Category Archives: UT Life

Words of Wisdom Every UTSG Student Should Know

Having these bits and pieces of advice rattling around in my addled brain is driving me crazy. So I thought I’d make a list. No order, no rhyme or reason, just a straight dope talk on all the things I think every UTSG student should know.

On Condoms

University students are broke enough as it is. There’s no need to waste money on condoms when they’re being thrown at you from every which way. Have a couple of minutes between lectures? Stop into SEC for an inconspicuous brown paper bag of the goods. Heck, while you’re at it, ask them to throw in some lube! You can never have too big a stash of it.

If you live in residence, ask your Don for some if it’s an ‘emergency’ (whatever that means). I mean, come on. My residence offers mint-flavoured condoms ‘for emergency use only’. WHAT EMERGENCY WOULD REQUIRE A MINT-FLAVOURED CONDOM ONLY?

I’ve also found free condoms offered at Health Services at the Koffler Centre and at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Bedford. By the way, Thursdays are U of T Student Days at this location, so bring your TCard for 20% off!

On Student Protests

While surfing the Internet to find things to put on this list, I found that this one came up again and again. It seems like a lot of people see university as a good time to channel one’s inner activist.

Find an issue you’re passionate about and go for it. You’re going to school in (or near) the biggest city in Canada – chances are there’s some sort of organization working on a protest for your chosen cause.

And I assure you, you don’t have to walk the streets naked or hack your way into government servers to have your voice heard. Heck, you don’t have to leave your room. While, yes, my suggestion is for you to get out there and attend a traditional in-the-street protest, there are ways to protest online. Remember the SOPA protests that sites like Wikipedia and Reddit took part in? That being said, online protesting isn’t just about changing your Facebook cover photo. I mean, remember Kony? What did that ever accomplish?

On Studying at Campus Libraries

There are so many libraries at U of T, so how the heck does one choose which library to study at?

I’ll tell you the quick and dirty answer.

You don’t have to choose just one. Study at all of them! While you’re at it, why don’t you look into actually learning how the cataloguing system works?

What I find incredible is that each library on campus has a distinct vibe and, depending on what and with whom you’re studying, some libraries offer more suitable atmospheres than others. For example, if I’m organizing a group study session, I’ll make sure it’s either at Robarts (second floor, where all the food is) or Kelly (in the comfy chairs on the first floor). Plus, it’s exciting to explore new libraries.

Maybe others don’t share my excitement for exploring these havens for bibliographical inquiry but, nonetheless, I think it’s important to try new things.

In short… don’t stick to just one library. Robarts 24/7 can be soul-sucking.

On Voting in UTSU Elections

We all complain about the UTSU, for whatever reason. However, voting stats show that hardly any U of T students vote UTSU elections. Your UTSU can’t adequately represent you unless you vote.

Contrary to what some people may say, the UTSU is important. Its decisions directly affect your academic and social lives. Vote so that you can get the most of what you want from your university experience.

On Pulling All-Nighters Studying at Robarts

While I mentioned before that Robarts can at times be soul sucking, it can also be a great place to get some overnight cramming done. Plus, you can rest assured that you won’t be the only one sleeping over at reliable John P’s. I kid you not when I say that I’ve known people to spend days at Robarts without leaving. Heck, you’ve got your coffee and food, your schoolwork, and, if you’re resourceful, a pillow and some comfy pajamas. You don’t really need anything else.

On Pulling All-Nighters Partying

Let it be known that Leah Henrickson does not ‘party’ in the traditional sense. She just doesn’t. Instead, she does to Snakes & Lattes (always accompanied by Smoke’s) and indie shows and the ROM, and she has more fun that she could ever have at a party.

So when I say ‘party’, I don’t necessarily mean getting smashed and crumping. Whatever crumping is. I mean going out and having a great time doing something that isn’t school-related.

Get out there and find something magical and bring your friends so they can experience the magic too. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go spend my night experiencing the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons with the Dungeons & Dragons club. My kind of party.

Other Advice Gleaned from Our Twitter Feed:

Club Profile: University of Toronto Public Speaking Club (UTPS)

Have you ever been afraid of public speaking? I know I have! Interested in improving? Then see what the University of Toronto Public Speaking Club (UTPS) is all about!

blogUT: How was the University of Toronto Public Speaking Club (UTPS) created and what is its mission?

UTPS: The University of Toronto Public Speaking Club (UTPS) is a student-led campus group, open to all three campuses at the University of Toronto. Established in 2013, it aims to give students an opportunity to overcome their public speaking fears and to improve their oral communication skills in a welcoming and supportive community. Continue reading Club Profile: University of Toronto Public Speaking Club (UTPS)

A How-To Guide for Getting Involved


Like most U of T students, I planned my high school career with the ultimate goal of achieving perfect grades so that I could have my choice of prestigious universities. When I got into that university (U of T, of course), I planned to be president of this and staff writer of that, and have time to go to the gym at least every other day, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. In short, I planned to have the perfect university experience.

During Clubs Day, I put my name down for about ten different clubs and committees. I can’t say there was any rhyme or reason to my choices, other than a vague sense that it “sounded cool” (that’s why Muy Thai kickboxing and beekeeping club were among them). During the first week of classes, I attended the informal open-house meetings for some of these groups. But my plans started dissolving by the end of September. As I tried to adjust to a new city, residence life, and the rapid pace of university classes, I found there was no space in my brain left for Muay Thai kickboxing or beekeeping or hitting the gym.

Now that I’ve navigated the first year of university life, I feel more confident in my ability to wrestle the proverbial monkey off my back and really experience the cool stuff that U of T offers outside the classroom (believe it or not, there is a lot of cool stuff). Lucky for you BlogUT readers, my first-year mistakes have become your Guide to Getting Involved For Real This Time: Continue reading A How-To Guide for Getting Involved

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!

First-Year Anxieties

As a first year student, I’ve been experiencing a lot of anxieties from my transition from high school to university.  Some things have been especially tough since I’m a commuter and I don’t seem to blend into the social aspects of university life as easily as residence students do. Therefore, I want to write this article as a way to document my experience and see if I can come up with solutions to my own problems. Continue reading First-Year Anxieties