experience. Learning from Indigenous scholars first-hand and listening to their stories has transformed how I see the world and is an opportunity I will cherish forever. Check out some of the other art I’ve seen below (mural by Philip Cote, picotage by Paul Anthony Smith, immersive display by Monet, photography by Jorian Charlton, and poster by Adam the Illustrator)

Finding a Ridley Road Market alternative…
When I first arrived abroad, a big challenge for me was not having access to my favourite shops/markets that I have back in the UK. One of these is Ridley Road Market in Dalston! I am from the Caribbean, and we get a lot of our food from Ridley Road Market! So, when I came to Tkaronto/Toronto, I was desperately missing the Caribbean food I eat back home and had to quickly find somewhere where I could get my food! I stumbled upon this small grocery store called ‘Caribbean Corner’ located in Kensington Market, about a 20-minute walk away from me (picture was taken with owner’s permission). When I arrived, it felt like home: they had scotch bonnets, plantain, hardough bread, my favourite
seasonings, the list goes on! It was a truly emotional experience to finally find a place in Tkaronto/Toronto where I can buy these things. The owners are also super lovely and helpful. It’s one of my favourite places in Tkaronto/Toronto! It’s the little things like this that have made my study abroad experience super special so far, finding hidden gems in the city and really adapting to life in a new place. It’s a highly valuable and special experience that I recommend so much!

Looking forward to summer in Canada thanks to the Turing Scheme…
What’s exciting for me is that my experience here isn’t over yet and the best is yet to come! I am planning to stay in Canada for the summer and I am very excited! For the first time in forever, I have many things planned and I hope to do as much as I can. I love hiking, so I’m excited to hike in some national parks this summer whilst getting to see the mountains and lakes! Maybe I’ll also head to a sports game, go to some beaches, or check out some restaurants. One of the reasons I’ve been able to manage so far, explore the city freely, and make all these plans for the summer is because of financial aid like Turing funding! The Turing Scheme is great because it helps you with necessities like food, rent, transport, whilst also allowing you to really go out there and have amazing experiences! If you do plan on studying abroad, I highly recommend applying for any grants available to you! They will really help you to enjoy your time
abroad as much as you can so that it can be a truly unforgettable experience!

Thank you so much for reading! 🙂


One thought on “Life in Tkaronto/Toronto so far…

  1. ourcrossings says:

    Great post and so many wonderful photos. I’ve never been to Toronto, but always wanted to visit as it looks like an amazing city to explore and photograph 🤗 thanks for sharing and have a good day ☺️ Aiva


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