ISOIS ▸ Final reports

Host country:
Host institution:
Mobility type:
Program:
Faculty:
Ac. year:
Semesters:
Study level:
Language filled in:

University of Toronto

Canada 2018/2019 Partner universities

Personal data
Mobility type:
study

Faculty at MU:
Faculty of Science

Field of study:
Physics

Level of study during period of placement:
Bachelor

Language used:
English

Summer/winter school?:
no

Period of studies:
autumn 2018

Period of placement (from-to):
2018-09-04 - 2018-12-21

Number of months:
4.00

Activities before my departure abroad
Where can information be found about courses taught at the foreign school?:
All of the courses including further information are listed at http://coursefinder.utoronto.ca . A list of recommended courses for each programmme can be usually found at the departmental website.

Which documents were needed for acceptance at the foreign university?:
Apart from documents also required by CZS MUNI, I needed to hand in a list of courses attended prior to the exchange for purposes of courses selection (you cannot choose a course without satisfying its prerequisites).
A TOEFL certificate of English proficiency is required by UofT (CPE was not accepted).
Student visa is required for stays longer than 6 months, or if you are going to do on-campus work (research included).

How far ahead did you have to organise your acceptance?:
I needed to get the English certificate and hand in the list of attended courses roughly 6 months before the beginning of the exchange.
Approximately 2 months before, I had to formally accept the exchange offer and select my courses.

Did you need a visa?:
no

Documents and materials needed for a visa:

Length of wait for visa:

Fee for the visa:

Studies
Did you have a Learning Agreement signed before your departure?:
yes

If not, why not?:

Before your departure did you know how your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes, I agreed on the recognition with my programme coordinator as a part of signing the Learning Agreement.

During your stay did you change your Learning Agreement?:
Yes, without any complication (UofT staff is OK with it).

When and how did course registration take place? Are there any restrictions? Possibilities of making changes?:
Course registration starts approximately 2 months prior to the stay and ends a month after the beginning of the semester. In general, the sooner you will register the course, the higher the chance you will get in. There are some courses forbidden for exchange students (the full list is available on the website). Also, every course has got a list of prerequisites which need to be met. Exchange students can register up to 5 courses per semester.

Courses can be dropped roughly a month and a half before the end of the semester (usually after the midterms; you can drop a course if the midterm did not go well).

Did you take any examinations at the foreign school?:
Yes, some of the courses had an ordinary written midterm + final exam. Some courses required a final project.

Does the school use the ECTS system?:
no

If not then explain how the credits there were recalculated into ECTS:
Courses recognized by my home faculty had the same credit valuation as the corresponding courses at my home faculty. I agreed on the credit valuation for the rest of my courses with my programme coordinator.

Describe the teaching methods (theory, practical and projects) and assessment of students:
Teaching methods are quite different depending on the course. In general though, there is a lot of homework or projects due every week in every field of study. Number of students in courses also varied greatly, but the professors were adequately prepared. Courses with practical work had a limited capacity.
In every course, students are graded in terms of percents for every homework, exam, etc. The university has got a common scale to convert percents to grades after the semester ends.
Course assessment was different in the fact that the final exams usually accounted for less than 50 % of the final grade. Quality of homework has got a big influence on the final grade.

Quality of teaching in comparison with home school:
I only took Physics courses, so I do not speak for other courses. I was surprised that the quality of teaching at University of Toronto and Masaryk University is quite comparable. I spotted a difference in the fact that professors at the UofT do not adjust the course difficulty according to students' needs. Students are expected to learn everything the course covers on their own, no matter the difficulty.

How did you receive study materials?:
Some of the professors provide their presentations or literature online, but most of the courses work with one or two books you need to buy.

Can you recommend an interesting course/subject/teacher?:
I really liked Computational Physics course with Nicolas Grisouard. Every week, I learned about a new useful numeric computation technique and I used it to solve a mandatory weekly project.

How well is the school library equipped?:
The University of Toronto has got one the biggest book collection and well-equipped libraries. However, I have no information about the availability of the Physics books I needed for the courses.

Availability of computers, internet access, level of software needed, requirements on notebook:
UofT has got an eduroam Wi-Fi coverage over the whole campus. University online services are web-based, so no additional software is needed. Computers for public access are available in the libraries.

Options from printing and copying:
Scanning is available free of charge in most libraries. Funds on your TCard are needed for printing and copying (15 cents for a black-and-white page).

Does the foreign school/student organisation arrange special events for exchange students?:
yes

If yes then what?:
There is a welcome and farewell event with some practical/administrative information. There are also some exchange students' meetings couple of times per semester.

How would you assess your integration with the local students (evaluation like in school from 1 to 5 with 1 as highest):
4

or describe in your own words:

Practical questions on your placement
Where did you live?:
I had a bedroom in a house shared with 3 other international students. The house had a good kitchen (important, since eating out is expensive in Toronto). My commute to school took roughly 30 minutes.

Cost of accommodation - monthly:
400 EUR

Additional comments to the price of accommodation (as to what the price includes):
The price included a bedroom in a heated house and a Wi-Fi internet connection.
Toronto housing market is crazy for past few years. Rent is skyrocketing and there is usually a tough competition between students for vacant rooms, so be prepared.
There is a significant chance you will get a place in university dorms if you apply for it. Do not expect anything, but if you are interested, give it a go.

Describe the equipment. Tips for future students – what should they bring with them?:
The most essential item is the adapter for Canadian power outlets (European chargers are worthless in Canada without it). Otherwise, pretty much everything else (incl. clothes) can be bought there.

How and how far ahead should accommodation be organised?:
I booked an AirBnB a week before my departure and looked for more permanent accommodation after I arrived. Arranging housing before you come is pretty difficult, since the landlords usually want to see you in person and they usually have many other people asking for the apartment/room.

What are the catering options?:
There are some on-campus options, but I do not have any experience with them (usually just bufets and shops with packaged stuff). Eating out in Toronto can be very expensive, but fast-food prices are only slightly higher than in CZ. Most of the time, I cooked myself. Grocery stores in Toronto offer a really wide variety of groceries, so you have the resources to cook almost anything there.

What are the rough costs of groceries (compare with Czech prices):
Groceries are a little more expensive (~1.5x) than in the Czech Republic. However, prices are very different depending on the store. Big chain supermarkets like Freshco and NoFrills are probably the cheapest (some stuff like processed food is sometimes even cheaper than here) and have a wide variety of food. If you are into Asian cuisine, there are lots of Asian supermarkets in Toronto with very cheap prices.

Transport to location of placement:
I flew from Prague to London, Stansted and then straight to Toronto (same way from Toronto to Prague). There is plenty of other options.

Rough prices for transportation:
I paid roughly 10 000 CZK for the trip to Toronto. Since I flew back 2 days before Christmas Eve, the prices were a little higher (~ 14 000 CZK), but the worst thing was the amount of people travelling. Airports do not really manage so many people flying and there are huge waiting lines everywhere. If you can, just do not travel before Christmas.

Tips for purchasing cheap tickets and other recommendations:
I checked the prices on kiwi.com and then bought the tickets directly on the airlines' websites.

What are the local transport options (public transport, cycling, on foot, rough prices):
Toronto has got a great infrastructure for commute on bike. You can buy a bikesharing card for a year very cheaply and cycle to the uni when it's warm. Public transportation can be a little crowded, but otherwise it is quite good. However, it is quite expensive (~ 115 CAD/month). Locals use Uber a lot (~ 10 CAD/ride).

What kind of formalities have to be arranged before arrival, for example residence permit?:
If you plan to stay for more than 6 months, you need a student visa. Otherwise, eTA will suffice (easily done online).

What health insurance did you use? (rough price, advantages, disadvantages, is it necessary to arrange insurance at the university other than your home (Czech) insurance?):
I had a mandatory university health plan, which covers almost everything apart from dental and optometrist. UofT automatically deducted 150 CAD per semester from my university account.

Did you have any experience with medical treatment abroad?:
No.

Did you work during your studies?:
No. Working outside campus is illegal without proper work visa.

What are the conditions for working for MU students?:
On-campus work can be done with a student visa/permit (easy to get). Otherwise, you will need a work visa (do not know about availability of those).

Tips for free-time activities:
Toronto is a really great city with tons of sightseeing options plus opportunity to try food from all around the world. There is a lot of stuff to do outside of Toronto, too (mainly nature).
Specific tips: Niagara Falls, Royal Ontario Museum (huge, free on Tuesdays), a trip to nearby cities (Montreal, NYC, Boston, ...)

Financial support and expenses
Total grant from Centre for International Cooperation:
45500 CZK

Monthly grant in CZK:
13000 CZK

Number of supported months:
3.5

Total number of months:
3.5

What other sources did you make use of to finance your placement?:
I received Ladislav and Maria Kroupa scholarship - 3000 CAD (~ 50000 CZK)

If you received another grant, state which and how much in CZK:

 
Total fees associated with enrolment at the university:
150 CAD

a/ amount of enrolment fee:
0 CAD

b/ amount of tuition fees:
0 CAD

c/ amount of other fees (which):
150 CAD

 
What was your average monthly expenditure?:
1100 CAD

a/ of which for accommodation:
600 CAD

b/ of which for catering:
300 CAD

c/ travel and recreation:
200 CAD

Any comments to the average monthly expenditure:

Recognition of foreign studies at the home faculty
How many credits did you gain during your studies (in the system of the foreign school)?:
2

How many ECTS credits were recognised at MU?:
20

Did you know in advance which of your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes

What problems did you have with recognition?:
None. I did not need many credits, only needed 20 to comply with the rules.

Overall assessment
Assessment of personal benefit (1 = excellent):
1

Assessment of academic benefit (1 = excellent):
2

Evaluate the information and support provided by the foreign school (1 = excellent):
1

Did you encounter any serious problems during your stay:
No.

What would you recommend to take with you:
European-North American power outlet adapter.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a positive way:
Very friendly, but also motivated and excited people. Lots of events and societies for people interested in virtually any topic. In general, the university is a great place when you want to work hard on improving yourself.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a negative way:
I got the chance to see the dark side of a top North-American university: some students have got an extreme workload and have to study all the time, which has got a negative effect on mental health (although Physics courses were fine and I did not struggle).

Further comments: