Eric's page of useful bits of information for new CS grad students

Welcome to York. This page isn't intended to give "official" information about the programme. Instead, it gives some bits of information that will, I hope, help you adjust to life at York and in Toronto. Perhaps it will help make your time here a little more fun too.

York Info

Information about the CS grad programme.

Faculty of Graduate Studies.

A full range of York's resources for students is described on this page.

You can get internet access on campus in various ways. You can also access the department's computers via this page.

The Student Community and Leadership Development page has information about campus life and can help you find housing.

The free student newspaper, Excalibur, has information about what's happening on campus. So does this site.

Getting some physical exercise is good for you. Check out the university's athletic facilities. You're already paying for the facilities in your fees, so you should use them.

Here is a map of campus. York uses abbreviations for building names (but likes to conceal the actual meanings of the acronyms in obscure web pages). To reveal the secret code, go to this page.

Academic Resources

York's library has a good collection of resources for research in computer science. Most of the university's science collection is in the Steacie Library, right next to the CS building. A lot of CS journals and conference proceedings (and other resources, like the OED) are available on-line and can be accessed by any computer at York. If you want to access those resources from at home, see this page. John Dupuis (in room 102E of the Steacie Library) is the librarian responsible for computer science. The York library loans videotapes and dvds (check the audiovisual library in the Scott Library). Free movies!

If you need to find something really obscure (or want to read some Estonian literature), you can also check the University of Toronto library, which is one of the most extensive in North America. As a grad student at York, you can get a UofT library card for free. (See this page for info.) Everyone has free access to the 99 branches of the Toronto Public Library across the city which have some things that university libraries don't (e.g., a great collection of up-to-date travel guidebooks at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St.).

If you're trying to find a CS journal or conference paper, a good place to start is The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies or DBLP. You can also try Google Scholar.

As a budding computer scientist, you should look into joining a professional society like the Association for Computing Machinery (which has special interest groups in several areas of computer science) or the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

It's fun to get involved with the ACM computer programming contest.

Make contacts with other grad students in the department (and also in other departments). Having friends around makes your time on campus more fun, but it's also an important support system. If you have questions about how something works, you can ask them. Learn from other students' experiences. If you have a research problem (or a supervisor) that is driving you crazy, you can talk about it with sympathetic fellow grad students. If you have a question or a comment that is of general interest to grad students in the department, you can use the grads@cs.yorku.ca mailing list.

Two major sources for scholarships are the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program.

Beyond Campus

Toronto is a great city to live in, and there's always lots to do. Take advantage of this.

Information Sources

The most important sources for stuff to do around town are NOW magazine and eye weekly, which are both free weekly magazines that are published every Thursday. Toronto Life magazine (monthly) also has lots of interesting information about the city, and if you order a subscription, they might send you a book of 2-for-1 coupons that you can use at various and attractions around the city.

Some Toronto web sites:

Getting Around

The public transit system (TTC) is a good way to get around town. Ask someone in a subway station ticket booth for a free map of the system. You pay one fare to go anywhere within city limits and can transfer from one vehicle to another as many times as you like (with no stopovers). To transfer between vehicles, take a paper slip (a "transfer") when you pay your fare. The fare is paid using tickets or tokens ($2.10 each, but you must buy 5 at a time; cash fare is higher). The subways run until 1:00 or 2:00 am (depending on where you are), and some of the buses run all night. If you use the system a lot, it might be worth it to buy a metropass (York students can buy them at a discounted price of $87.75 for a month of unlimited travel on the TTC--see this page). The official TTC web site is among the worst I have ever seen, but it's due to be redesigned; in the meantime, several people have created their own useful web pages about the TTC (e.g. crazed monkey's map.

To get downtown from York by TTC: Take bus number 196 (or number 106, which is slower, but has longer hours of service) to Downsview subway station. Both buses can be boarded just south of the York Lanes/Student Centre building. Then take the subway train south. Once you get beyond Dupont station, you're downtown.

GO Transit also runs trains and buses that serve York University. York's transportation page has more information too.

Toronto is also a fairly good city for biking, for at least part of the year. There are several maps of Toronto that show all the bike routes (see this link). The Martin Goodman trail, which runs along the shore of Lake Ontario is a nice place for recreational riding.

Google Maps or Yahoo Maps will help you find any street address in Toronto.

Toronto on a Student Budget

eye magazine publishes a student guide that lists places you can get stuff cheap.

NOW also published a set of similar articles in 2005.

Ikea (several locations, including one at the Leslie subway station) has good quality, inexpensive furniture and small household items, all with cute Swedish names. If you're setting up an apartment you might want to check out Toronto's tackiest store, Honest Ed's (Bloor and Bathurst; you can't miss it) for cheap housewares, but also for the experience that is Ed's.

Travel Cuts, which has an office on campus, can get you good student discounts on air fares and other travel arrangements.

For music, the best selection of new cd's is probably at HMV (Yonge St, just north of Dundas), now that Sam's has, sadly, gone out of business. To make your student dollar stretch farther, you can also check out the many used cd stores in town. There's a cluster of them on Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst.

For books, some favourites are the World's Biggest Bookstore (20 Edward Street, near Dundas station), the University of Toronto Bookstore, and Book City (various locations). There are a ton of specialty bookstores in town. There are also many great used bookstores, including Seekers (509 Bloor W), Eliots (584 Yonge), Atticus (84 Harbord).

Some cinemas are cheaper than others; look around. There are still a few repertory cinemas left which charge less (every day) for a movie than regular cinemas. They show movies a little after they are released in the major cinemas (and they also show some old classics). See NOW for listings.

The CBC posted an article about tax breaks for students.

Things to Do

There are tons of events going on all the time in Toronto. Here's a random sample of some places/events you should check out: Many of the cultural events in the city offer tickets to students (or people under 30) at incredible discounts. In particular, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company and Soulpepper Theatre Company have great deals. York University and the University of Toronto stage student productions of plays (and even operas) for very reasonable prices.

Neighbourhoods

There are lots of interesting neighbourhoods to explore in Toronto, each with its own character. 10 of my favourites: About half of Toronto's residents were born outside Canada, so many ethnic communities have stores, churches, community centers, and restaurants geared towards members of that community. (For example, even for a tiny country like Estonia, Toronto has the Estonian House community center, 3 churches, a credit union, a newspaper, and a few stores). Sometimes these are gathered into a single neighbourhood, but sometimes they are spread out across the city.

Information for GLBT Students

Toronto has a very large, active gay/lesbian/bi/trans community. It is spread out across the city, but many events and establishments are in the neighbourhood centred on Church Street, between Bloor and Carlton. A good source of information is the free newspaper Xtra, which comes out every second Thursday. York has a student group called TBLGAY. Don't miss Pride Week, which leads up to a parade and street party on the last Sunday in June that attracts close to a million people each year.

Want to know about the symbolism of York's coat of arms? See this page.

Thanks to the grad students who contributed some information to this page.

Back to Eric's home page. Updated August 20, 2007.