Harisa Ashraf, 2014-2015 at University of Toronto, Mississauga Campus

Top 10 things

1. Proximity to Niagara Falls

A real advantage of UTM’s location is that, as well as being close to downtown, it is also closer to Canada’s best known landmark, Niagara Falls. Its proximity to the falls means that there are frequent trips there organised by societies.

2. Free shuttle to Toronto

One of the most useful campus facilities at UTM is the free shuttle which links it to Downtown Toronto. The fact that there’s one every 20 minutes means that transportation to the city really isn’t a problem and students can enjoy the benefits of the city just as much as those located at the central St George campus.

3. Eating out

Due to its amazing ethnic diversity, the food in Toronto is amazing. The sushi located on Spadina is among the best quality and value I’ve ever had. Kensington Market is rich in tacos and burritos. If its Korean food you prefer, Toronto’s Korea town has the best do-it-yourself meat barbeques you will ever try. For the full Canadian experience, there’s poutine (Canada’s national food – chips with gravy and cheesecurds) located virtually on every street. And the bubble tea / frozen yogurt opportunities are endless. If you like food you’ll love Toronto.

4. The wildlife

The University of Toronto Mississauga is located on the outskirts of the city, in relative isolation. Its scenery is breathtaking covered in snow and in sunshine, and makes a nice change to bustling London. The deer that wonder around the campus are also a novelty I don’t think I’ll ever get over.

5. Proximity to New York

UTMs proximity to New York is one of its standout features. It may be an 8 hour coach journey, but in Canadian terms that positively close. The cheapness of the coach journeys means it’s an opportunity really worth taking advantage of.

6. Quality of accommodation

In stark contrast to London accomidation, student residences at UTM are modern, spacious and great value for money. The advantage of it being a Campus University means your walk to class will never be more than 10 minutes, something even the centrally located St George Campus can’t boast. You’ll never have to top up your oyster card again and theres even on campus catering included in all residences.

7. Snow / skiing

Although the weather in Toronto can leave a lot to be desired, one perk is the constant supply of snow in the winter months – resulting in an extended ski season. For beginners or weekend trips, Blue Mountain is located just over an hour away and home to many different slopes. If you’re after more challenge and variety, Mont Tremblant, located in Quebec, is one of the largest ski resorts in North America and just over 7 hours away. The ski society does an annual trip there in reading week, which was personally the highlight of my entire study abroad experience. Quebec is beautiful and the traditional French-Canadian village and couldn’t be more different to Toronto’s modern architecture.

8. You will never complain about the weather in London again

No amount of warning could prepare me for how cold Toronto can get in the winter. Despite being equiped with a North Face Arctic Parka, the constant snow and temperatures of around -20 c meant that I will never complain about the weather in London again. Also the summers are far warmer than England so if you’re studying abroad over the course of a year you’ll be able to experience both extremes.

9. Living on a campus

UTM couldn’t contrast more greatly with King’s in its campus layout. It makes a really nice change to be able to get out of bed 10 minutes before your lecture. The canteen, library and lecture halls are all closely dispersed throughout the campus meaning none of your time will be wasted commuting. Also there’s a Starbucks on campus, which was a personal highlight for me.

10. Teaching

The style of teaching couldn’t be more different to what I was used to but even so, its nice to experience a whole new way of being taught. The types of assignments you’ll be expected to do are also quite different to King’s but it can be quite refreshing to study in a completely different way. In a sense it stretches you to do things you aren’t used to or necessarily comfortable with but that’s part of the joy of studying abroad!


One of the best things about studying at the University of Toronto Mississauga has to be the accommodation. Unlike the St George and Scarborough campuses, students are guaranteed housing, which alleviates the stress of having to search for housing yourself. Additionally, the housing at UTM is of a far better standard than any type of student housing you’ll have experienced in London. Its much cheaper, spacious, modern and has the most picturesque views in winter time.

Students are given the opportunity to rank their top choices for housing shortly before arriving. The choices are Erindale, Oscar Peterson, Roy Ivor, Schrieberwood residences and McGrath residences. I would recommend researching all 5 options on the universities website as it is a decision which will greatly impact your study abroad experience.

Erindale is primarily for first years so you’re unlikely to get it, which is a shame due to the fact that it’s modern and also the fact that it’s set up in halls, so is probably the most social.

I would personally recommend putting Oscar Peterson halls first because not only are they social, but due to the proximity of the canteen. Having to walk outdoors even for one minute can be a massive struggle in freezing Toronto so the luxury of having a canteen downstairs can’t be overstated.

I was situated in Roy Ivor, which is divided into apartments of four. The advantage of Roy Ivor is that the living space is much bigger than average. Each apartment comes with 4 bedrooms of a larger than average size, 2 bathrooms, a living area and a small kitchen. Having said that, all students are required to purchase a meal plan so the kitchen isn’t a necessity. Whats more, Roy Ivor has a tendency to be hard to socialise in, as there is little interaction between the individual apartments.

Schrieberwood and McGrath residences are both for upper year students and are individual houses, which are slightly isolated from the upper residences. Unless you like your own space, I would personally not recommend selecting these as your first choices as they’re normally for upper year students who have to work on their dissertations.


There can be no doubt that there are significant differences between studying at UTM and Kings. While the same amount of work and effort is expected from both, assessment at UTM is far more widely dispersed throughout the term. Additionally classes can often take a different format, with more emphasis being put on lectures rather than seminars.

As a History student, most of my classes consist of 2 hour lectures in Toronto, with less seminars than at Kings. Nevertheless, this varies between subjects with many classes having tutorials and practicals. The standard sizes of my classes were also a lot bigger with lecture theaters on average holding over 100 students at a time. Participation is encouraged in lectures and students are often given time to ask questions or voice concerns.

As well as this there are several differences in terms of timetables. Many classes can finish as late as 10pm and the on campus library is therefore open till very late to cater for this. The UTM library is extensive, with a wider selection of books and even its very own Starbucks. If you’re after a wider selection, Downtown Toronto’s St George Campus is home to one of the largest libraries in the world.

One of the biggest differences between North American universities and British ones is in terms of assessment. Exams and essays are set far more frequently than you’ll be used to which means a consistent level of work is needed. Assessment does vary between courses but many will have several essays due that can also take the form of research papers and reviews. As well as this, classes also have midterm exams as well as a final end of term exam. This is beneficial in that it means the pressure is taken off the final exam, although it does require consistent work throughout the year.

There is also a different approach to teaching. All students are required to purchase often an extensive range of textbooks, which can often be quite expensive. As a study abroad student I would suggest talking to your lecturers about this and finding out if you could possibly borrow the books instead of purchasing them all. Many lecturers are happy to accommodate this request and there are often rental schemes which you can participate in. There is much emphasis on these texts throughout teaching, so getting hold of them is vital. Often exams are based solely on these textbooks and lecture notes. As a History student this teaching style contrasted to what I was used to as there was less emphasis on historiography, and more concern over specific events and dates.

Nevertheless, adjusting to a new form of teaching and assessment is one of the things which makes studying abroad so unique. It takes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you. It allows you to experience a completely different teaching and learning approach to your subject and therefore is one of the most useful parts of your experience!

Weekend Activities

Unlike the University of Toronto’s St George Campus, the Mississauga Campus is located slightly on the outskirts of the city. The benefits of this are twofold. Students have the luxury of being able to use the free shuttle service to enter town at their convenience, yet are also living in a campus environment without the hustle and bustle of the city.

There’s a lot to do in central Toronto and thanks to the free shuttle service, students at UTM don’t miss out on any of this. The shuttle is included in your fees and comes every 20 minutes or so, so I would highly recommend taking advantage of it as much as possible and exploring the city. Toronto is a vibrant place and there’s lots to do. Everyone has to visit the CN tower, if only for the amazing view it gives of the city. I would recommend going just before sunset, because you are able to see Toronto’s amazing skyline during the day and also at night. The CN tower also is home to the most amazing rotating restaurant so a 360 degree view of the city can be enjoyed whilst enjoying a lovely meal.

Toronto is also home to many markets such as Kensington and Lawrence market. China Town, located on Spadina Avenue, has the best quality and value for money sushi I have ever tried and the shopping on Queen Street West is always worth a visit. For fans of malls, the cities Eaton centre is also incredibly popular. Toronto is also home to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and the Art Gallery of Ontario which has really fun late viewing parties on the first Thursday of every month.

Another advantage of being located at UTM as opposed to downtown is that it’s closer to Niagara Falls. A visit to Niagara Falls is a must on any study abroad student’s agenda. Visiting in April when the weather is a bit warmer is always a good idea as they have a boat, which takes you right underneath the falls.

One of the things I can’t gloss over about Toronto is that it’s freezing. But then an advantage of that is that, unlike England, there’s normally a fresh supply of snow. For skiers/snowboarders, it’s easy to go to Blue Mountain, located just over an hour away from Toronto, for a day or weekend of skiing. The universities skiing and snowboard society arrange trips there every Saturday which shouldn’t be missed.

And lastly, perhaps the best thing about studying abroad in Toronto is it relative proximity to New York City. Coach trips with greyhound are very affordable and any long weekend you have can be spent in the city that never sleeps. New York is an absolute must for anyone studying at UTM and I couldn’t recommend spending any free weekends you have there highly enough.

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