Falling in love with Toronto all over again
Falling in love with Toronto all over again
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2007.11.05 00:00
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▲ Kim Hyo-jin (left) poses with her German friend at Kawartha Lakes, the park where she went camping.

CAPTION: Kim Hyo-jin (left) poses with her German friend at Kawartha Lakes, the park where she went camping.




Having lived in Toronto when I was young, my memory of Toronto had acquired a bit of a dreamlike fantasy ever since I came back to Korea. Everything about Toronto seemed picture-perfect: its vast, beautiful landscape, its multicultural population, and its open and liberal environment. I recollected all my wonderfully diverse friends, the frolicking and prancing about in the playground, and the little picnics we had under the cool shade of trees.


Needless to say, the thought of going back and reviving all those blissful moments drove up my anticipation level when I decided to choose the University of Toronto as my exchange school. I felt this was my chance to reclaim a bit of that old Canadian self after years of being “Koreanized.”


However, when I first arrived in the University of Toronto, I felt somewhat disconnected and found myself encountered with the task of having to adapt to the Canadian culture all over again. Even the most trivial things caught me by surprise, such as a perfect stranger striking up a conversation in the elevator or a passerby apologizing at even the slightest brushing against the shoulder. Although Canadians were known to be generally friendly, I got the impression that they were slightly standoffish as well, making it hard for me to approach them.


In addition, I was surprised to see a predominant number of ethnically clustered groups on campus, despite my expectation that everyone would be coexisting in harmony. Because of the large number of Korean students in Toronto, the fact that I could hear Korean every now and then also added to my confusion, sometimes making me feel as though I had not entirely left Korea.


Through many events hosted by the school’s International Student Centre, however, I had a number of opportunities to meet international students and other exchange students like myself. There were students from virtually all parts of the globe and I found myself surrounded by all these people whose personalities were as colorful as their diverse backgrounds.


My major being International Studies, I had learned about the rather vague notion of being a “global citizen” in one of my classes but had never fully grasped the meaning of it. Now that I was building up this global network of friends, I gradually began to understand what it meant to have a “global identity,” in that I was perceiving myself not just as a Korean within the boundaries of my own country but as a citizen in a larger global community. In a sense, Toronto seemed like a mini global village that encompassed so many different cultures and nationalities. As a certain friend here once commented, hanging around with such a diverse group almost felt like traveling around the world.


It has been a little over a month since I have come to the University of Toronto but I have already made some unforgettable memories. I went camping for the first time in my life, attended an all-night contemporary art festival called Nuit Blanche, and had my first Thanksgiving dinner.


Although I had my period of disorientation having been thrust into a completely new environment at first, I am now quite well adjusted and relishing each and every second of my time here. While bracing myself for the infamous Canadian winter, I am also looking forward to seeing more of what Toronto and the University of Toronto have to offer.


Kim Hyo-jin (International Studies, 3) is currently studying at the University of Toronto, Canada for a year as an exchange student.

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