Toronto CN Tower view

From Bombay to Toronto: A Newcomer’s Tale

Here’s the tale behind my transcontinental journey to the city of Toronto. This place that I now call home didn’t feel the same on the 6th of September, 2022—the day I landed. Well, the past year has been “oh so wholesome”—sprinkled with serendipity and perseverance, peppered with invaluable lessons and profound experiences.

Throughout this journey, there were moments when I couldn’t help but think, “I wish I knew this earlier.” Today, I aim to encapsulate my myriad experiences and invaluable advice in a series I’m calling “Crossing Borders, Chasing Dreams,” tailored specifically for newcomers to Canada. As I unravel the upcoming chapters of my life, I hope to shed light on what lies on the horizon for me and for all those embarking on similar paths.

Teen Carol would never believe that in a few years, she’d be studying at one of the best colleges in the heart of Toronto. I would never fathom trading the endless summers for a land of perpetual snow. And because I’m super attached to my friends and family back home, the idea of setting foot in a country that’s on the other side of the world seemed straight-up crazy.

Juggling a bustling full-time role as a digital marketing executive in India and crafting compelling freelance content for various brands and businesses, my days were abuzz with creative energy. However, as time wore on, the once exhilarating tasks began to feel mundane. I needed a fresh challenge. I enrolled in a graphic design course. I was glad, but I was hungry for MORE.

Coincidentally, the chatter about students flocking to Canada began to pique my interest. At first, I didn’t pay it much heed. I delved into options for further studies abroad because I realized that I wanted to experience something different, which may be uncomfortable, but something bigger. The UK and Canada emerged as promising contenders. Strangely enough, my heart found solace in the idea of making the move to Canada, despite the lack of familial ties and the daunting prospect of starting afresh.

What spurred this sudden resolve, you ask?

Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure.

But one thing was certain: I was determined to make it happen.

Arrival and
First Impressions

Oh, the wearying journey from Bombay to Toronto—a staggering 26+ hours of travel! Exhausted and barely able to lift my luggage from the conveyor belt, my first major hurdle was to navigate my way out of the airport and find my way to the apartment. I couldn’t book an Uber. But I managed to secure a cab right at the airport.

The driver casually quoted “75 dollars,” and though I had no point of reference, I hesitantly agreed. I gave him my address and was eager to see my new home. As we journeyed through the city, its beautifully lit streets and tall buildings captivated my weary gaze. I couldn’t wait to witness this breathtaking spectacle in the full glory of daylight. Much to my relief, the kind-hearted cab driver ensured my safe arrival and even lent a hand with unloading my baggage.

However, upon reaching my apartment, the realization of my tardiness struck hard as I discovered my roommates fast asleep. Hungry and longing for a familiar taste, I hastily prepared a pack of classic Maggi before retreating to bed.

The memories of that first night and the beginning of this new chapter stir a whirlwind of emotions in me.

first things first

The following morning, armed with determination, I meticulously noted down a list of crucial tasks that demanded my immediate attention.

Topping the list were the three essentials: 

  • setting up a bank account,
  • activating my SIM card,
  • and obtaining a SIN number. 

And I really had to get around to learning the nuances of grocery shopping in this new city. While my roommate offered a quick intro to Toronto’s transit system, the first week found me hopping onto the wrong subway or a streetcar heading in the opposite direction. Toronto’s transit system is pretty easy to navigate. On my first day in Toronto, things got a bit crazy when I realized I had no phone data or network. 

Pro Tip: Get your SIM card activated before you enter the country.

But instead of panicking, I decided to explore the city anyway. It turned out to be a lesson in figuring things out without relying on my phone. Every wrong turn and detour became a part of my learning journey in this new Canadian chapter of my life. It was challenging, but it helped me discover how adaptable and resilient I can be. 

Fall's Canvas to Winter's Chills

Upon arriving in Canada, everyone warned me about the weather, and boy, were they right.

Coming from the heat of Mumbai, I was in for a shock. Luckily, I landed during the MOST beautiful fall season. The city was like a painting, with leaves changing into the most vibrant colors.

But then came the cold. The temperature dropped real quick. Winters in Canada are a whole different level, and the darkness can really get to you. People warned me about feeling low during this time, so I had to come up with my survival guide:

  • I started waking up early, trying to beat the winter blues with some sunlight.
  • Daily vitamins became my thing. Gotta keep the immune system strong against this cold assault.
  • My wardrobe got a serious makeover. LAYER UP to survive the Canadian chill.
  • Regular calls with friends and family became a lifeline. Nothing beats a good chat to lift the spirits.
  • I started keeping a journal. Turns out, putting pen to paper is a good way to deal with the winter funk.

So, that’s how I tackled my first Canadian winter. I’m still learning the ropes, but I’m getting there. 

Winter jacket game: strong.

Torontonians 🍁

Contrary to the stereotype that people in Toronto might be a bit rude compared to generally friendly Canadians, my experience has been quite the opposite. Living downtown, I’ve found myself in some wild situations with not-so-sane individuals, but that’s just a small part of the story. Most people here are warm and welcoming. Smiles are exchanged on the streets, and “have a great day” is a common greeting in the elevator. Even in the midst of the city’s hustle and bustle, TTC employees are kind and ever-ready to help with directions. It’s this distinctive blend of urban energy and genuine courtesy that has made my transition to Toronto surprisingly smooth.

Toronto’s weather, with its breathtaking fall colors and the biting cold of winter, taught me resilience and the importance of self-care. Layering up and embracing the beauty of early mornings became my shield against the winter blues. The city’s warmth, both in its people and unexpected kindness, shattered the stereotypes and made my transition surprisingly smooth.

As I reflect on my journey from Bombay to Toronto, I can’t help but marvel at the transformative adventure it has been. The decision to move, the exhilarating arrival, and the initial challenges were all threads woven into the tapestry of my new Canadian life. From the hustle of setting up bank accounts to navigating the intricacies of Toronto’s transit system, every experience became a stepping stone in this odyssey.

Through “Crossing Borders, Chasing Dreams,” my aim is to share not just the practicalities but the emotions and growth that come with moving to a new country. Each misstep, from the wrong subway to the freezing winters, has been a valuable lesson. 

As I continue to unravel the upcoming chapters of my life in Toronto, I hope this series becomes a guide for newcomers and a testament to the resilience and adaptability we discover within ourselves when chasing our dreams in a foreign land.

Toronto, with its vibrant energy and genuine courtesy, has not only become my home but a canvas for newfound possibilities. From the first night in an unfamiliar apartment to the camaraderie on the streets, this city has etched memories that resonate with warmth and the promise of exciting chapters yet to unfold. So here’s to Toronto—a city that challenges, embraces, and becomes a part of the dreams we dare to chase across borders.

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