At some point in your life, you’ll be required to move.
Whether it’s from one house to the next, or from town to town, eventually you’re going to say sayonara to your childhood home.
Well, I picked the big move, heading east to the other side of the country from Vancouver to Toronto.
I was thrilled to make this transition and eagerly counted down the days until my big move. But in the whirlwind of packing and saying goodbyes, I didn’t once take a moment to actually absorb that I was moving to a city where I knew no one. Not to mention, all I really knew about the city itself was where the CN Tower stood.
From my arrival, and up until now (four years later), I have learned a lot about this great city that I now call home.
So for anyone making the move, please learn from my mistakes.
If you live in Toronto, you first need to know how to pronounce Toronto. I stepped off of my flight and immediately had a tourist bullseye on my back. I was harshly enunciating every T, sounding more robotic than human. The name needs to roll of the tongue like “Turonno.” If you thought this is bad, you should have heard me say Etobicoke.
Upon arrival I assumed transit in Toronto would be very similar to transit in Vancouver. I lived in a safe bubble where all transit took place above ground, so when there was a delay you knew exactly what caused it. In Toronto you have to first learn how to navigate the subway, where delays are more common than rain in Vancouver. Next you need to figure out how the streetcars and busses work. But practice makes perfect, and over time it will feel like a breeze to navigate the city.
What’s With the Milk?
To this day I still don’t understand the concept of drinking milk out of a plastic bag. I guess I am just so used to pouring my milk out of a plastic container or a carton. But I know I am not the only one who is weirded out by this.
There’s a Thing Called Street Meat and You’re Going to Love it
Back in Vancouver, when you would stumble out of a bar chances are you would make your way to the nearest McDonald’s or nearby pizza spot. So when I first went out in Toronto and my friend said we we’re going to eat street meat, I figured we would be eating old meat and was completely uninterested. Little did I know that this outdoor food snack would be my favourite form of post-bar nourishment for years to come.
Somehow Everyone Knows Drake
I had never listened to Drake’s music before, let alone heard of the guy. But I soon realized his music plays literally everywhere, so I had to give it a shot. It also turns out that six degrees of separation is a thing in Toronto and everyone that listens to Drake’s music also feels like they know him somehow. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they know a guy who knows a guy who Drake rapped about, I would be a rich woman. Maybe I just need to hang out with new friends…
You’ll Develop a Big City Attitude
I quickly learned that if you wan’t anything in Toronto, you have to fight for it. And by anything, I mean getting a seat on the subway or hailing a cab. You can’t be scared to sit down before someone else does on your morning commute. Or if it’s freezing and you need a cab, you do whatever it takes to get one.
The PATH is Not What You Expect
When I first saw the sign for the PATH, I assumed it was an outdoor walkway or a shortcut between buildings. I wasn’t expecting it to be an intricate network of tunnels that I was going to get seriously lost in. Four years later and I still get lost.
Toronto weather will consume a portion of your life. It will become a serious conversation topic, the reason you’re late for class, or the dictator for how you dress each morning. When I moved here I was so used to mild weather that I was totally unprepared; my peacoat and umbrella weren’t going to cut it here. But over time you become accustomed to the unpredictable weather and you think it’s totally normal for it to be -20 one weekend and 10 degrees the next.
There’s Always Something to Do
In Toronto there’s never a shortage of things to do. There are always new art shows, exhibits, festivals, and pop-ups taking place throughout the city on any given night. Or if nothing catches your attention, you can always find a spot to drink.
This City Loves Sports
Watching a major sports game in Toronto is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. You can tell that the players enjoy playing here and the fans truly love supporting their teams. There’s nothing like watching a Leafs or Raptors game outside on a giant screen surrounded by thousands of excited fans. And even if a Toronto team plays bad, the fans never stop showing their support. Unlike Vancouver fans… we all know what happens when they don’t play well.
People Assume Things About You
Upon moving here, I realized that living in Vancouver had a certain stigma that came with it. People automatically assumed I smoked weed and knew where to get the best B.C. bud. Everyone also assumed I was seriously into yoga and that I was basically a hippie. I disappointed many people when I revealed that was not the case.