I’m spending the next four months in Toronto for my coop, and with all the free time I think I’ll have after work, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get to know the city quite a bit. I’ll take this time to write down some of my first impressions.
Toronto is huge. It sounds obvious, but to most anyone else in Canada, it has to be kind of shocking when you see just how large Toronto is. You don’t think of it as such, but Toronto actually is one of the largest cities in North America, competing with the likes of NYC, LA and Mexico City. Coming from Calgary, I almost feel like I’m in a different country. Calgary is quiet compared to Toronto – they’re worlds apart. You feel like you can see all of Calgary in a given amount of time – you don’t get that feeling for Toronto. I feel like I’m back in India what with the noise, crowds, heat and traffic. Also, what exactly is Toronto? No one’s quite sure. The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) seems every bit as Toronto as the more clear cut parts of it, though maybe on a smaller scale. And the night activity! Over here, the city never sleeps. A big change from the comparatively minuscule streets of Calgary. Still, it has a lot going for it, and I’m hoping to get used to it soon.
The weather sucks. I never thought I’d say that coming from Calgary, where the only consistency in the weather is inconsistency, but the weather here is actually awful. Because of the great lakes around Toronto, the moisture becomes a massive factor. When it’s hot, it’s absolutely unbearable. I haven’t thought about it yet, but my next study term in Waterloo during the summer is going to be hotter than hell. On the flipside, when it gets cold here, it gets nasty. In Calgary it gets colder, but it’s not as bad. The wind is worse here, and the moisture just compounds to your misery. And it rains so, so much. Absolutely disgusting.
The traffic sucks more. Surprisingly enough, it has the fourth-most congested traffic in all of North America. And it’s really, really, really really really bad. The driving is super different from Calgary, too. It’s much faster – the unspoken minimum speed on a freeway is 120 km/h. People also drive very unconventionally – again, it takes me back to India. Thank God the transit system seems great, because otherwise given the size of the city and the headache that is the traffic, it’d be impossible to commute.
Korea town much? I’m staying in North York, and I swear, I feel like I’m in Korea. Easily 70% of the restaurants and hair salons and grocery stores and optometry centers and everything else is Korean – and I’m not even in Korea town! I do love Korean food, though, so maybe this is a good thing. With so much free time, maybe learning Korean is how I’ll pass my spare time – I’m already getting kind of bored.
It does appear as though I’m complaining, but we all are pessismists and cynics at heart. Despite my seeming negativity, I’m excited for the next four months. For all its size, Toronto has a lot to be done in – it’s pretty much impossible to sit around bored in my room when I have the whole world outside. So I’ll occupy myself by exploring it. I’ll keep you posted on all of it, and hope you enjoy the trip as much as I hope I do.