Touring Canadian Universities

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit two very prestigious, world-renown Canadian universities: Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario. The trip from Grand Rapids was long (about 9 hours!), but in the end, it was worth it!

First, I visited the beautiful Queen’s University campus near downtown Kingston, right next to Lake Ontario. Several of its buildings have an old Scottish castle look, which is not surprising considering that Queen’s is the oldest degree-granting institution in Canada. Queen’s also ranks in the top 50 universities worldwide by different reviewers, up there with places like Harvard and Cambridge.

I am mostly interested in their software engineering master’s program, where I could do research in application security, pattern recognition, or reverse engineering. Their master’s in robotics and systems control also sounds appealing, since I could research space robotics, remote robotic controls, or robot communication links.

Kingston is a breath-taking little city. Although it is not very big, it has lots to offer: arts, museums, historic sites, lake Ontario, and a vivid downtown. The people there are extremely friendly. During my short two-day stay, I felt more warmly welcome there than in my own city! The amount of diversity and intercultural acceptance in Kingston — and Canada in general — never ceases to amaze me. Having lived in two countries where discrimination is a fact of daily life (Guatemala and the U.S.), Canada’s many cultures and the tolerance they have for each other feels very refreshing.

Next, I went to Toronto, Ontario to visit the University of Toronto. The Saint George campus is huge and has my castle-looking buildings, and even a Harry Potter-ish dining room. There is also a chapel that features stained glass windows “taken” (which, as I pointed out to my tour guide, translates into steeling) by Canadian soldiers from torn-down churches in Europe during World War I or II. This university has around 70,000 students and has produced many great scholars, including Nobel Price winners. Although U of T’s engineering research in general is pretty good, I do not like what their computer engineering program has to offer. I also do not like the fact that U of To is so big. I think I prefer smaller universities where I can to get to know my professors and work more closely with them.

I toured Toronto just for a little while before heading back home. Downtown is quite amazing, with its tall buildings and strange architectural designs. The CN tower is pretty cool too, especially when looking down from the top and realizing that there are helicopters flying underneath! My favorite memory of Toronto though is riding the subway.

You can watch my complete tour on YouTube here: — just look for the “My first trip to Canada” playlist.

About Gabriel Mongefranco

Gabriel Mongefranco is your software developer for all things data: extraction, integration, analytics and security. He is also a blogger, a poet, a proud father and a faithful Christian. He is always eager to contract with faith-based nonprofits! Learn more.