Need to Know
Here you’ll find a summary of everything you need to know to start your student life at HOEM. From city facts to local culture, and all the essential things you’ll need-to-know to make your HOEM away from home the most enjoyable and beneficial.
With a population of 2.6 million people, Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. It is also a clean, green city with a strong commitment to the environment. It is a very livable city: services, shops, nightlife, arts and culture are within walking distance or an easy commute away, serviced by an efficient public transportation system that connects you to all corners of the city.
Open a Bank Account
Banking in Canada using a debit card from your home country is usually hassle-free, with most ATMs in Toronto connected to the PLUS, Interac, Cirrus or Maestro networks. But foreign transaction fees can start to add up, so it may be worth it to open a bank account in Toronto. There are six major financial institutions near Ryerson, with varying hours but all have 24-hour access ATMs. To open a bank account, you will need your passport and Ryerson student ID (or Study Permit document if your ID has not been issued yet). Some banks offer student accounts and packages, so research all options to find the financial institution that is best for you. For more information, check out Ryerson’s International Student Support page: Financial Matters.
Ontario has three major mobile phone providers: Rogers, Bell and Telus, all with retail outlets close to the Ryerson campus. All the majors have budget-friendly (read: student-friendly) brands like Koodo, Freedom and Fido that are worth checking out. Do some advance research online and see which plan suits your needs, or if you want to shop all three providers in one trip, visit the Toronto Eaton Centre. A year long (or more!) plan is the best option because pay-as-you- go is expensive in Canada.
Navigate the City
Toronto’s public transit system is called the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) and it includes underground subways, rapid transit (RT), streetcars and buses. The TTC website has route maps and a trip planner to help you find the most efficient route from one location to another. The regular cash fare is $3.25 for adults and exact change is required on buses and streetcars or you can pay with a Presto Card. Ryerson students are eligible for the RSU (Ryerson Student Union) Discount TTC Metropass. You can buy this a month at a time – no need to sign up for a full year. RSU’s Discount TTC Pass is sold on campus at the RSU Member Services office (SCC Building). For more information: visit http://www.rsuonline.ca. Toronto is also very walkable: the HOEM neighbourhood received a walk score of 98, so all the practical things you need – from groceries to coffee to ATMs – are close by. Other options include Bixi bike share, Uber, taxis and GO Transit or Greyhound buses if you are heading out of the city.
Relatives coming to visit?
Toronto has two major airports – Pearson International Airport, about a 45-minute drive west of Toronto, and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, on the Toronto Islands, south-west of downtown Toronto. Both airports are connected to public transportation or taxis. Additionally, Pearson International Airport is served by the UP Express (Union Pearson Express), a direct train between Pearson and Toronto Union Station. There are tonnes of great hotels close by that are easy to find online.
All registered full-time international students at Ryerson who hold a valid study permit are required to be enrolled in the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), a mandatory province-wide private insurance plan. UHIP coverage is valid for a twelve-month period, running from September 1 to August 31 of each academic year. Services covered by UHIP include hospital and physician services, x-rays and annual exams. For complete information, visit Ryerson’s International Student Support site. In addition to the on-campus health resources available to all Ryerson students, HOEM is close to major medical centres and clinics including St Michael’s Hospital (only a six-minute walk away) and Cloud Care Walk-in Clinic (a seven-minute walk away).
What to do?
Located in friendly, accessible and diverse Toronto (the fourth largest city in North America), the HOEM neighbourhood is just steps away from the vibrant culture of Toronto: the nightlife, the arts, music, theatre, amazing food and shopping. Check out the City of Toronto’s visitor site for a great overview of all that the city has to offer.
As a large, vibrant multicultural city, Toronto is home to some of the best restaurants in North America, featuring cuisine from all over the world — from upscale dining to cheap eats, you’ll find something delicious, with a number of restaurants close to HOEM or a very short ride away. Check out the different neighbourhoods in Toronto including Chinatown, Greektown, Kensington Market, Little Italy, Little India and more.
There are also great shops close to HOEM including Metro and Daily Fresh Supermarket, where you can pick up supplies to make meals in your in-suite kitchen.
Toronto is home to professional sports teams including the Raptors (basketball), Toronto FC (football/soccer) the Blue Jays (baseball) and the Maple Leafs (hockey). Toronto also welcomes some of the biggest stars in music and great independent bands, with a number of concert venues and clubs throughout the city. HOEM is in the heart of downtown Toronto, close to the entertainment district, where you can take in theatre and musicals.
Even though Toronto is a large urban centre, it also boasts vast stretches of natural beauty, with an extensive parks and recreation system where you can get out and walk, hike and explore.