Reserapport - KI-student
Lärosäte: University of Toronto
Utbildningsprogram: Biomedicin
Utbytesprogram: INK
Termin: Vårtermin 16/17
Namn: Sara Moberg

Innan avresa

So you're thinking of going to Toronto for an exchange? or you just got accepted? Either way, it's a great choice! If you want the big, north american city experience then this sports-loving skyscraper city is an excellent choice!

I have family in Toronto so partly why I choose to come was to be closer to them but also to experience the big city vibe as well as being in a very exciting hub for neuroscience research. University of Toronto ('UofT') is one of the most prestigious schools in Canada and even more so for their renowned research. When I first got accepted for the nomination for the exchange I had to first write my official application for UofT. This is mainly for formalities but the application had to be submitted 1 month later (early April). For this you have to write a motivational letter (similarly as you wrote for the nomination at KI) and you also have to select a minimum of 3 courses, I will explain this later in the report. 

The next step is to find a research group. I would here recommend just searching online on the websites of the different departments and go through them because there are ALOT of different groups doing very interesting research. When writing emails to groups it is important to explain that you will be conducting a bachelor thesis since they don't have this structure in the bachelor's programmes. 

Even though you get insurance coverage from KI, UofT still require you to pay their own insurance programme UHIP. I tried to explain this to the international coordinator there in Toronto but in vain, so I highly recommend to pay it in advance. 

I conducted my project in one of the affiliated hospitals and I had to present a health certificate before I could start working. I did this in Toronto but again, I highly recommend to do this in Sweden as it becomes very complicated with payment and sending your receipts to the insurance company. 

Visa is not a problem if you're a Swedish student as you can stay in Canada for 6 months without a visa. You do, however, need to apply for a electronic travel permit but this is about 100 SEK and a very fast process. 

Ankomst och registrering

I flew to Toronto with Icelandair via Reykjavik, It was the fastest, cheapest option with only 1 hour wait in Reykjavik. In Toronto, you can take a train that goes to the central station, it's a very easy option if you have big bags. While settled in you need to go and register yourself at the Centre for International Experience ('CIE'). You should have received a welcome email from them well in advance with the adress. There, you will get a welcome pack but I also recommend to attend the introduction days to meet the rest of the exchange students. Even though there will be plenty of socializing events organized by CIE, It's a good idea to get to know them during these days. 

After this I just registered myself at the hospital to receive my access card and all pre-training that I needed before I could start working, which turned out to be quite alot. It was all very straight forward and I could start working immediately after so it was very easy. 


Prices in Toronto are quite comparable to Stockholm. Food, clothes and alcohol is slightly cheaper. Public transport and accommodation, however, is more expensive than here. I kept this in mind when looking for a place that was walking distance to downtown but still in an affordable area. Travelling around in Canada is also more expensive and I would save up some money if you plan to travel during your exchange as this can really hurt your bank account. 


As I mentioned before, accommodation here is more expensive. However, there are plenty of rooms to rent. I rented a room from a family friend in a cute little brunch heaven called Leslieville for 625 CAD (around 4000 SEK). It was about 45 min walk to the lab or 15 min by streetcar. is an excellent website to get a tour of the different distinctive neighbourhoods. A lot of students live around an area called the Annex, it's very central but also quite expensive. Rooms go very fast and they want you to be present for viewings so it's a good idea to be alert and always check the sites for new adds. 

Adds to check out are housinganywhere, Bunz Home Zone (a facebook group for housing for students) and 

Studier allmänt

As I was mainly in the lab I will describe more of the working environment rather than the studying at UofT. The work ethics is similar to that in Sweden. People would start their day between 9-9.30 and finish between 17-18. Sometimes you had to stay longer because of experiments and I went in a lot during weekends but in general it's quite a relaxed atmosphere. 

The group I was working in was quite big but everyone was really really friendly and they loved to help you whenever you needed it which made my stay very pleasant. 
UofT campus

Kurser under utbytet

Kurser motsvarande termin 6 på KI
I took an online course of Bioinformatics which was given via coursera. It was very good and also did not interrupt any experiments in the lab. In Toronto 10% of your grade come from attendants so I wanted to study something online so I didn't have to travel back and forth twice a week. I can't say much on how the lecture are but what I've heard is that they are very similar to what we're used to at KI. 

Språk och kultur

As we are used to working in English, there was no language barrier. The culture on the other hand I felt was surprisingly different from the Swedish one. Canadians are very open, happy and I felt it was quite easy to talk to them, they are very outgoing. On the other hand, it might feel quite superficial, all the conversations feel very rehearsed in the beginning. But I found that as you get to know the person better, the conversations became more genuine. 

Another difference is that Canadians like to say sorry, A LOT. So get ready to get overwhelmed by apologizes. 

Fritid och sociala aktivteter

As Toronto is one of the biggest cities in north america, there are endless of things going on. became my bible as this site would post new articles everyday on what's going on that week, what free event are going on and general tips on what to do. It's impossible to get bored in this city. 

The lab would sometimes go out for dinner or the occasional karaoke-nights which was very fun and it was great to get to know each other outside of the lab. I also joined a climbing group and met a lot of new people this way. I think it's all up to you to get out there and introduce yourself, this felt a bit strange at first but since Canadians are so open, it didn't become awkward and they just welcomed you in. 


All in all I really enjoyed my time in Canada. At the end I did miss europe and was a bit tired of the north american view on things. I did, however, encounter a reversed culture shock coming back as all of sudden, no one apologies or greets you with the typical 'Hi, how are you?'. 

If you want to experience this overly cheerful city and big north american city vibe I would highly recommend Toronto as a exchange destination!