Category Archives: Opinion

From Me to You: Be Skeptical of News Outlet Credibility


Back in high school, our English classes gave particular attention to credibility: how to be a credible writer and how to find credible sources. I never really thought much of it. It’s a lesson, it’s homework, it’s an assignment. Once done, it’s over. I probably won’t look back on it again. But here I am, with the sudden ringing of my high school teacher’s voice telling me to be skeptical of what I hear, see, and read.

Friday night was when word on Paris being attacked was plastered all over news outlets and social media. I immediately felt sorrow for Paris, and even shared a couple of grieving photos and statuses myself. The next morning, Facebook installed that new “Paris Profile Picture” update. I didn’t do it. Not because I had anything against Paris, but because I forgot about the other countries in the world experiencing the same hardships that were in many ways worse than Paris. A couple days later, there were some posts on my newsfeed about #PrayForTheWorld. It included Japan and their earthquake, Beirut and their suicide bombings. But what about Syria? What about Palestine?

I’m not one to delve myself into politics and world issues, but the pressing matter is the credibility of our journalists and news outlets. We’re clearly missing half the story, maybe even three quarters of it. What about the rest of the world? And even if they do report on it, chances are, what they say is skewered. I’ve seen the comments and even the petitions going on in an attempt to stop Syrian refugees from coming to Canada. Why haven’t they reported a positive light on Syrian Refugees? Does the world truly believe Syria is full of terrorists? What about Palestine? What about Palestine?

Many people (I’ll narrow it down to North Americans for the time being) are unaware of the real situation in Palestine. That has to do with our search engines, with Google. When I tried to Google what was going on in Palestine, I got a whole load of propaganda videos. It took me awhile to actually find the real stuff, with big help to my very educated peers of course. But the entire Google fiasco made me think to myself, why is the truth hidden in a bed of lies? Google isn’t as free as we think it is (we actually had a discussion about this in ENG287). It’s an American company you should be skeptical of. Extremely skeptical of, if I may reiterate. Unless you try really hard, you won’t be able to find the credible sources you’re looking for. Below is a video Banksy filmed on the situation in Palestine:

It’s crazy if you think about it. Banksy’s creation and video of Dismaland was covered by a variety of news outlets and social medias, so why hasn’t this video received the views it should be?

When I was riding on the subway this morning, I felt a surge of fear. I wondered, “what if this subway blows up? what if this subway gets hijacked? I’m underground. I can’t send any text messages. No one will know what happened to me.” And it was at that precise moment that I realized, I was succumbing to the war on terror. I let the news instill a fear in me that I was going to die by the hands of a terrorist. How could I let the news do this to me?

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post now. All I can do is ask you to be skeptical for the right reasons. Read the news, but be skeptical. We only see, hear and read what they want us to see, hear and read. Use the intelligence and knowledge you were given to make the right conclusions. Don’t let others make a conclusion for you. Don’t be a follower of social trends.

Competitiveness: How It Can Make or Break You


Ah, competitiveness. How we’ve all had those moments when we wanted to be better than your friend, your class, or maybe even the entire school. The spirit of competition and that lingering sense of superiority exists within all of us. It’s no surprise that in a place like a university, competition is in everyone. It’s really how we utilize that drive that ultimately forms the dividing line between pushing yourself to succeed and running yourself into the ground. Continue reading Competitiveness: How It Can Make or Break You

So You’re in Second Year, Huh?


Now that the whirlwind of craziness and confusion that is first year is over, you’re left to survey the damage and start planning the next one. Right about now you’ve all picked courses to fit your shiny new majors, but graduation is closer than you think, and now’s a great time to start looking into your options afterwards.

You obviously don’t need to make any decisions – most third and fourth years I know still have no clue what they want to do – but you should start preparing for the possibilities. Pick a couple grad schools, preferably the ones you think will be the most difficult to get into, and print off their applications. Most grad schools post their applications in July or August and take them off their websites in the late fall or early winter, so try to do this over the next few months. Take a look through them and see what they’re looking for. How much do they stress academics? Extracurriculars? Standardised testing? At the same time, don’t forget to look into a few scholarships you might want for graduate schools, as their expectations can be very different from what the schools themselves are looking for.

At the same time, look into what you’ll need to get the jobs you’re considering. For me, this was always the most overwhelming part of things, but luckily the Career Center can help. Their Get Experience Program will guide you through the whole process; you can meet with someone who will go over your resume, and help you identify its strengths and weaknesses. They will also tell you how to figure out what you need to do to research your chosen field, find internships and professional experience, and even put you into contact with alumni who are successful at the job you may want. Once you know what qualifications you need for the jobs you’re considering, you can tailor part-time jobs and even courses to give you an advantage upon graduation.

Most importantly, don’t rule anything out. You may be absolutely sure you want nothing to do with grad school right now, but a lot can change in two years. Make sure you don’t close any doors.

Regretting UofT? Don’t.

Let’s start off by saying UofT is an amazing institution to begin with, but it’s no secret university can be somewhat soul sucking. I know there are some of you who have regrets about choosing UofT, or feel as though university is not for you. Perhaps some of you want to transfer to a smaller city, or a more social university. Yes UofT can be very daunting and secluded, even with all the efforts the university makes to get you involved. I’m sure there are hundreds of student feeling the same weight and loneliness at UofT as you. Living in a huge city like Toronto certainly has it’s ups and downs.

Ups: Opportunities are everywhere and it’s calling your name. Any interests/passions you may have (music, clubbing, life-drawing, thrift-shopping) or not sure what your passions are, it’s out there. And last but not least, absorbing culture and diversity. Toronto prides itself on its diversity and it makes you a more humble person without you even knowing it. For example, if you are in the LGBT community there are hundreds of organizations/events that you can partake in. Not every place in the world would have that. Now the trick is finding where all these amazing things are.

Downs: Having a million things to do but not knowing where to go or what to do. Being invisible in a sea of people. Nobody caring who you are or what you do. Highschool for me sucked simply because it was not what I expected and I felt out of place and alone. There were no such thing as cliques or rumours at my high-school because nobody cared or knew you well enough to play the stereotypes. A lot of people from my residence who came from small towns, amazed me with their stories of how Americanized their schools were. You know that whole party, jocks, nerds, mean girls, scandalous gossips thing. And a part of me has always wanted that since that is what I am conditioned to expect through Americanized programming. But it was mostly community that I wanted, and I came into university expecting to meet people like myself, get connected, and feel a sense of community.

However that has not been the case yet, since UofT is quite isolating. The hardest thing at UofT besides the overbearing amount of work, is the lack of social-life. Funny thing is we knew coming to UofT would mean forfeiting our social-life. Even moving into residence was not that helpful since everyone is busy with their own lives and not everyone makes the effort. It’s difficult to network and build connections in such a vast city of over 5 million people and even harder if you were a commuter. All I have to say to you guys is don’t worry. Truth of the matter is, you are getting one of the best educations in the world, and though it’s challenging and it’s a lot of hard work, it makes you a stronger, more well-crafted person. The key is to find balance between work and play.

I know everyone says this, but seriously, it doesn’t matter if you graduate with a 4.0 GPA if you’re lacking the communication skills you need to nail an interview to land the job.

Study Spotlight: Noranda Earth Sciences Library

The view of the Noranda Earth Sciences Library from its second floor
The inside view of the Noranda Earth Sciences Library from its second floor

And.. we’re back with Study Spotlight! Last time I reviewed Knox College’s Caven Library ( check out the hyperlink!) For the second post, I’ll be reviewing the Noranda Earth Sciences Library located on 5 Bancroft Avenue.

Where is the Earth Sciences Library?

The Noranda Earth Sciences Library is a little gem situated on the second floor of the Earth Sciences Buildings. If you’re like me and know absolutely nothing about this area, it’s basically a collection of closely spaced buildings that all fall under the UofT code of ES (you may be familiar with ES 1050, the auditorium many first year courses are held in). Once you enter through the front doors, there’ll be a sign to direct you to the library through the next flight of stairs.

The Noranda Earth Sciences Library is also cornered between New College (that’s my college, holla!) and the McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Quietness: 8.1/10

For a library, it is quiet but it’s definitely not the most quiet library I’ve been to; there’s no harm in a library that isn’t completely silent though! I feel comfortable breathing, sneezing, coughing and occasionally whispering to my peers. A chill environment to be in.

Spot Availability: 8.6/10

Not a lot of students know about this little library so I can always count on there being a seat for me. There are both individual studying cubicles (on the second floor) as well as a number of group study tables (on the ground floor).

Resources (computer specific): 7/10

I’m not taking any courses in the Earth Sciences disciple so I haven’t (or will ever) use the books but there does seem to be a vast selection. There’s also a good amount of computers available for use which I have used previously. The computers are spaced enough so that each individual has their own space to take/annotate notes on a sheet of paper whilst using the computer.

Aesthetic: 8.3/10

The Noranda Earth Science Library definitely has that retro vibe to it with its dulled polychromatic colour scheme of purple and green. The floors are all carpeted and the furniture is made of a light-coloured wood. But there are two aspects of it that make the library visually appealing: the architecture and sunlight (see photo above).

The library is round with “two storeys”. So on the first floor, you have your computers and group study tables while on the second floor, you have your independent studying cubicles with a flight of stairs to bridge the two. The design creates a dynamic within this small library with the ground floor having a sound threshold higher than that of the second floor.

Because of the location and round design of the library, it is enveloped by a panel of windows allowing maximum sunlight to enter. Nothing’s better than a good dose of Vitamin D!

Overall: 8.2/10

The Noranda Earth Sciences Library is definitely one of my go-to libraries when I’m in the area. It may take a bit of time to initially find it, but it’s definitely worth it. A quiet secluded place to study.

For more information, visit

Bonus: the Earth Sciences building also has a green house open for student viewing!

Study Spotlight: Knox College’s Caven Library

classic photo of Knox College Walkway
A classic photo of the beautiful outdoor walkway at Knox College (59 St. George Street)

Introducing… Study Spotlight! Study Spotlight is a newly established series of blog posts focusing on different places to study. For the first post, I’ll be personally reviewing Knox College’s Caven Library.

What is Knox College?

Knox College runs from King’s College Circle to St. George Street, having entrances/exits to both. In a nut shell, it isn’t like the 7 other colleges offered at U of T. Although there are some graduate students affiliated with Knox, I can say there are no undergraduate students that are tied to it. Big difference already, right? Knox is also much smaller in size and resources: there’s a small kitchen for eating, and located upstairs is a small church and the library. To the left and right of the beautiful walkway photographed above, there are courtyards with benches and flowers.

Quietness: 9.2/10

It’s incredibly quiet. Each time I come back, I feel guilty for pulling the zippers on my backpack, pencil and tablet case. There’s little whispering and the noise from outside doesn’t find its way in. The library itself is pretty small so there aren’t any doors for people to constantly open and close. The entire college is actually pretty quiet thanks to the silence-enforcing admins.

Spot Availability: 8.7/10

The library isn’t very packed. I guess it has a a lot to do with the fact that not a lot of people know about this gem. Out of the many times I’ve visited, I can always find a spot. Seats are organized in trios with a couple of the larger study group tables situated near the front desk.

Resources: ??

I’ve never used any of the library’s resources except for their WiFi. There seems to be a lot of books, but all probably specific to the graduate programs they offer at Knox. There are also a couple of computers for use; probably about nine.

Aesthetic: 8.5/10

If the above photo wasn’t enough to make you like Knox, maybe this will help:


The Caven Library has most of its furniture made of wood and the floors are all carpeted. The ceiling is raised high, with a set of chandeliers hanging. The lights definitely illuminate a warm cast on the library with little sunlight penetrating through the windows.

Overall: 8.7./10

As a life science student, Knox is a really convenient place for me to hang around. It’s close to where all my classes are: the convocation hall, medical sciences building, sid smith, etc. I can have lunch either in the walkway (if I can find a seat and it’s warm enough) or in their small kitchen. And of course, I can do my favourite thing there too: study!!!

For more information, visit

A secret to happiness for you and your friends?

While walking inside the bookstore at Bay and Bloor in search of a new book to read this Saturday evening, I happened to walk over one of my favourite classics, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  As I opened to a random page, I was turned to one policy that really significantly improved my happiness and quality of life since I first opened the book.  The policy?

Continue reading A secret to happiness for you and your friends?