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”

3 Things a Keener Wish She Knew In First-Year

Before I begin my post, I would like to clarify two things:

First, I was identified by others as a keener. Prior to coming to Canada, I thought there were only nerds. Apparently there were also over-achievers who were “fondly” nicknamed “keeners” by the general populace. Thus I am one of those. Second, please do not judge the keener community. To me personally, I enjoy slaving and overstudying. So before you think about how “life-less” or “weird” I am, I’d like to say for myself that going to Gernstein and reading my textbook on a Tuesday afternoon is pleasant. So it’s like vacationing in the Maldives, only in Toronto (saving money and time).

Most comments on online forums and websites are about how hard U of T is. So to keeners, I’d just like to say, if you worked your butt off in high school, then UT is not that bad. In fact, for me, it was easier. I actually get 8 hours of sleep per night, as opposed to the six in high school.

#1 It’s not that hard

Trust me. Having to not take courses I disliked such as the sciences, everything in university is much easier. With a wide array of classes and a lot of time to study for it (which, as keeners, I’m sure you will), then getting a 3.7+ should not be a problem.

#2 Don’t trust the ASSU

That was my biggest regret. I wanted to have a relaxing course in my first semester, so I took a super duper easy seminar course. It was super duper easy, except there was one problem: the teacher curved all our grades down since it was THAT easy. Being a naive first-year, I did not know this could happen, so I was super sad when my grade was lower by two grades. It turned out to be my lowest grade and a source of some mourning.

For all the courses that people warned me about, I did swimmingly because I put a lot of effort into them. ASSU is good to gauge the difficulty of the course, but somehow, I managed liking the courses that people gave the lowest rankings to just because I was willing to put in the extra effort.

#3 Take more courses in your first year

There are so many second-year classes you could take that don’t have any prerequisites, so do it when you have time and when university hasn’t fatigued you. I only wish I explored more elective options, such as religion courses with really fun names (Death and the Afterlife? You got me!).

To the keeners out there reading this, you’ll enjoy UT. Even though Urban Dictionary and eons of people bash it, you will be able to manage both your grades and a social life. There are so many opportunities that are just waiting for you to explore, so be excited. If you worked hard in high school, continue. If you didn’t, start now. If you still don’t find the motivation…party hard.

Dyechotomy

20 Engineering F!rosh - Before and After Dyeing
One of the best things about U of T is its storied history, as well as the traditions that get passed on every F!rosh Week.

Keep your eyes open for blogUT’s new feature – a photo every other week showcasing life at U of T.

Planning Your Frosh Week (If Cheers Give You Migraines)

As summer comes to a close, the familiar, spirited rumble on St. George Street signals the arrival of Frosh Week at U of T. Yes, each year prior to opening up their textbooks and sitting in lectures and complaining about how hard this university is, thousands of U of T students partake in the beloved and sacred tradition of Frosh Week: a colourful blur of cheers and chants which some designate as the highlight of their year, and others refer to as a reason to avoid campus for a week. Some students throw themselves into the student experience of Frosh, losing their voices and painting their faces and attending each activity with contagious enthusiasm. Other students, however, don’t find that the experience is for them, whether it’s due to a disdain for cheering in favour of civilized conversation, incompatibility with their group of fellow frosh, or lacking the desire to be a frosh leader as an Upper Year. My more devoted readers know well that I belong to the second group of students described, which you can read all about in the first article I ever wrote for BlogUT here. As I wrote in that article, I still encourage all first-years to at least give Frosh Week a chance to impress them before opting not to participate.

For those of you who are Frosh enthusiasts, I hope the week is everything and more, and that you find it an exciting social experience! For those of you like myself, however, who are not interested in joining the matching-shirt-sporting horde overtaking U of T this week, I dedicate this article to you, and encourage you to take your Anti-Frosh Week very seriously and commit yourself to making it an equally memorable experience. In this spirit, I’ve compiled a schedule of some of the exceptional events going on this week in Toronto, to help you make your week of not participating in Frosh worth your while.

Monday, September 5th:


Remember that Monday is a holiday, so crowds are to be expected basically everywhere you go – however these particular masses will thankfully not be screaming suggestive cheers! The advantage of this day being the end of Labour Day Weekend is that it offers your last opportunity to attend many events occurring exclusively over this holiday.

  • It is the last day of the Canadian National Exhibition and Air Show, a guaranteed good time with great food, carnival games and rides, and an exciting air show to keep you and your friends occupied all day long.
  • If most food is better slathered in hot sauce in your opinion, you will be pleased to know that Monday is also the last day of the Hot and Spicy Food Festival. Not only does this festival offer a selection of spicy dishes for those who dare to try them, but it also features an interesting array of live music.
  • Monday is the final day to see Water: The Exhibition at the ROM. The exhibition has been very well-received and is likely to be a very unique and enlightening experience – and, there are live animals!
  • It’s the 30th Birthday Celebration at Canada’s Wonderland. Wonderland of course requires little explanation: with roller coasters raved about relentlessly by thrill-seekers and plenty of food and shopping throughout the amusement park, it is a Toronto staple.
  • Monday is also the last day of Artfest in the Distillery, an outdoor art festival in the Distillery District featuring a long list of artisans and certain to be a visual marvel for art enthusiasts. 


Tuesday, September 6th:

 

  • Nu Music Nite @ Horseshoe Tavern features new artists from around the world. Notably on this particular evening, Seattle band The Young Evils take the stage at 10:00 P.M., a spirited indie band with charming vocals.
  • At 8:00 P.M., Paupers Pub hosts Art Bar Poetry, an evening of readings beginning with three featured authors performing in 20 minute sets, followed by ten poets reading their work in much shorter sets. This evening, featured poets are Catherine Kidd who has published a novel as well as two books of poetry and has toured internationally, Maureen Hynes who has published two collections of her poetry and is the poetry editor of Our Times magazine, and Shane Rhodes who has published three books of poetry and been featured in many anthologies. 

Wednesday, September 7th:

 

  • The Nathan Phillips Square Farmer’s Market is on today from 8:00 A.M. until 2:30 P.M., with all Ontario-grown produce on sale and live music playing.
  • The Art Gallery of Ontario is free today from 6:00 until 8:30 P.M. (and for future reference, every Wednesday at this time). The museum is impressive and inspiring, and something every resident of downtown Toronto should see at some point during their time here.
  • Also something every Toronto resident should see is the Royal Ontario Museum, also free today from 3:30 to 5:30 P.M. (and, again, every Wednesday at this time). The R.O.M. features a substantial collection of artifacts, and something is sure to catch your eye as you peruse.


Thursday, September 8th:

 

  • The University of Toronto Farmer’s Market is open today from 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. at Wilcocks Common (100 St. George St.). The market features locally grown, healthy food and emphasizes environmental consciousness and sustainability. Cooking demonstrations and stands for artisans are also part of the market.
  • Said The Whale is performing at Mod Club at 8:00 P.M. You can see this great Canadian band, who won the 2011 Juno Award for New Group of the Year, for just $15.00. Also performing this evening are Rah Rah and Sara Lowes.
  • Admission to Bata Shoe Museum is pay-what-you-can from 5:00 until 8:00 P.M. (and is so every Thursday night as well). The Bata Shoe Museum is such a unique Toronto experience, and the permanent exhibition is enlightening and simply a pleasure to walk through. The gift shop is also noteworthy for it’s selection of pretty shoe-themed stationary.
  • Today is the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival! This annual event inundates downtown Toronto with a flurry of critics, paparazzi, celebrities and of course movie-lovers, and is certain to be a highlight of your year, if you manage to snag tickets! 


Friday, September 9th:

 

  • Friday is UTSU Orientation Day, which is worth attending each year for the concert, which this year is headlined by Sam Roberts Band, and the massive after-party. The Clubs Fair is also a good opportunity to explore what our campus has to offer, but I would warn against the parade if you truly dislike Frosh-like activities.
  • The Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival takes place today at Harbourfront from 4:00 to 9:00 P.M., 4 – 9pm. The exhibitors at this festival will be bringing a certainly delicious variety of healthy Vegetarian foods which are sure to please your tastebuds, whether or not you are a vegetarian. Cooking demonstrations are also a part of this festival, for those of you who are interested in learning how to whip out some tasty Vegetarian dishes for your friends.
  • From 5:00 until 11:00 P.M., the Toronto Chinatown Night Market will be taking place on Huron Street. Vendors will be selling assorted cultural foods and products, and the street will also feature live music and different sorts of displays including calligraphy demonstrations and fortune-telling booths.

If I neglected to mention any awesome events going on this week, please feel free to post them in the comments. Whether you are attending Frosh Week, or avoiding the mob to explore the city, I hope the upcoming week is special for everyone, and that we all spend as little time as possible thinking about our impending classes. Enjoy your Frosh/Anti-Frosh!

As summer comes to a close, the familiar, spirited rumble on St. George Street signals the arrival of Frosh Week at U of T. Yes, each year prior to opening up their textbooks and sitting in lectures and complaining about how hard this university is, thousands of U of T students partake in the beloved and sacred tradition of Frosh Week, a colourful blur of cheers and chants which some designate as the highlight of their year, and others refer to as a reason to avoid campus for a week. Some students throw themselves into the student experience of Frosh, losing their voices and painting their faces and attending each activity with contagious enthusiasm. Other students, however, don’t find that the experience is for them, whether it’s due to a disdain for cheering in favour of civilized conversation, incompatibility with their group of fellow frosh, or lacking the desire to be a frosh leader as an Upper Year. My more devoted readers know well that I belong to the second group of students described, which you can read all about in the first article I ever wrote for BlogUT here. As I wrote in that article, I still encourage all first-years to at least give Frosh Week a chance to impress them before opting not to participate.

For those of you who are Frosh enthusiasts, I hope the week is everything and more, and that you find it an exciting social experience! For those of you like myself, however, who are not interested in joining the matching-shirt-sporting horde overtaking U of T this week, I dedicate this article to you, and encourage you to take your Anti-Frosh Week very seriously and commit yourself to making it an equally memorable experience. In this spirit, I’ve compiled a schedule of some of the exceptional events going on this week in Toronto, to help you make your week of not participating in Frosh worth your while.


Monday, September 5th:

 

    • It is the last day of the Canadian National Exhibition and Air Show, a guaranteed good time with great food, carnival games and rides, and an exciting air show to keep you and your friends occupied all day long.
    • If most food is better slathered in hot sauce in your opinion, you will be pleased to know that Monday is also the last day of the Hot and Spicy Food Festival. Not only does this festival offer a selection of spicy dishes for those who dare to try them, but it also features an interesting array of live music.
    • Monday is the final day to see Water: The Exhibition at the ROM. The exhibition has been very well-received and is likely to be a very unique and enlightening experience – and, there are live animals!
    • It’s the 30th Birthday Celebration at Canada’s Wonderland. Wonderland of course requires little explanation: with roller coasters raved about relentlessly by thrill-seekers and plenty of food and shopping throughout the amusement park, it is a Toronto staple. 

    • Monday is also the last day of Artfest in the Distillery, an outdoor art festival in the Distillery District featuring a long list of artisans and certain to be a visual marvel for art enthusiasts. 

    • Nu Music Nite @ Horseshoe Tavern features new artists from around the world. Notably on this particular evening, Seattle band The Young Evils take the stage at 10:00 P.M., a spirited indie band with charming vocals.
    • At 8:00 P.M., Paupers Pub hosts Art Bar Poetry, an evening of readings beginning with three featured authors performing in 20 minute sets, followed by ten poets reading their work in much shorter sets. This evening, featured poets are Catherine Kidd who has published a novel as well as two books of poetry and has toured internationally, Maureen Hynes who has published two collections of her poetry and is the poetry editor of Our Times magazine, and Shane Rhodes who has published three books of poetry and been featured in many anthologies. 

    • The Nathan Phillips Square Farmer’s Market is on today from 8:00 A.M. until 2:30 P.M., with all Ontario-grown produce on sale and live music playing. 

    • The Art Gallery of Ontario is free today from 6:00 until 8:30 P.M. (and for future reference, every Wednesday at this time). The museum is impressive and inspiring, and something every resident of downtown Toronto should see at some point during their time here. 

    • Also something every Toronto resident should see is the Royal Ontario Museum, also free today from 3:30 to 5:30 P.M. (and, again, every Wednesday at this time). The R.O.M. features a substantial collection of artifacts, and something is sure to catch your eye as you peruse.
    • The University of Toronto Farmer’s Market is open today from 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. at Wilcocks Common (100 St. George St.). The market features locally grown, healthy food and emphasizes environmental consciousness and sustainability. Cooking demonstrations and stands for artisans are also part of the market. 

    • Said The Whale is performing at Mod Club at 8:00 P.M. You can see this great Canadian band, who won the 2011 Juno Award for New Group of the Year, for just $15.00. Also performing this evening are Rah Rah and Sara Lowes. 

    • Admission to Bata Shoe Museum is pay-what-you-can from 5:00 until 8:00 P.M. (and is so every Thursday night as well). The Bata Shoe Museum is such a unique Toronto experience, and the permanent exhibition is enlightening and simply a pleasure to walk through. The gift shop is also noteworthy for it’s selection of pretty shoe-themed stationary. 

    • Today is the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival! This annual event inundates downtown Toronto with a flurry of critics, paparazzi, celebrities and of course movie-lovers, and is certain to be a highlight of your year, if you manage to snag tickets! 

    • Friday is UTSU Orientation Day, which is worth attending each year for the concert, which this year is headlined by Sam Roberts Band, and the massive after-party. The Clubs Fair is also a good opportunity to explore what our campus has to offer, but I would warn against the parade if you truly dislike Frosh-like activities. 

    • The Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival takes place today at Harbourfront from 4:00 to 9:00 P.M., 4 – 9pm. The exhibitors at this festival will be bringing a certainly delicious variety of healthy Vegetarian foods which are sure to please your tastebuds, whether or not you are a vegetarian. Cooking demonstrations are also a part of this festival, for those of you who are interested in learning how to whip out some tasty Vegetarian dishes for your friends. 

    • From 5:00 until 11:00 P.M., the Toronto Chinatown Night Market will be taking place on Huron Street. Vendors will be selling assorted cultural foods and products, and the street will also feature live music and and different sorts of displays including calligraphy demonstrations and fortune-telling booths.
  • Remember that Monday is a holiday, so crowds are to be expected basically everywhere you go – however these particular masses will thankfully not be screaming suggestive cheers! The advantage of this day being the end of Labour Day Weekend is that it offers your last opportunity to attend many events occurring exclusively over this holiday. 


    Tuesday, September 6th:

     

    Wednesday, September 7th:

     


    Thursday, September 8th:

     


    Friday, September 9th:

     

    If I neglected to mention any awesome events going on this week, please feel free to post them in the comments. Whether you are attending Frosh Week, or avoiding the mob to explore the city, I hope the upcoming week is special for everyone, and that we all spend as little time as possible thinking about our impending classes. Enjoy your Frosh/Anti-Frosh!

     

     

     

 

Once Upon a Midterm: Sage Advice from a First Year Student

Once upon a time, you decided you were going to go to U of T. Maybe your parents took you to an information evening, and you briefly heard the speaker mention how your 90 average was probably going to plummet, but you were distracted uploading a picture to Facebook of you in your new, complimentary U of T baseball cap. Maybe your guidance counsellor warned you that U of T was a really tough school, and you really considered what they said, and decided you could handle it. You’re a good student. Sure, your marks might drop a bit. But you’ll get back up there.

So, you went to U of T. It was great. The classes were really stimulating, you made lots of friends. Or maybe you hated all your classes and completely overhauled your schedule. Either way, some time in late October or early November, it was time for your first set of midterms.

You were going to be fine. You studied for hours in Robarts. You could practically give the lectures for this course.

Fast forward to today, two weeks later. The midterm marks are up on Blackboard and you’re making a safe bet on an 80. But guess what foreign number greets you when you turn on your screen: 60.

Huh. Never seen that grade before. It’s kind of nice. Very… round.

First year students (with the exception of geniuses, which there are many of at U of T), it is my distinct honour and pleasure to welcome you to the First Midterm Reality Check Club! Yes, it’s true, your 90s have literally FLIPPED OVER into a fabulous new number!

As you embark on the new and exciting numeric journey that is your first midterm grades, I would like to offer you a few reasons why you should NOT panic:

Continue reading “Once Upon a Midterm: Sage Advice from a First Year Student”

Try Not to Panic: Sage Advice from a First-Year Student

 

Upon my arrival to Toronto at the beginning of September, suffice to say, I was a wreck.  With classes looming on the near horizon, I was already pondering whether I should start my readings, what classes I should drop, and why I ever thought moving to Toronto was a good idea in the first place.  Further to my horror, my frosh leaders thronged my car and led me the basement of Whitney Hall, which strikingly resembles the set of a crime show murder scene.

Frosh Week passed in a blur of brightly-coloured t-shirts, face-paint, bandanas, gratuitous cheers, and new faces, many of which I would never recognize again.  For the first half of the week, I attempted to convince myself to cheer and attend all the activities on the schedule, intent that the first one I missed would be the best one, which bonded everyone unshakably and exclusively for the next four years.

This brings me to my first piece of sage wisdom: Everyone should give frosh week a chance.  If you are into cheering, spirit, jazz-hands, etc., this week may in fact be “the highlight of your U of T experience”, as your frosh leaders will tell you it will be.  For those of you like me, however, who tend towards a more composed temperament, I recommend giving Frosh Week a chance to entertain you; and if/when it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to do your own thing. People will still want to make friends after Frosh Week.  I can promise you that no activity will live up to the hype if none has by the middle of the week for you.  They will continue to all follow the same pattern of running around Toronto, cheering (despite that you are out of breath from running around Toronto), and being generally unsure of your objective. Continue reading “Try Not to Panic: Sage Advice from a First-Year Student”

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.

Continue reading “The No-Fear-First-Year Mini Guide to Starting at UofT”