The No-Fear-First-Year Mini Guide to Starting at UofT
When I was eight years old I loved everything about summer. That is, until those “back-to-school” commercials started popping up everywhere (why they air those commercials as soon as we have our first taste of summer, I’ll never know.) As soon as I saw those advertisements, I was reminded of the horrors of going back to school—but that was before my education included lectures about movies and playing beer pong. So, for those of us lucky enough to go to UofT, seeing a “back-to-school” advertisement no longer needs to fill us with mortal dread. Instead, we can embrace this time; September is reborn as a time for Toga parties, being reunited with old friends, and even making new ones.
While many readers will have already passed Freshman year, I’m sure there are those of you who are still a bit nervous about heading off into the direction of academia. For those lucky few, I have prepared the following crash-course on how to spend your first few weeks at UofT.
1. Don’t freak out.
You’ve signed up for your classes. You’ve paid your tuition (hopefully!). You know where you are going to live. Beyond that, don’t worry over anything just yet. Just because the anti-calendar says your class is going to suck, doesn’t mean it actually will. Just because you don’t know anyone in your class, doesn’t mean you can’t make some new friends– or at least meet someone to share notes with. Don’t listen to people when they tell you to just “turn back while you can!”. You obviously did well enough in High School to get into Uni, so there is no reason you can’t succeed once you get there.
2. Seriously, don’t freak out.
All of those things you are worried about—making friends, tests, term papers, parties, getting lost—they haven’t happened yet.
3. Stock up on free stuff while you can.
For those of you living away from the nest for the first time, please take my advice and hoard away any/all free things from the homestead while you can. So feel free and scurry away some popcorn, pens, and Pantene shampoo. Stamps, band-aids, Tylenol: these are things that may magically restock at home, but they will not do so in your residence. Especially for those who, like me, will not be returning home until December.
4. Resist relying on the friends you knew from High School.
It doesn’t matter if Billy-Bob from your high school science class is conveniently in your first year English course. Try not to just rely on him for notes, or fun lecture shenanigans. That first class is a great opportunity for you to, you know, meet new people. Crazy! As in people you have not already met, nor are related to you. So you can’t count your Mom, even if she is also taking the course with you for whatever reason. Shy? That first class is a great ice-breaker. It is highly likely that the majority of those around you are in the exact same boat—so now’s your chance to impress them with your confidence and introduce yourself. Even if they may not want a “new buddy”, most people wouldn’t turn down someone they could potentially get notes from while they are sick. So go ahead, interact with those around you. If they are taking the same course as you, you guys already have something to talk about. Hoorah!
(If you are living away from home, resist calling your friends right away. It will likely make you more homesick, and distract you from potential new friends. I’m not saying completely cut yourself off, just that you shouldn’t spend your froshie experience Skyping in your rez room or attached to your cell.)
5. You are in Toronto. Take advantage.
You didn’t decide to go to a University in the middle of nowhere, so don’t act like you did. September is TIFF—Toronto International Film Festival– season, so go out and look for your favourite celebrity shopping on Bloor Street, or leaving the Four Seasons hotel. Better yet, go and actually watch a movie at the TIFF. Have a coffee on Queen Street West wearing your favourite indie/hippie scarf and fedora. Take a jog through High Park, or take your camera there and snap some shots while the weather is nice. Need some ideas? BlogUT is here for a reason, and I’m sure if you survey the recent posts you will be hit with an idea that seems interesting. Use the library wi-fi, and search the internet to see what is going on in the city this weekend. Going to school at U of T means more than just sitting in a lecture hall, doodling on paper. It means that once you are done doodling, you can just go do.