Great Expectations

We all remember our first impressions or expectations of Ryerson. After all, we had to have some opinion of the school that swayed our decision to come here. Folio Fashion & Lifestyle editor and soon to be grad, Kayleigh Robinson, reflects on first impressions of Rye and talks to a few former exchange students to see how their own held up. 


I ended up at Ryerson because I’m from Halifax and desperately wanted to leave for a bigger city. For me, it was between Toronto and Montreal. Vancouver wasn’t an option because it was way too far away and I’m definitely not the outdoorsy type. The only schools with prestigious journalism programs were Concordia and Ryerson. I toured both campuses and was unfairly biased in Concordia’s favour because after my tour there was a free Arcade Fire concert in the downtown area.

It wasn’t until I read the special campus issue of Maclean’s that every senior in high school is forced to read that the scale started to tip towards Ryerson. I remember there was something corny about how the only sneakers and jeans you would see at Ryerson would be the latest designer fashion. This appealed to me very specifically because I was still reeling from my school trip to Paris and London. To my horror, everyone on the trip was sporting hideous, light wash bootcut jeans and ASICS running shoes. I desired nothing more than to escape to a stylish city.

Besides this excerpt from Maclean’s, I chose Ryerson for a few reasons:

1) The journalism program was better.

2) I wouldn’t have to be bilingual to get a part-time job.

3) The campus is RIGHT downtown.

4) Drake lives here.

I absolutely do not regret my decision. Ryerson exceeded my expectations. Not everyone who attends the university is a fashion killa, but it’s pretty much the majority. The journalism program has been very hands-on and enjoyable. I easily got a part-time job right by campus. The location of the school couldn’t be better — although my wallet would probably like to be farther away from the Eaton Centre. And most importantly, I’ve seen Drake twice since first year.

I also consider myself an exchange student because Halifax is two European country-sized provinces away from Toronto. Plus, I’d only ever been to Toronto twice before moving here, once with my grandmother to visit her friend and then again for Warped Tour. However, I became an actual exchange student second semester of third year when I went to City University in London. Going on exchange only made me appreciate Ryerson more. The campus that’s easily navigated (except Kerr Hall), the staff that for the most part genuinely cares about you and your education, and the state-of-the-art facilities we have available to us.

I thought I’d reach out to actual exchange students who came to Ryerson University to see if their “expectations versus reality” of our school were similar to mine:

James Scantlebury, England

My impressions of Ryerson before I arrived were next to nothing. 

All I knew of Toronto was that it was a cold place, and there was a tall building called the CN Tower. Bizarre as it would seem — I hadn’t even heard of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as unlike someone from North America — there’s no media exposure to hockey. 

I had done some very basic research on the university, mainly on the course. I had several universities across the world to pick from, so reading about the course, and the fact that Ryerson is a city-based university helped my decision. 

I didn’t have that many expectations. I wanted to have a nice time, meet new people, and take part in interesting courses. 

I had a fantastic time on my exchange year, meeting lifelong friends, having phenomenal experiences, and setting myself up for the final year of my degree. In that respect, Ryerson went above and beyond of what I expected to happen in my year abroad.

Joanne Clark, Scotland

Before I arrived at Ryerson, through the website and exchange student information booklet, I got the impression that Ryerson was a modern university with a diverse range of modules on offer. 

Upon arrival I was impressed with the vast facilitates available to journalism students. I loved how friendly both the staff and students were — they undoubtedly contributed to my amazing time at Ryerson!

Birgit Wittezaele, Belgium

Before I arrived at Ryerson University, I didn’t really have any impressions. It was when I got there I realized that my school in Ghent (Arteveldehogeschool) really works differently. 

First of all, my school being in the city-centre is something totally different than RU being in the city-centre. For us, studying in the city centre means a lot of bikes, so the school has to provide storage for those bikes and RU doesn’t have that. Also, Toronto is much more vibrant and at almost every hour there are people walking on Gould Street. Ryerson is way more integrated in the city than Arteveldehogeschool. 

At first I thought Ryerson was way better organized than Artevelde but being there I realized every system has it flaws and so does Ryerson. For example, I couldn’t access my procom blog when I wasn’t connected to the Ryerson Wi-Fi. Or I didn’t need a sick note when I missed a test and I could just do it another day (in Belgium that wouldn’t have been possible!).

I was also shocked to know how much money was spent on the SLC because, in my opinion, I would rather pay less tuition than have an overly expensive and fancy student building. It’s a totally different culture. The approach between teachers and students is much more open and less formal.

Featured image by Kayleigh Robinson