Like many other first year students, this summer I answered the beck and call of free rent, home cooked meals, and a steady job back in my home town. Living just in the GTA, I didn’t think that moving back home would be too much of a change. I figured that I’d be able to come back into the city at least a couple times a week, spend some time with friends, get some inspiration for blog posts, and hopefully go about the next 4 months in the city as if I had never left.
Home wasn’t looking so bad at first
Yet somewhere between 40 hour work weeks, seeing friends from home, and other essential activities like sleeping, eating, and watching every episode of Orange is the New Black, I haven’t managed to get into the city as much as I’d hoped. And while at first I was still caught up in the bliss of being back at home, almost half of my summer is gone and I’m staring to getting city cravings.
- I miss being able to step out my front door and be in the heart of downtown.
- I miss exploring new restaurants and shops, or enjoying old favourites.
- I even find myself missing Robarts library… (well maybe not the library itself so much as the view).
The iconic view from the 12th Floor of Robarts – St. George Corner
So while I could go on for hours listing all the things I miss about the city, it doesn’t do anything to make lists and say things. We have to start doing things. So here goes… My Top 5 Tips for Surviving the Summer Outside the City!
1. Make it a Trip – Nothing gets you through the work week like having something to look forward to. So set a date, time, and location, and make your weekend plans official. So much of our time is spent talking about what we want to do, and not enough actually doing it. When you make plans and put them in your calendar, it’s like booking a mini vacation. We have something to work towards the rest of the week, and it ensures that we actually follow through with our plans.
2. Attend Free Events – Traveling into the city can be expensive enough. Between transit costs, meals, and even taking time off work, the last thing you need to do when you’re in the city is spend more money on doing activities. There are tonnes of free events that happen in the city every week, you just need to seek them out. Two of my favourites? The Trinity Bellwoods Blockparty and the FREE outdoor movie screenings in Queens Que.
3. Get a Presto Pass – So many of the times I’ve ditched friends or never followed through with plans was because I didn’t feel like spending money on transit. Getting a Presto Pass changed this for me. Although it’s still spending money, it doesn’t feel like it because you pre-load it and then just swipe on and off. It takes away the conscious feeling of having to go to the teller and pay. It’s also actually cheaper – so that’s always nice too!
My other commuting essentials include; an on-the-go phone charger, water, comfortable shoes to change into, something to read or listen to music on, earphones, and a coin purse for TTC change
4. Stay Educated – Whether you’re in Hamilton or Hong Kong, sometimes it’s just not possible to make it into the city. However that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stay informed. Track #UofT on twitter, follow some of the main Toronto blogs, and just keep yourself updated about what’s going on in the city. Not only will it keep you feeling like you never left, but as September 1st approaches, it’ll also get you even more excited about coming back.
5. Explore Your Own Area – Finally, don’t neglect your own neighbourhood. While I’ve still yet to find a place that serves fried cheesecake, like Hey Lucy on Bloor, I’ve definitely found some cool new places in my hometown. For all the days that you can’t come into the city, which will always be more than we’d all like, don’t forget to explore the cool places that could be just around your block.
The artery-clogging, deep-fried, best-thing-you’ll-ever-eat, cheese cake from Hey Lucy on Bloor
So that’s how I’m attempting to cope with my Toronto withdrawal. It’s hard, and sometimes I think I’m just going to pack my suitcase and move back, but I know that I made this decision for a reason – and it was a good reason at that. Coming home this summer was the stepping stone that I needed, to prepare myself mentally, emotionally, and most importantly financially, for next year. On top of which, commuting in and out of the city has made me develop a stronger admiration for it and all the amazing opportunities that it offers.
So U of T, are you spending your summer in the city? If you’re not, how are you coping? And if you are, what are some things I should check out next time I’m in town?