I’ve switched majors so many times it was necessary for me to take a course this summer to catch up. Since Western’s distance courses didn’t fit my schedule, I opted to study as a visiting student at the University of Toronto.
While hesitant at first, I ended the summer pleased with my course and my experience, despite the pain of studying in the summer.
Initially I was most concerned my international relations class at U of T would involve more course work than a typical course at Western. Many friends had told me I would feel overwhelmed. They were wrong.
I was pleasantly surprised I succeeded in doing a year’s worth of readings in three months.
In fact, it was an added plus using school as an excuse to avoid the errands of nagging parents. Another bonus was my professor, who constantly shared entertaining anecdotes.
Of course, required reading during summer holiday, when you are in a mindset of rest and relaxation, is hardly appealing. Neither is telling your friends you can’t go to the cottage on the weekend because you have to study for an exam.
It was also difficult not knowing where to go or who to talk to when scheduling the class, buying books, or requesting transcripts. In fact, after a summer at U of T, I still don’t know where to retrieve my transcript.
Luckily, I made friends quickly and somewhat oriented myself. I discovered new and interesting places within U of T’s campus – some good and some bad.
Did you know U of T has a building dedicated solely for exam writing? It has no classes during the year. Scary.
I found U of T’s libraries to be the most interesting; though the main library looks like a standard university building, some of the older libraries — Hart House, for example ¬— look like they belong in a scene from Clue — stained-glass windows, fireplaces, large leather armchairs, old table lamps and aging books.
Despite the cozy atmosphere, U of T had its negatives as well, such as the necessary marathon walk between tutorials and class. The campus is spread across Toronto and making it to class meant sprinting from one end of the city to another in ten minutes. I’d rather stick to the five minute walk between the Social Science Centre and anywhere else on Western’s campus.
As much as Western students complain about transit in London, the reality is we do have it better — and cheaper — than other students. In London I live a foot away from the bus stop, which takes me right to the door of my class in less than ten minutes. We also have the luxury of having bus fare included in our tuition. U of T has no transit deal, meaning frequent student-users have to pay about $90 a month to get to and from classes.
Overall, though studying for exams in the summer was a drag, it feels good having a full credit completed and a lightened load ahead.
Doing a course at a different university also makes it feel a little more like you do have a summer break, since the experience of being a visiting student divides the continuous feeling one might have if they stayed on their original campus.
In the end, I would definitely recommend the experience — just remember to pick up your transcript at the end of the summer, or it will have all been for nothing.