The New City

The Last 8 Months in Memories

Keenan Ngo
Jun 12 · 7 min read
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It’s been a while since I wrote an updated to the adventure arc because we haven’t done any travelling since seeing Taylor Swift in LA so there wasn’t much to say. Life isn’t boring though, far from it. In the past 8 months we’ve transitioned from two years of nomadic life to living in Toronto and going to school. It was surprisingly easy. I think we’d had a good time travelling and so we were looking forward to the next chapter in life. For Yuki it was a bootcamp course for web development at Brainstation and for me it was a Masters of Architecture (MArch) program at UofT Daniel’s Faculty of Architecture.

The masters program was not as daunting as I had expected and it was actually Yuki who was getting up early and staying up late to complete an overwhelming amount of course work. I’ll remember the fall term as a time when I barely saw Yuki because we were so busy with our respective schools. Surprisingly, I found myself to be one of the more relaxed students and was thankful that I could handle the stress without getting overwhelmed.

Critique Pin-ups and Models

I remember making models in studio and overcoming some of my weaknesses. There were moments where my designs were stuck and I’d rely on my friends for inspiration and other moments where my studio professors would explain key concepts that made for great architecture.

In addition, my friend and I won our first architectural student competition on the first try! The challenge was to design a unique condo kitchen and bathroom. We proposed cupboards that could slide vertically for accessibility, a fold out bar for more counter space, and a Japanese inspired bathroom for a convenient shower and relaxing bathtub.

School was a lot of fun and I knew I’d made the right decision to leave engineering and try architecture. Unsurprisingly, the Masters of Architecture program is quite diverse with a wide range of ages and abilities. From people straight out of an undergraduate program to people like me who’ve already had a career, there’s lots of people to engage with and good friends to be had.

There were good memories in studio, a large open room where we did most of our work. It would get stupidly messy from people making models and not cleaning up after themselves but there was always something interesting to see and people around at all hours to chat with. Sometimes my friend would roll over a big screen TV to watch the hockey game on and in the winter term, we stole a couch and bench from downstairs to put in front of a TV which became the living room. Then some students added string lights and decorations and it became the years’ hangout spot.

One of my goals for grad school was to do all the things that I’d wanted to do as an undergraduate that never happened. Luckily, I discovered the friends that were into going to bars on Fridays, cooking each other food, and having parties. I made good memories watching my friend suffer through unexpected jalapenos on our nachos and drinking fishbowls.

In the winter these guys showed me where to skate outdoors during the winter and for the first time since I was in highschool, I played pond hockey. They took me on a ski trip to Blue Mountain where the freezing rain froze our jackets solid and soaked us to the bone. I got invited to a New Year’s Eve sleepover party and also Chinese hotpot and karaoke.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March a lot of my spring plans never materialized. Roadtrips were canceled and I basically stayed at home. As the situation improved, I began making outings around the neighborhood and was delighted to discover the nearby ravines were parklands. They don’t show up very well on google maps but are a great place to go walking. I was surprised my friend Ozy had never been to Evergreen Brickworks which is a fantastic example of re-purposing an old industrial quarry into a public park. I had discovered it by accident last summer while going for a run and stumbling upon its’ Sunday market.

For the most part, this spring has been a lot of video games, teaching myself Japanese, and reading books. I reread Since You’ve been Gone by Morgan Matson, one of my favourite authors, and and it inspired me to create a list of 10 things I want to do this summer. Instead of the roadtrips to the Maritimes and the eastern seaboard which I’d been hoping for, this list would be local to Toronto and surrounding area; something more manageable at the end of the pandemic. The list is mostly the things my friends have told me I should do or what I aspire for life in Ontario to include.

  1. Go on an Adventure
  2. Make someone so happy they cry
  3. Eat Chinese in Markham
  4. Visit Toronto Islands
  5. Walk the Waterfront
  6. Highpark
  7. Make something to be proud of
  8. Watch a sunrise
  9. BBQ at a cottage
  10. Have really really good ice cream

I was pleasantly excited when only two days after making the list Ozy invited me to walk the waterfront with her. It was exciting to walk along a wide pathway and see all of the architecture. From old canning buildings to repurposed docks and new condos, there was a lot to see and a lot to take in. I was surprised by how different sections reminded me of similar places I’d been. There were sections that were like the repurposed docklands under the Brooklyn Bridge fusing nature with man-made boardwalks and other places where diverse flower gardens were reminiscent of the Botanical Gardens beside the Sydney Opera House. I enjoyed how the pathway along the waterfront was extra wide in comparison to the narrow strip that is Vancouver’s seawall but also how Vancouver has a view of the mountains. We spent the afternoon walking along the waterfront and sitting on the grass to talk.

Towards the end of the day, when the sun was setting and we mutual agreed that it had been a superb day we came across busker in the gardens and found that the day was not over until the sun was completely gone.

While we haven’t been traveling we’ve still kept busy and discovered some great local places. Having set a goal for the summer, I’m excited to cross the other items off my Summer 2020 list.

Because, now I have a plan.

Adventure Arc

Keenan & Yuki’s Adventures

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