Student Insider
by Jadine Ngan
October 31, 2022

University of Toronto: Student life on campus

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

Jadine Ngan (Courtesy of Daniel Li)

Jadine Ngan, 21: Sociology and diaspora & transnational studies

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. 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 have 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.

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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 Café

Best cheap lunch: Galleria—there’s a discount after 3 p.m.!

Best pizza: Papa Ceo Pizza

Best place for a fancy dinner: Piano Piano

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 weekend activity: Exploring the neighbourhoods 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