My Experiential Learning Trip to Jamaica

By Katherine Lo                                                                                                  Undergraduate Student in Hospitality and Tourism Management, TRSM

Entering my 4th year as a Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) student at TRSM, I was able to combine formal learning and travel by going on the experiential learning trip to Jamaica this past spring with Dr. Frederic Dimanche’s class (HTT800 – Field Studies in Hospitality and Tourism).  I had the unique opportunity to experience Jamaica with other TRSM students and with RSVP Caribbean Volunteers (our partner in Jamaica), which was the perfect way to discover the island, from its culture and community to its lush landscapes and delicious cuisine.

The stigma that falls on Jamaica – and many other Caribbean islands – as being solely a source of all-inclusive resort vacations, is such a narrow view of what the destination has to offer. I was amazed that our itinerary kept us so busy for the full two weeks, yet we only spent one afternoon experiencing the resorts of the island.

I was able to have such authentic and enriching experiences in Jamaica, which made the trip truly unforgettable.  I stayed at the Rastafari Indigenous Village, and was immersed in a subculture I knew next to nothing about prior to the trip.  I was also able to witness the real community connection between RSVP Caribbean Volunteers and the homeless people of Mandeville during our Community Outreach project.

As a tourism student, I embarked on this trip with the goal of learning the fundamentals of community-based and sustainable tourism so that I could apply what I had learned to aid with tourism development in Chile after graduation. Once we met with Diana McIntyre-Pike, President of Countrystyle Community Tourism Network/Villages as Businesses and community-based tourism consultant, I felt incredibly motivated by her passion and inspired by her philosophy.

My biggest take-away from the trip was when McIntyre-Pike said, “Community tourism is community development. You have to start from the ground up.” This simple phrase carried a lot of weight for me. Before this HTM course, I understood that community-based tourism revolved around the idea of being by and for locals, but I did not realize how large the scope really was. There needs to be a fair allocation of funding to help build small businesses and entrepreneurs, available training, and most importantly, but also most difficult to achieve, a supportive and open mindset from the local people so that development is welcome.

The greatest thing about travel is being able to learn about and connect with a new culture, and to experience another way of living. This is something that is constant in almost all travel, but very diverse in every place I’ve had the good fortune of visiting, including Jamaica. It was being able to experience Jamaica in the way that we did, as a group of students looking to learn about everything the island had to offer and how to be engaged with it or apply our lessons – it was a once in a lifetime experience.

If there is one thing that I hope comes out of our time there, it is that more students get to learn about community-based and sustainable tourism in the same way we did. I also hope we get to witness real change sooner rather than later, and see more TRSM alumni being the drivers of such change.

From Poutines to Dim Sum – Hong Kong

By Metis Chan                                                                                Undergraduate student in Marketing Management, TRSM 

Looking back all the things that have happened in 2018, I still can’t believe I lived in another country for five months. After months of being back in Toronto, my experience in Hong Kong honestly felt like a dream, a dream I’ll never forget. I still remember it like it was yesterday when I headed to the airport in tears not wanting to leave the familiar city I’ve grown up in. I’m so glad I didn’t let my fears stop me that day or else I wouldn’t be who I am today. The moment I stepped off the 16-hour flight, my whole world literally changed. The perfect way to describe Hong Kong was that it was a concrete jungle. I guess what everyone said about Hong Kong being Asia’s New York was spot on. I was now in a dynamic crowded place where everyone was busy hustling through their day and where various aromas of food were hitting me left and right. At that moment was when I knew everything would be okay and the fear was replaced with excitement.

I had the privilege to study at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University; At the host university there were over 500 exchange students. All of us stayed in the campus residence; it was a building made up of approximately 1000 students with half being exchange students and the other half being locals. I stayed in a double room, where I had to share a room with another student. The other student I lived with was another girl that also attended Ryerson. This girl ended up becoming my best friend and I’m so happy that when everything came to an end she was someone that I knew would still be a constant in my life. At the start it was hard to get to know everyone and meet friends as I felt quite shy. However, once I started to talk to a few people, one thing lead to the next and I ended up with an amazing group of friends. I’m so fortunate to be able to say now that I have friends in America, Australia, Hong Kong, Sweden and various other parts of the world. Each of these individuals taught me a lot. Being able to have experienced this adventure with them was truly life-changing. These people, that I had only known for few months, brought out this whole new light in me as they were there to support me every moment along the way. I will never forget the late night talks at McDonald’s, walks on the streets in Whampoa, homework sessions, and food comas we shared.

Living in Hong Kong was a bliss, it was a beautiful city to live in. The skyline was unforgettable. People always ask me what I loved the most about the city and I think I love how Hong Kong is the perfect balance between a concrete jungle and a natural paradise. Hong Kong had more skyscrapers than I could count, but if you wanted some quiet you could also hike and witness the most beautiful views. The food culture was amazing; I got to try a huge variety of foods every day. I think my all-time favorites were definitely the dim sum and egg waffles.

Another great thing about studying abroad in Hong Kong was how close we were to all the other East Asian countries. I think what made studying abroad so wonderful was the ability to travel to a new country almost every month. I would spend my weekends packing and planning the next big trip with my friends. During my time abroad I visited Beijing, Korea, Australia, Bali, and Thailand. When I say that out loud, I still can’t believe I traveled to all those places. Yet, the best thing about each one of those trips were not all stunning views or the foods I tried, but the people that I shared the moments with that made it unforgettable.

Before I knew it, my 5 months of studying abroad flew by and it was time to part ways with everyone I met. It felt like such a shame that I had met all these amazing people and now I had to leave not knowing if I would have the chance to see them again one day. It was a bittersweet ending to all of it, but I think we were all thankful that we had had the chance to share a part of our lives together, even if it was short lived. However, I am sure we’ll have the chance to see each other again someday. As I sat in my seat on the plane and watched Hong Kong slowly fade away into the clouds that’s when I knew that this chapter of my life came to an end and a new one was about to begin again at home.

Coming home and seeing all my friends and family again, I was greeted with a million hugs and welcome backs’. Every time I saw someone they would be eager to ask “how was your exchange?” and I think the best way to describe everything was that it was pure serendipity. Although going on exchange was planned, everything else that happened was a timeline of unexpected events that led to something beautiful. I think this is something I will always look back at in my life and be thankful for.


Study Abroad This Summer

Thinking of traveling abroad this summer, but not sure what you want to do or where you want to go? We’ve got you covered. Many of Ryerson’s partner institutions around the world offer summer courses in a variety of fields.

While the application deadline has already passed for some opportunities, there are still many options available to explore this summer. Read on below to find out more about the available study abroad options and how you can receive credit for toward your Ryerson degree. Continue reading “Study Abroad This Summer”

Iconic Canadian Films to Prepare You for Your Exchange at Ryerson

One of the most difficult aspects about going on exchange is understanding the new culture you’re going to be living in for the next few months. To better prepare you for this culture shock, we have compiled a list of the must-see Canadian films, ranging from iconic classics to brand new releases, and everything in between. Read on to see which films you should binge before you arrive for your exchange. Continue reading “Iconic Canadian Films to Prepare You for Your Exchange at Ryerson”

23 Things to do in Toronto This Summer

Now that winter has finally ended, it’s time to start thinking ahead to fun in the sun. Whether you’re looking to explore the city, learn about different cultures, or just eat all the delicious food you can handle, Toronto has a plethora of events for everyone. Continue reading “23 Things to do in Toronto This Summer”

The Experience of a Lifetime

By Victoria Scarpelli, Undergraduate student in Global Management, Ted Rogers School of Management

When choosing which university I wanted to attend, I always knew I wanted to go on exchange at some point throughout my studies. This was one of my main reasons for deciding to attend Ryerson University. Their business program offered so many choices of schools in countries all over the world. In my 2nd semester of my 3rd year of studies, I was finally able to make this dream a reality by attending SKEMA Business School in Nice, France for a semester with my best friend. We decided to stay in a little town just outside the main city called Antibes. As soon as we arrived, I instantly fell in love. The culture, cuisine, the art and history, it was all just so incredible. Not to mention, it was winter and 15 degrees outside and sunny!!

Continue reading “The Experience of a Lifetime”

From Ryerson to the Honda Research Institute: A year as a Software Developer in Japan

By Adam Adair, Undergraduate student in Computer Science, Faculty of Science

I recently began a 12-month position as a Software Developer at the Honda Research Institute in Wako, Japan. The placement is part of the Canada-Japan Co-op program (CJCP), which is hosted in collaboration with the University of British Columbia.

Last semester, while job searching, I was extremely excited to see a posting for the Canada-Japan Co-op program . I believe that an international co-op is an excellent opportunity and Japan is an ideal destination for me personally. Since I am half Japanese, I have always wanted to visit Japan and explore that part of my heritage in order to better understand that side of my background and culture. However, until I received this great opportunity, it has always been financially infeasible.

Continue reading “From Ryerson to the Honda Research Institute: A year as a Software Developer in Japan”

5 Things Students Should Know About The Netherlands

 By Nataleah Hunter-Young, PhD student in Communication & Culture

In December 2017, I travelled to the Netherlands to present at the first Art & Activism Conference hosted by Leiden University, located about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. The conference was only set to last three days but, seeing as I had never been to the Netherlands before, I tacked on an extra week and a half to the beginning of the trip so that I could explore. If you are travelling to Holland for similar reasons, and can afford to do the same, I would highly recommend it but there are a few things to be aware of before you travel.

Continue reading “5 Things Students Should Know About The Netherlands”

Toronto → Melbourne: Moving from the Fourth Most Livable City in the World to the First

By Tiffany Rioflorido, Undergraduate student in Business Management, Ted Rogers School of Management

Since returning from my exchange at RMIT University in Melbourne, I have constantly been asked the same generic question — How was Australia? I never quite know how to fully summarize my exchange and often find myself struggling to answer the question, so much so that my answers often come out bland and almost unforgiving. “Good” I say, however sometimes on a better day I say, “great.” Other questions such as Did you surf? or What was your favourite memory? are a little easier to answer- yes, I did surf (once), and I have many favourite memories from my exchange to pick from.

Continue reading “Toronto → Melbourne: Moving from the Fourth Most Livable City in the World to the First”


By Kelvin Urbina, Undergraduate student in Chemistry, Faculty of Science

This past summer, I spent four months in London, England participating in an exchange at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the University College London School of Pharmacy. During my time abroad I conducted research to create a drug delivery system to treat bovine mastitis, aka cattle mammary gland infections, in the nano-fabrication and dosage design form laboratory.

Inspired by the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man — about a man who, quite literally, says yes to every option that is presented to him — I spent my summer in London saying yes to opportunities and this attitude brought me nothing but happiness.

Continue reading “#YesMan”