CTSI welcomes our new Re:Think Writer

alt= Elizabeth standing in front of the University College building a couple days before the fall term starts

My name is Elizabeth Chan, and I am a first-year student in the Humanities program.

Up until this point, I’ve lived in the suburbs of the city core and enjoyed having a certain distance and proximity to the downtown area. I was born in Markham and lived there until I was 5 when we moved to Roswell, Georgia in the metro-Atlanta area.

Roswell definitely has Southern roots with its warm, tight-knit community but also a modern feel in terms of the many places to shop and dine. Still, as much as I love Roswell, I’ve always considered Toronto to be my hometown.

Most of my family lives in Toronto, and some of my best memories are from spending time with them here. We’d regularly have dim sum or family gatherings at one of my aunt’s houses and stay there well into the night. Most summers, my family and I return to Toronto and reunite with our family and eat more delicious Chinese food.

My friends in Roswell are also well aware of my beaming (and excessive) Canadian pride and love for Toronto. It’s fast-paced, energetic, vibrant, and rich in culture. It was no surprise to my family and friends when I expressed interest in moving back to Toronto for university.

In the summer of 2017, my family and I took our annual trip to Toronto and booked a campus tour at U of T. My tour guide was in Victoria College or “Vic”, and I recall him sharing some fascinating stories and traditions. This undoubtedly influenced me during the application process later on, where I selected Vic as my top choice.

He took us all around campus from dining halls to libraries and ended our tour at the University College building in King’s College Circle. I walked out and was amazed by the landscape displaying the CN Tower from a distance and what I’d later learn is Convocation Hall to the right.

alt= CN tower seen from University College front doors

Photo courtesy: Raquel Chan

There was no doubt in my mind about attending U of T after that day. At that point, it was just a matter of applying and waiting to hear back.

When I received my acceptance letter, I was ecstatic. It had not only been a goal of mine to attend U of T but on a greater scale, fulfilled my dreams of returning home.

After one month here, I haven’t been disappointed in the slightest. I’ve enrolled in courses that I’ve always been curious about like anthropology and psychology and ones that peaked my interest like political science and women and gender studies and am able to learn from professors who are experts in their field.

One big adjustment – aside from being in the heart of the city as opposed to the suburbs – is class size. However, it’s compensated by tutorials, which have allowed me to hold discussions with my peers on the class material. They provide a small-group setting where I can hear ideas from my classmates, engage in the material more deeply, and improve my understanding of it.

Another challenge has been meeting people, especially as an introverted first-year living in a single room. It requires action on my part to actively participate in extracurriculars such as the Psychology Student Association and the Varsity publication so that I don’t frequently find myself isolated. There are benefits, though. I have become more independent than I have ever been and have the freedom to move and work at my own pace.

Being in an academically rigorous and stimulating environment like U of T has provided me with boundless knowledge, opportunities, and resources thus far. I’m grateful and know that I will be pushed to work harder than ever and meanwhile develop lifelong skills. On top of that, I’m glad to experience this next exciting stage of my life in a place I can finally and so proudly call home again.

alt= Elizabeth and sister at University College

Photo courtesy: Raquel Chan

Elizabeth will be contributing stories to Re:Think. Please send any U of T teaching and learning story ideas to k.olmstead@utoronto.ca.