‘It’s a little tough to move around’: South Asian students describe life in Toronto

Published On January 19, 2018 | By Jacob Phillips | Features

Humber College hosts more than 3,000 international students each year between its three campuses. (Tyson Lautenschlager)

By: Bhakti Parikh

How does it feel moving to a country where the temperature drops to more than 60 degrees lower than you’re used to?

Cold truths: ‘If there’s a blizzard coming in … the roads get really bad’

Hrim Shah, a student from India, is experiencing his first winter in Toronto.

He just started his marketing program in 2018.

“Coming from a tropical country after 24 hours of journey, I was very excited for the snow,” Shah said, recalling the day he landed in Toronto.

He’s learned that cold weather also has its downsides.

“If there’s a blizzard coming in, you can’t afford to go out because it will be too cold and the roads get really bad,” Shah said.

Open Arms: ‘One similarity between Canada and India is how considerate people are’

The most exciting thing about a new country is the cultural shift.

Shah said people here are different.

The way they meet, the way they greet and the way they behave is all very different from India. But not everything is different according to fellow Indian student, Rucha Pandya.

Rucha Pandya is another student from India experiencing a Canadian winter for the first time. (Contributed)

“One similarity between Canada and India is how considerate people are when I came here, I did not know how I would adjust or would I be accepted as an immigrant. It was scary but turned out pretty well,” Pandya, an international development program student at George Brown College, said.

“People not only welcomed me with open arms but they were always very warm to help me settle down,” she said.

Great Food: ‘It feels like you’re in a carnival’

The food culture of Toronto is very diverse as the people here are very open to trying and adapting different tastes.

Hrim Shah getting a taste of poutine, a Canadian delicacy. (Bhakti Parikh)

“It feels like you’re in a carnival, you find everything in one city, the food is the best part of moving to another country. I am a foodie, I love trying and exploring new cuisines,” Shah said.

“Toronto is very diverse, especially when it comes to food, you literally find everything here. From Indian, Korean, Pho, Chinese, Italian to Middle Eastern cuisines. I am in love with this place,” he said.

A change of pace: ‘it’s a journey that demands giving up on my comfort zone’

Varun Bhatt, a Sri Lankan psychology student at Ryerson University, said there were some major changes to adapt to when coming to Toronto.

“From water to toilet paper, from car to TTC and from having my own room to living with a roommate, it’s a journey that demands giving up on my comfort zone,” Bhatt said.

“Canadians are very friendly and everything is organized.”

Pandya said it has been a big adjustment moving to Toronto, though.

“The worst part for me is the pace of the city,” she said. “Coming from India where I used to live in a big city that’s as diverse as Toronto, the pace is faster.

“Toronto sometimes slows you down because of the transit, the cold and as a newcomer still trying to get used to the city, it’s a little tough to move around. India because of its population can’t afford to be slow. It’s crazy and chaotic but it’s something I’m used to,” Pandya said.

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