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Phil Reiter

senior researcher IDLab, imec research group at Antwerp University, Belgium

Phil Reiter
“While the top sights, attractions, and cuisine of a place offer enjoyment, it is the personal experiences and connections with the people you encounter that leave a lasting impact.”

Canada offers both city experiences and outdoor adventures

Originally from Montréal, Phil studied there before working in Toronto as a technical lead in semiconductor design verification engineering and later as a business communications manager. Seeking new horizons, he pursued a master’s degree in Machine Learning and Deep Learning in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2019, where he fell in love with the European way of living. In December 2020, he made a bold career move and joined IDLab, relocating to Antwerp, in Belgium.

Adjusting to language differences, he embraced the opportunity to learn the local language and enjoys exploring and connecting with new people in Belgium’s multilingual environment, aided by convenient travel options.

niagara falls
Niagara Falls

Living abroad alters one’s perspective

Leaving Canada was a turning point for Phil, opening his eyes to a world beyond his limited cultural experiences. Although initially for business, moving out of Canada and traveling in Europe and Asia broadened any preconceptions. Observing the histories and complexities of other cities, learning different languages, and immersing himself in diverse cultures have transformed his thinking and increased his repertoire of life solutions.

Leaving his hometown and going to a new place asked of Phil to be flexible and ready to relearn things he took for granted. He faced new challenges and opportunities without a family or friends safety net. However, that’s how Phil discovered the real takeaway of living in another country: not the photos of famous sites, but the experiential growth and the people connections made through this journey, leading him to think in new ways. He had to reconsider his Canadian way of life and learn from different cultures, which was enriching and very rewarding.

toronto - city skyline on lake ontario
Toronto - City skyline on Lake Ontario

The taste of authentic culinary heritage

Phil fondly recalls Québec’s traditional Cabanes à Sucre yearly festival in late March and early April, where the sweet taste of maple syrup mingles with music and laughter, embodying the essence of Québecois culture. The rustic cabins, reminiscent of years gone by, open their doors to the public, hosting grand feasts of crêpes, tourtières (meat pies), baked potatoes, puffed omelets, ham, baked beans, sausages, and more, all drizzled in maple syrup. Communal, picnic-style tables adorned with old-fashioned dinnerware and cutlery add to the charm of the experience. Guests can try making maple taffy in the snow and enjoy the company of musicians playing traditional tunes.

Another Canadian delicacy from Québec is poutine, a comfort food consisting of fries layered with cheese curds and doused in gravy, with newer variations offering additional toppings. Phil recommends starting with the classic version to savor the authentic flavors and appreciate this hearty Canadian staple.

Must do

Take a stroll through the artful Kensington Market neighbourhood and indulge in diverse culinary delights in culticultural Toronto.

BlurHashyukon - kluane ice cave
Yukon - Kluane Ice Cave
poutine - a classic french canadian dish
Poutine - A classic French Canadian dish
quebec - mont-tremblant
Quebec - Mont-Tremblant

Explore Canada’s vast natural beauty and rich culture

Canada stands as a nation abundant in diverse landscapes and cultures, offering an array of experiences from coast to coast. Here nature’s magic is everywhere, from the Atlantic coast’s fishing communities to the mountainous landscapes along the Pacific. Metropolitan centers like Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver host many cultural activities and events and feature restaurants and markets that offer diverse and delicious food options.

After trying some city experiences, be sure to venture outdoors. Go camping in national or provincial parks and enjoy roasting marshmallows by the campfire at night. Experience a Canadian rite of passage by portaging a canoe or kayak through a forest. Cross a frozen lake with snowshoes or hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding. For a seamless access to remote areas, there are ride-sharing services, like Parkbus, which can take people from the city to the wilderness.

banff national park - mount rundle
Banff National Park - Mount Rundle
new brunswick-nova scotia - hopewell rocks
New Brunswick-Nova Scotia - Hopewell Rocks
prince edward island - cavendish cliffs
Prince Edward Island - Cavendish Cliffs
maple sugar taffy making
Maple sugar taffy making

A visit to Canada would not be complete without witnessing the magnificent natural wonder of Niagara Falls. It is about a two-hour drive, bus, or train ride from Toronto, Ontario. The falls are very wide, and more than 2,000 cubic meters of water flow over them every second! Explore passages behind the water and take boat tours to get close to the Falls. In winter, the falls freeze, creating a stunning sight.

Near Niagara Falls is Niagara-on-the- Lake, Canada’s wine country. It offers lovely places to stay and enjoyable cycling tours of the wineries in the summertime, making it a wonderful way to end any trip to the Falls.