I can’t believe I’m here. I’ve left UTSC in Scarborough and am now living in downtown Toronto for the next 2 months to really explore the city lifestyle on a daily basis. To think that I’ve survived this far sometimes seems like the impossible considering sometimes I can’t even keep the toothpaste on the top of my toothbrush between placing the paste onto the bristles and bringing it to my mouth. Yes. It happens. More often than not. Let’s move past it.

4 months. I haven’t just survived in a completely new surrounding with different lifestyles and people, I really feel that I’ve been able to thrive and find new sides to myself that I hadn’t realised we part of me up until now. There are many things that I’ve realised since I’ve been here with many lessons learnt, all having their own effects on my life.

Enjoy the little things, and realise that work sometimes isn’t everything.

Back at university in Stirling, I have a very hard driven character, spending large sessions in the library revising material I wouldn’t need to regurgitate until months later – I’m a grafter. Whilst being here I still have the same mentality, you get out of life what you put into it and I still follow that philosophy. However, I’ve been able to appreciate that sometimes, to be able to really live you have to be able to enjoy life’s small breaks when they come. Going out with friends to a new destination, whether it’s a thoroughly planned holiday away or it’s going to a new restaurant or bar – making time for people, especially friends and family, is equally important as making time to work/study. Being in Toronto with the wonderful people I’ve met here has made me realise that sometimes, study isn’t always the number one priority.

Embrace the unknown, and don’t be scared of it.

There are many things I’ve done here that I’ve never thought I’d do ever, walk on a frozen lake and not get hypothermia from me being the one unlucky sod that fell in. Being able to travel to destinations like Montreal and New York that would’ve been a dream a year ago that I would even be this side of the Atlantic. Develop new sides to my being that hadn’t emerged of even existed until coming to Toronto. The point here is that the unknown opportunities you think you’ll never have are the most important. And whenever they come around, whether it’s the ability to live somewhere you’ve always wanted, or a job offer in a place you never thought you’d be able to get into – be like Shia LaBouf. Or Nike. If you stand back thinking of the ‘what ifs’ in life – I feel sorry for you. Whatever you think may be holding you back from achieving what you want to achieve. Just say to yourself ‘fuck it – this is what I want to do‘ and you’ll feel a whole lot better for it.

Throw yourself in at the deep end. Always.

I know it’s easier said than done, and there’s insecurities and mental health that comes into the barriers that stops people from being able to throw themselves into a situation. But, brick by brick, when that wall comes down, a whole new world opens up full of potential and most of all, fun. The people I’ve met here have really shown me that, and whilst some of them have left Toronto, I’m sure I’ll visit them in their home countries in the near future. Without the deep end dive, that probably wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t have met such fantastically bright and interesting people and not been able to make the memories that I have now. And the further potential to make more for the time I’m still in Toronto for!

Make time for friends, old and new alike. 

It’s very easy to get very absorbed in the work you’re doing, whether it’s studying or career based. I love it when people are so dedicated to their work because for them it isn’t work as they love what they do so much for them, it’s living. However, sometimes you forget to stop and take a look around once in a while, and whilst you grinding through the books or organising meeting or whatever you may be doing, always make time for the people around you. Back in Stirling, even before it came near to final exams, I would be in the library for a horrific amount of time – and I know that I will be doing similar hours in the library coming into my 4th year with my dissertation to write as well as other things. But this time I’m going to spend my time away from the desk and the lab differently, I’m going to make sure I go and do things with the people that mean the dearest to me instead of feeling tired and broken after long hours. Yes, there may be a bit of extra tea drinking, but there’s never such a thing as too much tea. Making the most of your time of to try new things with friends is now something I’m going to try and do as much as I can, regardless of how tired I may feel because sometimes, life can catch up with you pretty quick.

I’ve got another 7 weeks in Toronto, where I’m going to be either doing something or going somewhere new every day to get the most out of a city that I’ve fallen in love with. There are a few things in the pipeline of events that will be coming through here, so watch this space.

Till then – Keep Exploring.