Jun 17, 2024

A Journey Beyond the Classroom

Transition Blog

Grace and Melanie Explore Toronto

Hi prospective U of T MD students!

Our names are Grace Kuang and Melanie Figueiredo and we are two second-year medical students at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. Over the past year, we’ve had the chance to explore the vibrant city that is Toronto and we’ve got some gems to share with you about living here! From Xmas-themed bars to Latin-street festivals, the city has so much to offer and it’s been an absolute privilege to be able to soak it all up.


Compilation of photos depicting social activities
Melanie Figueiredo


The best part about staying active in Toronto is the variety of options! Living downtown means that most places you’d want to try are within walking distance, making it super convenient to try different things. 

Living less than 10 minutes away from Sweat and Tonic was the selling point for getting a membership for me. Here, I was able to try a whole range of fitness classes including hot Pilates, boxing, spin, and HIIT. They also have a lounge upstairs where you can study and are almost guaranteed to run into other med students and friends :) When the weather is warmer, biking or running along the Harbourfront is a must. The views are immaculate - and if you go with friends, you can also make a pit stop and have a nice little picnic by the water.


Map of running route
Grace Kuang


There’s no shortage of gyms in Toronto; there are 3 Goodlife’s within a 600m radius of my apartment, and there are 3 gyms on U of T’s massive campus. As med students, we get a sweet Goodlife discount through the Ontario Medical Association and the U of T gyms are free! “Classpass” offers credits that you can use toward any fitness studio downtown, and that’s how I was able to trial the iconic Sweat & Tonic and Barry’s Bootcamp classes.

But with the gorgeous spring and summer weather we’ve had lately, I’ve swapped out the gym for running! My favourite part of running in the city is every time I go in a new direction, exploring new neighbourhoods. I found myself randomly at Casa Loma the other day, and have been loving trails by Don Valley Parkway.



Shots depicting different restaurants
Melanie Figueiredo


Trying new restaurants is one of my absolute favorite parts about living downtown! There are an endless amount of places to try and I’ve come across so many amazing ones just in the past year alone. The food scene downtown is INCREDIBLE. Other than Grace’s best eats, here are some of my go-to’s as well:

  • Dzô Viet → incredible Vietnamese food (also a few mins from McCaul, making it an IDEAL post-study celebration)
  • 416 Snack Bar → fun & cheap snack bar with a constantly changing menu, created with the intention of characterizing Toronto’s many cultures
  • Bar Raval → shareable tapas with their iconic lack of chairs. Super fun place to socialize and catch up with friends
  • Piccolo Piano → unrivaled Italian food and Neapolitan pizzas 
  • Mamakas → upscale Greek taverna with iconic lamb chops


Collage of different foods and pin map to various restaurants
Grace Kuang


I’m a HUGE foodie, so I’ve pinned red hearts for all the places I’ve eaten and green flags for all the places I want to eat on my google maps.

The best eats this past year, from top-left going clockwise, were:


  • Amal -> upscale Lebanese food
  • PAI -> infamous Thai restaurant
  • Old School -> iconic blueberry brunch pancakes
  • Marked -> fancy $$$$ restaurant
Social activities with young people
Melanie Figueiredo

Events/activities in Toronto

One thing you can be sure of at any time - there is never a shortage of things/activities/events to do downtown! Some of my go-tos include catching the sunset at Riverdale park, exploring the ROM (free for anyone under 25 every Tuesday, although my favorite is the “ROM after dark” events), strolling through the AGO (free for students everyday!). 

During the winter, it’s a lot of fun to walk around the iconic Christmas market in Distillery District - and in the summer, a nice picnic at Trinity Bellwoods is just the thing to do. 


Collage of smiling young people at various entertainment venues
Grace Kuang

Events/activities in Toronto

The best part about living in Toronto? Every big artist/musical/sports game takes place here, and all your non-GTA friends come to visit!

Some of the highlights from this  past year included exploring the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), seeing my favourite band ‘The 1975’ perform, taking a day trip to Canada’s Wonderland for Halloween Haunt, and watching a Jays’ game!

Aside from events, there’s a ton of cool neighbourhoods to explore: the Danforth for Greek food, King West for nightclubs, West Queen West for quirky shops, and the list goes on!

Collage of students studying in various settings.
Melanie Figueiredo


Personally, I LOVE to study in groups and find I’m always way more productive studying outside of the home (and luckily, Toronto has an abundance of cute study locations!). I’ve been to a lot of libraries downtown and my favorites are Gerstein, Bora Laskin, Hart House, and Toronto Reference. Some of my go-to cafes to study at are Balzac’s, Versus, and Jimmy’s Coffee. The MaRS centre is also a super convenient place to study, as it's just across the street from MSB! 


I’m not a big “cafe studier” so I either study at home or in what we students call “McCaul”. The fifth floor of the 263 McCaul building is reserved for U of T medical students, and with private study rooms, fancy ergonomic chairs, white boards, a fridge, and couches, it’s become a second home to some of us. We might not always be 100% productive, but at least we get our socializing in!