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”

Lessons they should’ve taught you in high school…

After two and a half hours of helping an ickle EngSci froshie with choosing her electives, it finally dawned on me that I was actually in fourth year. Not that it really means anything superbly important for that matter (except for maybe that I should start figuring out what I should do once I graduate) but for now, being in fourth year means that I’ve left high school behind a long, long time ago. Looking back, I’ve realized that most of high school was a waste of time and that instead of calculus and career studies, they should’ve taught us the following in order to prepare us for university:

1. The art of BS – because part marks are your best friends

Whether you’re an arts student or a science student with an arts elective, learning to write as if you know everything without knowing anything at all is a crucial skill. If you’re already a master of BS, take it to the next level and learn to coherently word vomit – in other words, having the ability to write coherent paragraphs/essays by spitting every single detail you’ve learned in class because you’ve completely blanked out on a question.

2. Knowing how to slack off in a smart way

Face it, sometimes, it is actually impossible to get all those readings done. Now, I’m not telling you to go procrastinating and slack off all the time, but even the best of students find themselves buried in a pile of readings that just can’t be done. There are some classes where lectures won’t be worth going to (trust me, all of you will have a class like this) or readings that have absolutely no value to your exams and essays. Instead of just plain skipping these classes or readings, try organizing a study group that takes turns taking notes for class or readings. Read the notes before tutorials/exams/whenever. In first and second year, doing your readings for tutorials are a big part of your marks so if you’re really pressed for time and haven’t read this week’s readings, read (or at least skim) the introduction and conclusion of your readings. They should give you a rough outline of what it’s all about.

3. Learning to be nocturnal… and go to class in the morning

Sleep? What’s that? Now, if you’re done asking me stupid questions, I’d like to get my coffee.

Continue reading “Lessons they should’ve taught you in high school…”