Category Archives: Survival Tips

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?

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The Ten People You Will Sit Next to on the Greyhound

Let’s face it, the Greyhound is gross.  But it’s cheap, and when you’re in a long distance relationship, or within driving distance from your home, it’s usually the better option than flying or the train.  But each time you step foot onto that confining, sticky cesspool, you play a dangerous game: who will be your seat companion for the duration of your trip?  Whether it be a an hour-long cinch or a half-day doozy, the person sitting next to you can make all the difference in your Greyhound experience.  So, with no further ado, I give you the ten people you will sit next to on the Greyhound.

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Email Etiquette

These past years have taught me many things. Of science and society, of love and mystery, of joy and panic, and of so much more. But among all these learned lessons, the one art I have truly perfected is none other than the proper technique and subtle nuances that create the perfect email. It now comes time to share what I have learned.

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Limited Advice for First Years, by a First Year

Who do you want to be? You are in a new place with new people. You could be anyone you want. This is an opportunity for a clean start. Do not create a different and inauthentic persona to play out (unless you want to); but instead, embody what is going to make you happiest. Perhaps you sought to be more extroverted in high school. Be fearless, this first year is a renaissance. Take complete advantage of it.

Who you are going to be for the following four years will be prominently sculpted by the friends and people with whom you associate yourself. The group you amalgamate into during and after orientation will change, but it sets a precedent for how others perceive you.

Let go of home. Stop checking Facebook to see your friends’ happy new lives. Turn off your phone for the first few days. Learn to love yourself, by yourself, as yourself.

Figure out your personal balance of socializing via those clubs and/or your other friends, and maintaining your benchmark grades. University is every bit as much about developing as an adult as it is learning.

Love your new home from the start. It will be uncomfortable and lonesome, you will yearn for some sense of security, but you will be thankful later if you endure the unknown.

Go to club fairs and events. Join three clubs that you would have never considered before. Learn how to dance. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Read philosophical novels and discuss them. Play tennis. Taste wine. Allow yourself to be brand new

Lastly, there is no path. The path will appear as you walk. Let go of how you think things should be, and simply appreciate this as the fresh experience that it is. Keep advancing onward, be grateful for where you are, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you eventually end up.

A Frosh’s Treasury of Helpful Articles

It looks like we’re getting meta up in this blizzy (that’s ghetto for “blog”) – we’ve got blog posts within a blog post. Below is a list of some of our favourite articles about the hows and whats of being a new student at UofT. Each article was created by a student with experience and knowledge, and each reflects the ways we’ve learnt to deal with the challenges of a new school and the new experiences that they bring. Enjoy!

Dear Fellow First-Years

This is a letter written by a student after only one month of classes. Although it is intended for others with the same level of experience, it is an excellent guide of what to expect in that crucial first month.

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

The author of this post uses over two years of experience to explain what she would have done differently in her first year, knowing what she knows now.

Some Really, Really Specific Tips for First-Years

The author of this post (me) tries to get as specific as possible when providing advice for new students. The goal is to avoid ambiguity, which leads to confusion, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of advice.

How To Have A Fantastic First Year 101

This post takes knowledge gained through years of experience and breaks it down into a usable, concise guide. Bonus: it’s full of helpful hyperlinks.

Breaking the ice…

A godsend for the socially awkward among us, this post provides tips and techniques on making new friends. Since you’ll probably meet at least 150 people over the next two weeks, this is more than a little helpful.

Some links you want to familiarize yourself with

Sentence-ending prepositions aside, this post is brilliant because it embeds what you need to know right into the page! Since so much of the world is digital these days, a guide like this is invaluable.

The No-Fear-First-Year Mini Guide to Starting at UofT

You can never have too many guides! This one provides some advice not covered in the others. And, if you’re like me, you cannever read too much about something that makes you nervous.

So, You’re Going to U of T?

This last post is less of a guide and more of a suggested mindset. I wrote it after my first year, when I knew enough to know that I did not know enough to write anything with more detail.

The (UofT) Student’s Guide to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

In a Nutshell

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an annual theatre festival in Stratford, Ontario. Although it is primarily dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare, the Festival also produces musicals, contemporary classics, and new plays. The Stratford Festival has an international reputation for the high quality of its productions. Each show, from the largest musical to the smallest comedy, is the result of the talent and work of dozens of accomplished, gifted artists and producers. The Festival runs annually from April through October, and is the highlight of the summer theatre in Southern Ontario.

Choosing a Show

The Festival programme includes 12 different and diverse plays, but unfortunately, I’ve only had the chance to see 2. That hasn’t stopped me from making this handy-dandy guide as to which of those 2 shows – Tommy and Waiting for Godot is right for you.

I like plays to be…
  • Loud
  • Raucous
  • Exciting
  • Subtle
  • Clever
  • Thought-provoking
I want to talk about the play with…
  • Parents (& other nostalgic folks)
  • Music geeks
  • Professors and classmates
  • Theatre geeks
I go to the theatre to be… Entertained Educated
My ideal souvenir is… A soundtrack A mug with a witty message
I prefer… High-brow pop culture Accessible high culture

I want to see…


Waiting for Godot

Or both!

Of course, you could also go with any of the other ten.

Buying Tickets

As you may have noticed, we at blogUT are really all about the green. That doesn’t end when it comes to theatre tickets – we’ve got the goods on getting the best (and most dramatic) bang for your buck. Play On tickets go for an even $25, but are available only for select performances and not always in advance. Don’t worry – there are plenty of Play On shows left before the festival ends. And if even that’s too much, Play On tickets are available for only $20 when you’re seeing Othello. All you need to do is prove that you are 16-29 years old with photo ID.

Getting There

Road trips and voyages out of town are often seen by students as too costly to be worth it, but the Stratford Festival has that covered. Tickets are only $10 each way on the Stratford Direct, and the bus drops you off at any of the four Festival theatres (pick-up is at Front and Simcoe at 10:00AM and 3:30PM). The buses are comfortable and roomy, and have wi-fi, a bathroom, and undercarriage storage for large bags. An added bonus: riding back into the city in a bus full of people to talk to about your experiences at the Festival. My perfect day at Stratford ended yesterday with a lovely conversation with some other festival-goers, who were sitting behind me. We traded reviews and recommendations for almost an hour.

Other Things to Do in Stratford

Only 30,000 or so people call Stratford, Ontario home, but there’s still plenty to do there. In addition to myriad book and antique stores, the best shopping prospects are the warm, inviting candy and chocolate shops that line the town’s quaint streets. A terrific place to sit down for a hot or cold drink after or before a show is Balzac’s coffee, a small chain with a few locations in Toronto as well. I had dinner at Boomers Gourmet Fries, a small burger shop with a big menu and fantastic prices. And, obviously, delicious gourmet fries. For dessert, you can head next door to Scooper’s Ice Cream, which also serves shakes and frozen yogurt at excellent prices. If you’re more of the picnicker type, I recommend staking out a bench by the water on Lakeside Drive and watching the swans and ducks go by.


Introducing – An Interview with the Creators

Last week, I received an e-mail from someone asking me to promote his new project – a website for buying and selling used textbooks, to take the place of the often inoperable TUSBE. After checking out his site and posting some books of my own, I happily agreed to promote this wonderful new resource, and also got the chance to ask co-creator Rajaie AlKorani a few questions about his endeavour.

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