Toronto to Boston

Toronto to Boston

It feels as though I was packing my whole life away in a suitcase just a few days ago. I can’t believe that it has already been 2 weeks since I officially moved from Toronto to Boston.

Moving away from family and friends was definitely tough but knowing that the journey ahead is exactly what I’ve dreamt of makes it all worthwhile.

There were many steps I had to take to ensure a smooth transition to Boston – most of which I had not anticipated. Moving to another country and starting school can be stressful, so here are a few tips to help with your transition.


Finding housing was one of the most important tasks on my to-do list. I had no idea where to start when it came time to find apartments and roommates. Thanks to our wonderful community at NECO, I was able to connect with my classmates virtually. I joined a NECO Facebook group for the incoming class and started to make friends. It’s really important to reach out to other classmates and get to know one another because it helps you decide who you could potentially live with and where.

I would highly suggest attending the housing fair held by NECO. This gave me the chance to meet a few classmates and also decide on where I was going to live. There are many considerations when looking into housing. For example, rent and proximity were most important to me. I had to find a reasonable trade-off between the two, and I did! Reach out to other classmates, the school, and realtors in the city for more options before settling on one thing.

F1 Visa

As a Canadian, I had a lot to do before crossing the border. One of those things was getting my F1 Student Visa. I had to get all my financial documents sorted out and mailed to the school so I could be issued an I20 Form. Along with the I20, you will need to make sure you pay your SEVIS I-901 fee. The first time you cross the border, you will need your financial documentation, I20 and SEVIS I-904 receipt. This is your golden ticket! You will need these things every time you go back home and return. I would suggest getting started with your I20 paperwork as early as possible.

Phone plan

I received a great tip from OD2, Katie Li: get a family phone plan. There are so many different phone plans available through T-Mobile, AT&T, and Cricket. By getting a family phone plan with a couple of other classmates, I was able to save some cash! Also, try to make sure you get a phone plan that includes roaming in Canada, this way you’ll be able to use your phone when you go back home. To set up, keep in mind, that usually one person will be paying for all the lines. So make sure you set up apps such as Venmo or Zelle, so you can easily transfer funds to friends on a monthly basis.

Extra Tips

You also need to consider your commute to school. A lot of my classmates invested in a Charlie Card for the first few weeks of school and are planning to get a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority pass later on. The Charlie Card is a reloadable bus card while the MBTA pass is a discounted pass that can be used over the course of a few months. Another great perk about attending NECO is that we receive a free membership at the YMCA of Greater Boston. This gives us the opportunity to stay healthy and active.

Moving to a different country and starting school can be stressful but getting into a new groove and starting new routines will help you slowly ease into school life. These tips have made my transition to optometry school and a new country a lot easier and I can’t wait for what lies ahead here in Boston. It is such a great place and I can’t wait to start exploring the city that I now call home.