U of T on Twitter

Looking to follow some campus organizations on Twitter? Look no further. Here’s your comprehensive guide to U of T on Twitter.

The basics: 

Departments: Here are a few departments with twitter accounts that I could find. Feel free to add more if you know of them in the comments.

Publications & Journals: Again, add missed ones in comments!

Buildings:

Student Life: Did I miss your club? Link it in the comments!

Health & Wellness: 

Campuses: 

Did I miss anything? Definitely, considering the zillion Twitter accounts attributed to our amazing and massive school. Feel free to add in my regretful omissions in the comments section!

First Year’s Advice Through A Third Year’s Eyes

The beginning of my September this year has been markedly different than ones past. In first year, I was an anxiety-ridden frosh, trembling as enthused, well-meaning, bandana-wearing leaders thronged my car and carried my luggage to my residence room in Whitney Hall, and wondering without a clue what the upcoming year had in store. In second year, my parents dropped me off at my new apartment, with my father carrying up masses of my furniture in a Herculean feat and, again, I wondered, what this new step of living truly on my own would be like.

This year was different. This year, I crushed my roommate in a hug, brought just a few bags up the stairs, and then jumped happily on my bed, home again in my little apartment in the big city. This year, I ambled along St. George St., passing a confused, smiling mass of frosh with a smile to match. This year, I’m settled at the University of Toronto, no longer foreign to me, but familiar, warm, and my own. Continue reading “First Year’s Advice Through A Third Year’s Eyes”

2012 Final Exam Survival Guide: We’re Doing Exams Again, Guys… WHO’S EXCITED?

Dears readers, it’s EXAM TIME AGAIN!! I know we’re all super, super excited at the prospect of long hours in the library, hand cramps while writing one-hour essays, hilariously confusing multiple choice questions, and all that crazy fun stuff. To celebrate everyone’s favourite time of year, here is my obligatory exams advice post, which has 10 rules for exam success (or at least, avoiding emotional meltdowns/procrastination).

10. As much as possible, don’t study in Robarts. Robarts is a soul-sucking, mentally-, physically-, emotionally-, spiritually-draining succubus. Yes, there are long opening hours; yes, there are food and books and really stressed out people who are theoretically in the same boat as you (but somehow – and perhaps this is just a side-effect of the demonic environment of Robarts Mansion – competing to study better or more than you), but there are not enough windows, and there is not enough oxygen, and the bottom line is that it’s a sad, scary place, and though being there may be necessary to push through some serious cramming, you should find a happier study spot if you can.

9. Don’t try to eat your notes. You can’t study everything: you cannot eat your textbook, you cannot swallow your syllabus, you cannot consume your lecture notes (I say all of this from experience of trying it… just joking – I’ve never tried to eat my notes. You shouldn’t either. In the interest of honesty, I concede that I have considered it at high moments of desperation). You aren’t going to cover it all; just keep reviewing and have realistic expectations for yourself. Grasp concepts and what you need to know, and don’t pressure yourself to know it all.

8. Continue to be a human being. You can’t study constantly… you just can’t. Don’t schedule yourself to study nonstop for 24 hours; it’s not a productive or healthy plan. Allot realistic amounts of time for studying, so that you don’t feel guilty about not fulfilling your own astronomical study time quotas. Do things that aren’t studying, at least a little bit, including eating, sleeping, working out, going outside, interacting with other humans, watching TV, showering, etc. You can’t study every second of the day; it’s best to spend some of that time making a conscious effort to uphold your sanity, or what remains of it.

7. Turn off your Internet. Better yet, turn off your computer. Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr will destroy your study efforts. And the worst part is that, by virtue of being on the computer, somewhere in the back of your mind, you’re going to believe that you’ve been studying – you have been staring at a screen, doing nothing particularly fun (e.g. watching a YouTube playlist of weird quirks on Google Maps; looking at mildly entertaining GIFs from old TV shows you forgot about; stalking that guy from your second grade swimming class who recently got some tattoos, etc.). My roommate always laughs when I say that I’m taking away my own Internet privileges, but it’s a very, very necessary personal punishment or else my hours of studying will melt into hours of looking at pictures of puppies (arguably an excellent way to spend my time, but I digress).

6. Know your study stipulations. Do you study well in groups? Do you like bouncing ideas off people in your class, or does studying with them make you nervous? Are you better off in a library, or in a café? Should you be re-writing, re-reading, or both? You know how you’re most productive (or you’re in the course of figuring that out), and you shouldn’t mess with the formula! Sometimes it’s really hard to find an angle from which to begin studying; start with what you know, instead of stressing about how you’ve forgotten how to study. You know how, even if you’re overwhelmed; just start, and you’ll make the necessary adjustments along the way.

5. Beware the exam format. Essays? Multiple choice? Short answer? Cheat sheets? These sorts of specifics are the keys to the exam – they tell you whether concepts or content are more important, how to study, and what to be ready for. Assuming this information is available to you, or can be easily discerned, keep it in the front of your mind and let it shape how and what you study. Cheat sheets are particularly tricky – don’t over-rely on them or use them for a ‘data dump’ on your exam, but use them as a study tool, and don’t forget to use them during the exam.

4. Don’t overdose on caffeine. Or, at least, know your caffeine limits. If you can handle six Americanos with extra shots of espresso to keep you rolling, that’s cool (although I don’t recommend it and I am fairly willing to assume that a physician would second that), but if three cups of coffee will have you dancing for an hour (followed by an hour of twitching in the fetal position), maybe you should only have two. Just a thought! Another piece of advice is to curb some of your coffee intake with tea (caffeine-free, people!).

3. DON’T PROCRASTINATE. That’s it. Try not to procrastinate as much as possible – you will, but try not to, and try to be aware that you’re doing it (as I am right now). That’s all.

2. Prep a really elaborate, choreographed post-exam dance. Consider making t-shirts, hiring back-up dancers, a band, fire-breathers, jugglers, etc. You want to exit that last exam with a really epic dance or jump. This is your moment. No one is going to judge you. Channel all that pent-up stress energy (or, as my roommate and I brilliantly dubbed it, ‘stressergy’) into an unforgettable exit jig, cheer, full-on choreographed number, song, jump, or otherwise. Everyone is in the same headspace as you, and they’re probably going to understand and respect this act of pure, uninhibited glee (and if they don’t, who cares – YOU’RE DONE!). I’m still finalizing my plans, but I can tentatively say that the song “Glad You Came” is a serious contender in terms of soundtrack and raising the roof, over-sized neon sunglasses, and high-fiving a row of students are all also under consideration.

1. Don’t write a blogUT article when you should be studying. Whoops.

Best of luck on exams to all! Keep happy and sane. You’re going to do great; you’re going to live through it; the end is near, and very sunny.

Welcome Out Of Hibernation!

Welcome out of hibernation U of T students, and welcome to the home stretch. It’s dangerously beautiful out – so much sun can be damaging to our fragile GPAs – and all the quads on campus are brimming with study picnics and pale, smiling faces. It seems to me that when spring starts to cautiously creep in, a veil of winter-induced gloom that I didn’t even realize was there is lifted from my mind, and the warmth and brightness puts me in a giddy mood that not even a slew of essays and exams can ruin.

However, every season is accompanied by its own little anxieties: work in the summer, back to school in the autumn, heavy workload in the winter, and then there’s spring. Spring is a time of exams and final assignments being due, but spring is also a time of planning. Spring is a season of decisions. As my friend lamented to me this week, the difficult, adult, pain-staking decisions never seem to end. It’s when we get our summer jobs or plan our summer trips, decide whether we’re going back to hometowns or staying here, enroll in summer school or apply to study abroad. And planning, of course, is stressful – whether we’re waiting on a job interview or seeking the right class to take or trying to budget for next year to figure out how much we need to make this summer.

Between planning for summer and finishing up school,  I always wish I could just pause everything for a moment so I can catch up to myself, as all the things as I have to do get away from me and the checkboxes of my endless to-do lists pile up on one another.  And with the sun outside, the friends in the quad, and the warm, happy weather, procrastination is still inevitable.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about plans and decisions; and what I’ve come up with certainly reflects the lazy glee that seems to characterize my response to the spring. It’s a brilliant philosophy, really: it will all get done. Stay on top of school, even if you’re writing your essays in the great outdoors, and advocate for yourself to make your summer plans come together. Try not to panic as summer plans are often necessarily made last minute. And most importantly, don’t be afraid if your plans change. That’s the nature of plans – they change. Whether it’s 3 months before or 2 days, plans have a tendency to fall apart and completely reconstruct and look different altogether. Put yourself first.  Get your work done.  Stay happy in the irresistible spring weather – somehow, everything will come together beautifully.

 

Health Care: Today’s Cuts, Tomorrow’s Costs

“Medicare is something we’ve always been proud of, and it’s important for all of us to ensure that we don’t allow it to deteriorate,” asserts Munira Lila, co-chair of Partners for Change and co-organizer of upcoming health care conference “Today’s Cuts, Tomorrow’s Costs.”

Medicare is indeed an issue of acute concern for Canadians. It is a major source of national pride and a central country-wide debate. This conference, organized by hard-working, motivated U of T Health Studies students, aims to open up a discourse about potential changes to the health care system, in light of the current $16 billion deficit in Ontario which is prompting discussion of cuts and privatization.

The conference is a joint collaboration in funding and support by the Ontario Health Coalition and Partners for Change. It is being organized by students in Professor David Langille’s UNI211 course, Canadian Health Policy, as a Health Advocacy project. Munira explains, “In short, we are at a stage where funding for health care from the government is going down and, naturally, it’s affecting our health care system – the conference will be about critically assessing the impacts of the many options that have been proposed.”

The conference boasts an impressive line-up of speakers, as Munira notes, “We have very educated, interesting and well-informed individuals coming to this presentation and they will present their critical perspectives on this issue.” Lecturers include Paul Hamel, Director of Health Studies at U of T; Danit Fischtein, from Canadian Doctors for Medicare; Natalie Mehra, from the Ontario Health Coalition; and Lynn Raskin, Executive Director of the South Riverdale Community Health Center. These experts are certain to bring forth interesting and informed perspectives on the potential outcomes of proposed changes to the health care system.

The conference is open to the public, and students are especially encouraged to come out and participate in this important and timely discussion. Munira comments, “This event caters to all students and all people, for that matter. This event is open to everyone because this discussion on health care will have an effect on every single person in Ontario. It extends further than access to health services – this whole debate sheds lights on what exactly the priorities of the government are at this point, and how that influences the lives of students and the working members of society.”

This event presents a great opportunity for students to learn about a critical issue, and to support fellow students who have shown initiative and interest in their effort to bring this discussion to campus. Ultimately, Munira explains, the project aims to invite students into an open dialogue: “We want to provide students with the tools to critically assess what is happening in politics, and how it will have an impact on everyone, and maybe encourage a discussion about what we can do as citizens of Canada.”

Health Care: Today’s Cuts, Tomorrow’s Costs: A Conference on the Future of Public Health Care in Ontario takes place at Hart House on Saturday, March 24th, 2012 from 1pm to 4pm, followed by a networking reception from 4pm to 6pm. More information can be found on the Facebook event, here.

Interview: Project X

On February 16, 2012, blogUT Featured Blogger Danielle Klein participated in a group interview with the stars of “Project X,” Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown, at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto.

The title of the upcoming Todd Phillips film Project X leaves much to the imagination. The vaguely titled movie is the director’s latest addition to his pantheon of bromance epics, following three students as they attempt to throw a party with enough impact to render them “cool” in the view of their high school peers. The plot of the group of stereotypical geeks ineptly throwing a rager in order to ascend social rankings and achieve the ever-salient dream of popularity in high school is not new, but Project X, as its experimental name implies, sets out to take this plot in a new and unapologetic direction.

The movie stars Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown as its three central protagonists who host an unforgettable party complete with dancing, beer bongs, lots of drugs, and non-stop jaw-dropping moments.  Referring to the more disturbing behaviour exhibited by the teenagers at the party, as the house is essentially destroyed over the course of night, Mann joked, “I think it’s a comedy until you turn 35.”

The marketing of Project X has been unique, as audiences of students have been invited to free screenings for months prior to its wide release, as well as to parties afterwards, some of which featured live music. Brown mused, “It’s interesting, because Project X is like an event film, but it’s almost like a small-scale disaster movie on one block… It’s as if you took this disaster and you threw it on a block, and then you mixed that with the found footage genre and then you cranked it all up…” He added, “… it really is an awesome experience to be part of that, and watching the experience in the audience is a little unnerving for me personally, but seeing the audience go nuts is a vindication and a thrill for all the work and effort. It’s pretty damn cool.”

Todd Phillips went to lengths to try to achieve thorough authenticity for the party in the film. Brown explained, “He personally cast all 300 extras – he handpicked interesting people that would surprise him on set.”

The environment of the party was meticulously detailed, as Cooper noted, “A lot of movies you see have extras and backgrounds that feel like a movie set… the key is attention to detail. I remember him focusing on how many red cups there were – the little details that end up making the movie feel more real like the montage scenes.”

Achieving authenticity was more than aesthetic, however; much of the filming was done in long takes with extras dancing to music around the actors, so that the director could find humour within the footage. Mann explains, “We did a lot of long takes especially with, like, the dancing scenes to find those spontaneous moments.” Cooper elaborates, “Those montages… those were, like, literally there were times when they would like turn on the music, they would send us through the crowd and just, like, go crazy. That’s it – there was apple juice instead of beer but, like, we were beer bonging, you know, apple juice.”

Brown laughs, “I can’t think of a movie with more realistic dancing.”

The extras became acquainted with one another, throwing parties of their own on the weekend and fostering a fun, energetic environment on set that is tangible in watching the movie. Mann comments, “We believed that we were having a party. We had a DJ on set and he was playing between takes so all the extras were dancing all the time anyway. It was harder to play the scenes when I had to be the party-pooper.”

True still to reality, the movie shows the progression of the cast as they grow more haggard and tired over the course of the night. Cooper explains, “The house was getting destroyed and we shot that whole party in order – so like everyday, it got exhausting and I looked like crap and felt like it – sweaty, we had makeup that felt like dirt all over your face…” Brown added, laughing, “I would not recommend throwing a five week party of your own.”

It’s very clear that the cast had a great time making the movie, enjoying the party atmosphere and transferring that high energy into the final product. Mann gushed, “We had such an amazing time making it, and just the energy on set was always so high. It’s so fast-paced and high-energy the whole time. A lot of people say they’re exhausted after they watch it, which is kind of accurate just because it’s so much in such a little amount of time.”

Project X presents an out-of-control party movie, depicting absurd situations in the midst of an authentic party atmosphere honed by smart filmmaking and attention to detail. The party at the heart of the film, it seems, reflects one that took place, albeit with at least less substance abuse, in actuality, on the set.

Project X opens wide on March 2. 

I Live in Toronto: A Profoundly Delayed Reaction

Over the past few weeks, for the first time, I really feel like I live in Toronto. Granted I am about a year and a half or so late in this realization, but I’ve always felt like a student who comes to Toronto for school, and leaves to go back home to Ottawa for all breaks and all of summer. Recently, however, I’ve found myself more and more aware of my new, blossoming native status here in Toronto.

The events that prompted this revelation, are, in my view, not necessarily the happiest of circumstances. There is, first of all, the mouse in my apartment. My roommate and I have been dealing with this burglar since the beginning of the first semester, who breaks into our home all too frequently to eat scraps of cheese and rice cakes off the ground, and scurry around in the elements of our stove. At first, I naturally came up with an elaborate back-story for the mouse, imagining that he was a tough city mouse, probably part of the mouse mafia, come to torment me ceaselessly just to turn over a little profit to the intimidating head mouse who constantly has a cigar… or something. My roommate and I cursed him and, every time I saw him, I would retreat to higher ground. But something has changed in the past few appearances of the mouse – although, admittedly, I still tend to jump to the nearest elevated surface in his presence and send out a text cry for help to a few friends – I’ve felt less a panic attack, and more a familiar feeling of dread. I’ve even begun to call him Stuart, after the fun-loving and charming Stuart Little, and we’ve reached a state of frustrated, cooperative tolerance.

Secondly, I went to the dentist here in Toronto. I hate the dentist – and this is a big debate between my roommate and I, who claims that hating the dentist is totally weird and most people love the dentist and, just as an aside, she is still wrong – and therefore was dreading going. So I went to the dentist, and it was your average dental appointment but, when I left and made an appointment for my next cleaning, I realized I had established my first doctor here in Toronto.

In one of my lectures this week, my professor reflected that it is amazing how quickly people become natives where they settle. When I walk down Bloor Street, everywhere I look I have my own memories – good, bad, inspiring, absolutely far-fetched. When I walk down Harbord, past all the familiar storefronts, I feel like I’m among weird, vaguely loveable neighbours. On St. George, as I’ve said before, I’m among my fellow soldiers on the U of T battlefield, struck by familiar senses of camaraderie and competition. It’s a wonderful feeling that, whichever way I walk – towards campus or towards my apartment – I feel like I’m walking somewhere that I belong. I’m walking in the landscape of my own history.

I think that, for those of us coming to Toronto from somewhere else, whether from somewhere across the globe or as close as a town in Ontario, that realization – that ‘Toronto’ moment, where you claim this city and this school as your own – comes at different times. It’s a subtle feeling, an instinct, but one that surprises you when you become aware of it. It’s not just an idea anymore; Toronto, the Big City, a hazy notion of tall buildings and busy people. It’s tangible, it’s living, and it’s, you realize, yours. For me, it took a mouse and a dentist to really cement this as my home – not just somewhere I visit for school, but somewhere I live.