University of Toronto: Student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more

Jadine Ngan, 21
Sociology and diaspora & transnational studies

Jadine Ngan (Courtesy of Daniel Li)

Why did you choose U of T?
Location was U of T’s biggest draw. Every day here is an adventure. I was also interested in the flexibility of U of T’s program system. You can really mix and match different interests here. I know someone majoring in both physics and philosophy, and I have a fairly unusual set of programs myself.

Describe some of your best experiences so far.
In fall 2021, I took an upper-year seminar called Translation and Migration. It felt like a book club: there were fewer than 20 students, we shared personal anecdotes about our experiences with language, and the professor was very open with us. I also have fond memories of walking home through Chinatown and stopping by Mashion Bakery on cold winter nights to pick up a pineapple bun or three. Chinatown and Koreatown are both within walking distance of campus.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
Since my first year, I’ve been involved with the Varsity, U of T’s tri-campus student newspaper. I’ve met some of the warmest, most talented people I’ve ever known. Sometimes we stay in the newspaper office until midnight, editing articles and making each other laugh until we can’t breathe.

What do you think of your professors?
I’ve had the privilege of learning from some wildly brilliant academics at U of T. Especially in smaller seminar classes, I’ve found I can get to know my instructors. One professor taught us how to make spring rolls over Zoom and offered to let students borrow toboggans from her house de ella. Not all the professors I’ve had have been particularly good instructors; some are clearly at the institution to conduct research, and not to teach. But the wonderful TAs I’ve had often been able to close that gap.

What do you think of the school’s administration?
The most important thing to know after being admitted to U of T is that you’ll still need to apply again later to major, minor or specialize in any given subject. You’ll spend your first year taking courses to meet program application prerequisites, and then in the spring you can apply to your programs of choice. Some programs will require you to meet a certain grade threshold. This system takes many first-year students by surprise, so you’ll have an edge if you’re prepared for it.

What is off-campus life like in Toronto?
Off-campus life in downtown Toronto is as vibrant as you’d expect. I enjoy visits to the Art Gallery of Ontario—which offers free admission to people under 26—and coffee shops such as Fika or Slanted Door. If you’re into bar-hopping, live music or clubbing, there’s also a lively nightlife scene.

PROFILE: University of Toronto | Toronto, Ont. | Founded 1827

If I wrote the school motto: ‘Boundless’ (as a former fundraising campaign said)
Best place to live: Woodsworth College
Best place to study: Emmanuel College Library
Best campus events: corncoming
Weirdest tradition: corncoming
Best campus food: The Innis Cafe
Best cheap lunch: Galleria—there’s a discount after 3 pm!
best pizza: Papa Ceo Pizza
Best place for a fancy dinner: PianoPiano
best-giveaway: The U of T Bookstore’s Instagram regularly posts giveaways of stationery and merch
Best bar for hanging out: Sneaky Dee’s
Best live music venue: The Velvet Underground
Best hangover breakfast: Future Bistro
Best place for a nap: The red couches in the University College Junior Common Room
Best activity weekend: Exploring the neighborhoods near campus: Kensington Market, the Annex and Chinatown
The thing that surprised me most about the school: How much I love the people I met here
If I could change one thing about the school: The competitive culture that pervades certain programs

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