October 13th, 2016

Toronto in the Fall

I woke up this morning with the feeling I was forgetting something; it wasn’t until I opened my agenda to plan my work/study/gym/maybe sleep schedule for the next week that I realized it’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow…which also means we are already halfway through October. Where did the time go? Are we six weeks into the Fall term already? And then, an even more pressing question, have I done a “Toronto in the Fall” blog yet?

source: google

source: google

With a present for my mom firmly in mind, I feel good about sitting down and sharing with you the must-do’s in and around Toronto this Fall. After all, there are only a few short weeks left to enjoy the sunshine before Fall breezes turn into Winter storms; let’s not waste any more time or sunshine.

  1. Go apple-picking (yes, there are places in/near Toronto). This is #1 only because I recently did this in Ottawa and it was as cheesy and cliche as you might think; of course, I’m allergic to raw apples but popping a few benadryl was completely worth it.
  2. Do something scary (this is the month of Halloween, after all). Casa Loma conveniently has a new Legends of Horror event happening every night until Halloween.
  3. Carve a pumpkin (obviously). Most grocery stores along Bloor St. have pumpkins for sale, so you’re bound to find one. If you’re uncertain about designs though, look no further. This site has some prize-worth ideas for you to pick from.
  4. International Festival of Authors. Happening Oct. 20-30, you will definitely find me down by the Harbourfront checking this out. Meeting authors, reading internationally-set books, I’m there. And you should be too.
  5. TedXToronto (yes!). Symbols and Signs is the theme of this year’s talk, and I hope I’m free to check it out. If you can’t make it, you can always download the TedTalk app to your phone for FREE and listen to some awesome speakers from around the world (can anyone say “legitimate” study break?).
  6. Royal Winter Fair. A little more family-friendly, this takes places Nov. 4-13 at Exhibition Place, so it gives you a little more time to plan too.
  7. Eat at the Poop Cafe (you heard me). I’m so excited about this new cafe; funny theme, delicious food, AND a new place to work on research? See you there. The cafe is on Bloor St., so super accessible as well.
Poop Cafe! (google)

Poop Cafe! (google)

If you’re not a fan of some of these ideas (fair enough), Blog T.O. has a list of 41 things to do in the Fall that might provide some more inspiration. You can also check out Toronto.com, or Atlas Communications for their info on farmer’s markets (how did I miss that?) and apple cider. Have some great ideas of your own? Share them with us in the comments so we can find new areas of Toronto to explore!

September 30th, 2016

Healthy Grads: Staying Healthy in School

This week’s post is brought to you by Marie-Elssa, this year’s team lead for Healthy Grads.

Hey Grad Life! Now that introduction’s have been made, let’s get to the real question: Who is the Healthy Grads? Well, we’re a team of eight grads just like you who want nothing more than to make sure you stay healthy this year. That means, lots of health & wellness programming designed especially for YOU…from people who get what it means to be a grad student at U of T. And we’ve got it all: PhD experts in Neuroscience all the way to Masters students specializing in Mental Health and Nutritional Sciences; so when we say we’ve got you covered, we mean it. We’re going to be hosting a TON of awesome workshops this year to help you stay fit, physically and mentally, throughout the year, so keep your ears open.

source: google

source: google

Enough about Healthy Grads, this is a blog post right? So let’s have some real talk. This first month back has been hectic! As I’m sure it has been for many of you out there, too. You’re back from summer break, your supervisors want updates (or you’re just meeting them, gulp!), it’s orientation week, and suddenly September is gone. This is usually when panic sets in, but don’t let it. I promise you, having been there myself, you will get back into the swing of things if you take it one day at a time (convincing myself as much as you, here).

But how do we keep our “mental space” clear? It’s easy to feel like we’re being pulled in a number of different directions at once, especially when you consider the numerous projects, initiatives, and career planning tasks we’ve got floating through our brains and “to-do” lists. One way I like to help keep track and stay calm is to build into my schedule the “healthy habits” I’m going to do weekly (and daily); that way, I know it will get done. Not sure if that’s realistic? Here’s how I’ve done it:

I sometimes feel like I don’t have the time to get what I need to do for my research done, so I signed up for Graduate Student Writing sessions; just like that, I have scheduled time where I have to work on my thesis, and there’s that stress taken care of.

source: google

source: google

I know it’s not enough to take care of my school work, I also have to work on me, so I added some Mindfulness Meditation classes into my schedule, and now I have no excuse not to take time to destress and refocus. Bonus? There’s a session right after the grad writing group; perfect!

So I’ve got school and mental health taken care of, but what about my body (you know, the thing that keeps everything going)? Lucky for me, and you, Healthy Grads just started a Tuesday and Thursday morning running group (yes, before classes get started for the day). Now, if I can just make sure I get up on time, I can get my days started with some movement and blood flow.

*Email us to join the running group: healthygradcrew.uoft@gmail.com *

source: google

source: google

Being a student in Nutritional Sciences, I also feel obligated to say something about healthy eating. Again, time is an obstacle, so a regular habit for me is “Sunday meal prep”. Now, meal prep can be a lot of work in and of itself, so start small. Plan to prep two- three meals for the week, and you’ll see it making a difference in no time. Your budget, stress level, and body will thank you for doing the work ahead of time.

I’m not a pro, I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned through trial & error, so take or leave what you like! Feel free to drop Healthy Grads a line if you want to chat, or are looking for more tips on staying healthy this year.

September 23rd, 2016

Tech & Tools to Time Manage

A lot of questions that I’ve received over the past few weeks of the new school year revolve around, “But how do I find the time for it all?” Like a lot of students, I find myself completing my Masters while being busy doing a hundred other things (or so it seems at times). For myself, it’s working two jobs and being a VP on the Master of Teaching Student Association (MTSA); well that and trying to squeeze in the run and yoga sessions I need to stay sane while doing the aforementioned. For others, it’s a full-time job, or family responsibilities, or volunteering. It’s a hundred other things.

Well, I’m here to tell you that a year or so later, and I’m still standing and looking to finish my Masters at the end of March 2017 (there IS a light at the end of the tunnel!). So, how do I do it? And how do a thousand other students with far more going on in their lives than I have, do it? The answer is two words we love to hate: time management. The whole concept of time management is easier said than done, so here are some practical applications you can download to get you started on the right track, and links to some articles by people far better than I at explaining the “how-to” of time management (because, let’s be honest, I’m more of “last-minute panic for inspiration” kind of gal and could do with learning some more tips myself).

source: google

source: google


Not sure if you’re wasting your time or not? Rescue Time is an app that will let you do a self-assessment of your time spent by spending you weekly reports or where all the time is REALLY going. Netflix perhaps?




Remember the Milk is a cool app that syncs with ALL of the devices (all of them), letting you keep tracks of your “must-dos” in one little area, but accessible from many areas.



source: google

source: googleFeel anxious about time and getting things done? Focus Booster is designed to literally reduce your anxiety about time management, and to help you focus on “just getting it done”. 


source: google

source: google

My Life Organized is basically the mothership of “To-Do Lists”; it helps create your list of must-dos based on your events calendar, and will automatically remind you when you have something pressing coming up (maybe not for those who get anxious with those kind of reminders, though!).


source: UTAC

source: UTAC

Finally, one from U of T itself! UTAC (U of T Assignment Calculator) lets you input your assignment and due date, and will break it down into steps with dates for each one to be completed. Even better, it gives you direct access to tips & tricks to help you get each of those steps done. Excellent.

And if you’re not an app kind of person, but you’d like some more tips on how to effectively manage your time, then check out this great article from NC State on how to do just that. If all else fails, don’t forget that U of T’s School of Graduate Studies (and the library too!) also put on great academic workshops to help out with time management, writing skills, research, and more! Happy Friday, happy (not) procrastinating.

September 15th, 2016

Cheap Eats in the City

Today, we’re doing a Throwback Thursday kind of blog! Over the course of our orientation workshop, and the campus tours, the other week, we got a lot of questions about where students can eat in the city that won’t have them crying over their bank statements. With this in mind, we decided to bring back a post from last year’s blog segments that lets you know a ton of delicious places in the areas that you can eat without breaking the bank.

The one thing we’d add to this list is the international cafe at Hart House, which has $5 lunches during the week and is great for anyone who wants yummy food on the cheap. Without further ado, our tried and true list:

El Furniture Warehouse on Bloor: all food, all under $5, all day

Fresh on Bloor: all food, 15% for students, every day

Metro on Bloor: Tuesday is student discount day, grab your reusable bags and get shopping

Bulk Barn on Bloor: Wednesday is 10% student discount day (umm Halloween candy, anyone??)

Sobeys: 10% off groceries, anytime

Toby’s on College: $9 all-day breakfast, Thursday to Sunday

Future Bakery on Bloor: $11 all-you-can-eat perogies, Wednesdays from 5-9pm

$5 breakfasts before 11a.m., Monday to Friday

Daddyo’s on Spadina (now gluten-free!): no taxes on all food, every Saturday

Spring Rolls: at every Spring Rolls, every Friday. 15% off for students.

Over Easy on Bloor: get a classic breakfast for under $10

L’Espresso bar Mercurio on Bloor: 20% student discount

Hot Yam!: Center for International Experience at UofT, $4 every Wednesday from 12-2

Insomnia on Bloor: 20% off all meals, all day/every day (minus weekend and holiday brunches)

Arisu Korean & Japanese Restaurant on Bloor: 10% off for students

Fika Café on Kensington: 15% off for students

Subway (all subways, all the time): 10% off for students

St. Louis on Bloor: $5 off a hot-menu item

20% off food

Melt, Grilled Cheese: $4 student lunch

15% off on Thursdays/Fridays

Mean Bao at Bathurst & Queen: everything under $5

Luther’s Chicken on Dundas: $8 chicken sammies, Wednesdays 5-8pm

Buna’s Kitchen at Richmond & Spadina: $5-$8 soups, sammies, and salads

Sorella in the Junction: $5 lunch specials

Pig Out BBQ on Spadina: Thursdays, Briket sammie & fries, $6.95

Mondays, Pulled chicken & fries, $6.95

And if that list is just not enough for you, you can check out even MORE delicious food options at NOW Toronto’s article on food for UNDER 5 DOLLARS.

Been to places we didn’t mention? Share them in the comments to help out your fellow grads! Happy eating, safe spending :)

September 3rd, 2016

Virtual Campus Tour

If you didn’t make it to the orientation on Aug.29th, or the campus tour on Aug.30th, fear not! We decided that even the students who made it to the tour probably won’t remember everything we talked about, or all of the places we visited, so we decided to put the tour route online for you, with all of the not-so-juicy, but still definitely essential, details you’ll need for navigating U of T as a grad student.

Above is a picture of the route we took, with all of the buildings visited/talked about marked in red. Click here to view a larger image of the campus map.

RL = Robarts Library

VC = Varsity Centre

TC = Trinity College

HH = Hart House

CH = Convocation Hall

CU = Cumberland House

KS = Koffler Student Services Centre

NB = Borden Building North

KP = Koffler House

GU = Graduate Students Union

WS = Warren Stevens Building (aka Athletic Centre)

GD = Grad Room/Graduate House

SC = Sussex Court

AD = Admissions & Awards

*Note: School of Graduate Studies (SGS) is not marked on the map; it is in a temporary location at 704 Spading Ave.*

Robarts Library: open late; Thomas Fisher Rare book library; multi-faith space; technology lending; media commons; printing, scanning, photocopying; inter-library book borrowing; map room; media commons; information library; ATM & cafeteria; T-Card office; guided tours throughout September

Varsity Centre: across from Goldring Centre (with cardio, weights, & sport medicine clinic); dome in the winter to continue field sports; skating rink with free skate rental & lessons; intramural sports

Trinity College: archives; cathedral; dining hall; GORGEOUS quad to study in & get away from city noise (other quads can be found behind the Art Museum near the Back Field)

Hart House: multi-purpose facility; Hart House Theatre; international cuisine; $5 lunch on Wednesdays; free drop-in programs (athletic & social); gym with suspended track, pool, squash courts; art gallery; info desk on 1st floor with calendar of events; free open-house BBQ on Sept. 15

Cumberland House: Centre for International Experience; iconnect mentorship program; free movie nights; English language writing support; exchange support

Koffler Student Services Centre: Career Centre; Second Cup; Health & Wellness (not to be confused with Accessibility Services, which is located at 455 Spadina Ave.); Family Care office; Bookstore (UofT paraphernalia); AskMe

Borden Building North: First Nations House; Aboriginal Studies *note: Deepening Knowledge Project is located at OISE*

Koffler House: multi-faith centre; mindful moments; Centre for Community Partnerships (CPP); Veda Cafe (vegan, Indian, delicious)

Graduate Students Union (GSU): GSU pub (365 days a year); home of: the Grad Student Union, Grad Minds (offers free healthy living and PD activities for students), UTGSU weekly digest office, health & dental plan office; volleyball league; Harvest Noon Cafe (local, sustainable & organically produced food; has boardgames and seed exchange too!); free welcome BBQ Sep. 8

Warren Stevens Building: Athletic Centre (7 gyms, 3 pools, track, cardio equipment; be careful though! wifi signal isn’t the best); Starbucks

*All gyms at U of T participate in The Change Room Project, an awesome initiative to make all persons feel comfortable in that space; especially designed to make members of the LGBTQ+ community feel comfortable and safe in their persons, and in their school space*

Grad Room: has peer animators from GradLife and School of Graduate Studies (ask questions about grad escapes/talks, work-studies, etc.)); Second Cup; casual study space for individuals & groups; downstairs community room (PD workshops, free yoga, St. John’s puppy visit, Get Crafty, etc.)

Sussex Court: 21 Sussex; office of the clubs on campus; Graduate Life; school newspaper; Campus police (WalkSmart service); Co-Curricular Record (CCR) office; Sexual Gender & Diversity Office (SGDO: Queer Orientation Sept.22-30); open house in October with free candy

School of Graduate Studies: dedicated wellness counsellor for grad students; awards & scholarships

Other Important Links & Resources:

G2G – Conflict Resolution Centre for grads

Graduate Professional Skills (GPS)

Healthy Grad Crew 

Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office – 215 Huron St.



August 30th, 2016

Yesterday, we had a great orientation event for incoming graduate students to U of T. One of our speakers was Heather McGhee Peggs, the manager of the Conflict Resolution Centre where graduate students can speak to peers about any problem, big or small. Today, one of the G2G peer advisors, Natalie, offers her advice on how to avoid and deal with conflict in grad school. 

source: G2G website

source: G2G website

“Starting graduate school is an exciting new experience that hundreds of incoming students will face this September. However, graduate school can also be a source of many challenging situations, such as building student-supervisor relationships, heavy course work, applications for scholarships and grants, steep financial obligations, new housing conditions, and family pressures.

It can be daunting and intimidating to have to think about juggling all the new responsibilities that come with being a graduate student, and it’s almost inevitable that at times it may feel like you’re going to crack under the pressure. These types of high stress high pressure situations become a breeding ground for conflict to manifest. So what can you do if this happens to you?

From the perspective of someone who has spent 4 years in graduate school, and the better part of the last year as a grad-to-grad (G2G) peer conflict resolution advisor at the Conflict Resolution Centre for Graduate Students at UofT, I hope these tips can shed some light on how to approach conflict during graduate school and beyond.

  1. Don’t let it paralyze you

The first part is probably the hardest. It’s much easier to avoid conflict and hope that it goes away on its own somehow, than face it head on. Avoidance is in fact a valid conflict approach in the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, and may be conducive in certain types of conflict situations, provided it is the conscious choice. However, for the most part avoiding conflict simply lets it fester, and prevents you from moving forward. This type of inaction can lead to getting stuck in a constant cycle of avoidance that ultimately results in a lot of wasted time and efforts.

  1. Break problems down into smaller components

The key to helping overcome conflict paralysis is to break the larger problem down into component parts. Oftentimes conflict is very multifactorial, and consists of more than one root cause. Tackling a big problem can seem like a giant mountain to climb, but breaking it into smaller component problems can allow to target these smaller pieces one at a time.

  1. Ask for help

Don’t be shy or nervous about asking for help with conflict resolution. Effective conflict resolution is a skill you need to learn and develop. Most people haven’t ever received any formal training in this skill and find it difficult to effectively work through conflict on their own. Recognizing that it might be beneficial to seek out help from those with this skillset can save you time and energy in the long run.

  1. Get multiple perspectives

Given that conflict can be multifactorial and therefore very challenging to solve, multiple resources may be needed to effectively work thought it. That is why the CRC encourages students to seek out support from the network of resources available at UofT to help students work through the various aspects of their concern, e.g. the Academic Success Centre, the Centre for International Experience (CIE), ELWS and Accessibility Services among many others.

  1. Think about what you really want as your end goal

Ask yourself, what are you really trying to achieve? Similarly, consider where you may be willing to be flexible; sometimes it’s not possible to get everything exactly the way you want it. For example, when discussing expectations for work with your supervisor, it’s important to know the areas where you are willing to bend and those where you are not. Similarly, when thinking about whether to escalate an issue or formalize a complaint, think about possible outcomes and how they may impact you in your future studies. Timing can be critically important, if for example you only have a few months of school prior to graduating.

  1. Do a dry run

Once you have moved past the point of getting unstuck and decided to have that conversation with your supervisor, or decided to send that email to the department, it can be valuable to do a test run with someone you trust. Read you email aloud or have someone you know talk through that conversation, and point out possible outcomes of how it might go, or the implications of using specific wording and phrasing. G2G advisors can offer a valuable resource in helping you work through that first conversation.

  1. Seek solutions, not just wins

Finally, it’s easy to look at conflict from a personal position where you seek a win for yourself. However, this may not always be conducive to obtaining the best outcome for your future objectives. Think about how you might meet the other person’s objectives, and use that as a negotiating tool. Positively resolving conflict can help build relationships and open opportunities for improved solutions.

The CRC is a unique place for graduate students to seek out advice and coaching from a G2G Peer Advisor. As a G2G, I have learned how complex graduate student conflict can be, and how G2Gs can be a valuable resource to graduate students who are struggling to navigate the intricacies of their complex problems. There’s no such thing as “too small a problem” when your graduate education is on the line, and resolving conflict quickly and effectively can save valuable time, energy and resources.

So if you’re a grad student, whether you’re just starting or returning, and are having a difficult time with any type of conflict during your studies, consider stopping by for a chat with a G2G peer conflict resolution advisor. http://gradcrc.utoronto.ca/


For more information and advice on how to better navigate conflict during graduate studies follow us on Twitter @G2GUofT.  Stay tuned on Twitter for advice from current grad student to incoming grad students this Fall!”

As always, stay tuned to this page for more great information about settling in to grad school at U of T.


August 24th, 2016

Meet Your Orientation Panelists: Hamza Bin Taufique

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 8.37.51 AMWe’re continuing our saga of introducing you to the graduate panelists for this post, and today we’d like to tell you a little bit about Hamza Bin Taufique. Hamza is pursuing his PhD in Molecular Genetics, and has been with U of T 5 years. He has some good, quick info for you to access, so read on!

What does a regular day look like for you?

A lot of my time is spent in a lab doing experiments, reading papers or writing grants/papers. Evenings are split between doing volunteer work, working on student life projects, and socializing with friends.

Are you local to Toronto, or did you move here for school? If so, where from?

I’m not a local of Toronto proper. I am originally from the suburban GTA town of Brampton.

Do you have a favourite study spot at U of T?

The UC Quad is amazing for getting some reading done.

Are you involved in any groups on campus? 

I’m the co-chair of Grad Minds, a Grad Room Community Animator, and am part of a few committees dealing with graduate students.

What is the biggest stress you have about being a graduate student?

Uncertainty of experiments and continuously having to evolve your hypotheses – but somehow that is also the fun part of graduate school. It’s very rewarding when you finally crack a research question.

Do you have any advice for incoming graduate students?

Plan your time in graduate school – have a day-to-day schedule and a long term schedule for goals that you want to achieve. Stick to this plan as much as possible. Also, I cannot stress this enough – make sure you are involved in activities/hobbies apart from your research.

What is your least favourite part about being a graduate student at U of T?

Lack of interdisciplinary collaborations.

What’s your favourite “have-to-see/go-to” spot off-campus, in Toronto?

I love being around the water and Toronto has a lot of cool places fr viewing Lake Ontario. My favourite go-to spots are: (1) Polson Street next to Sound Acadmey, (2) Leslie Street Spit (Tommy Thompson Park), and (3) Humber Bay.


As always, stay tuned for some more great ideas of how to get by in grad school, and where to spend your “not-in-the-lab” time!

August 22nd, 2016

Meet the Orientation Panelists

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 8.37.51 AM                                                            Last week, we were introduced to one of our panelists, Atifa, who will be helping to transition new students to grad life at U of T at our orientation event next Monday. This week, we’re going to continue our introductions with Jacob. Jacob Hogan is in the History department, pursuing his PhD; he is entering his sixth year of study.

Read on for information on Jacob’s time as a PhD student at U of T.

What does a regular day look like for you?

I wake up often around 6:00 am, go to the gym, and then focus on writing my dissertation until 9:00 pm.

Are you local to Toronto, or did you move here for school? If so, from where?

I am from Peterborough, Ontario. I completed my BA and MA in history at the University of Ottawa.

Do you have a favourite study spot at U of T?

The Laidlaw Library. There is a monument of Gandhi and it’s usually quite barren of people. The Grad Room is great too, but can get quite disquiet. Bring earplugs.

Are you involved in any groups on campus? Which ones?

I am the Senior Editor of Re:locations: Journal of the Asia-Pacific Word, and am a member and facilitator of the Academic Success Center’s graduate writing groups.

What is the biggest stress you have about being a graduate student?

Disappointing my father is a worry only because he has financed so much of my education.

What is your least favourite part about being a graduate student at U of T?

The cost of tuition.

Favourite “have-t0-see/go-to” spot off-campus, in Toronto?

I don’t have much of a “social life” right now; instead, I have instituted Jake Time. This is where I don’t go out on weekends, and focus on me. I do, however, enjoy any place there is stand-up comedy in the city.

Do you have a piece of advice for incoming graduate students?

First, realize the tyranny of time is real. As a PhD student, your first two years will have more structure and deadlines—year one will be dedicated to completing your course work and year two is comps. After that the structure ends. Don’t waste year number three–the pivotal year–or your summers. Take a week or two off after you finish your comps, but not a month off. You are not done once you finish your comps.

Second, explore and utilize more of this university than just the library and café. Although I misremember the book and author, I do remember reading for my comps that a university is a tremendous resource for those that use it. Use it. Go Hart House. Take a spin class. Do yoga. Play soccer. The classes are free and sweating is a great stress reliever. Most importantly, expand your network and connections outside your department. Become a mentor. Volunteer. Find part-time work in the University. These are things to do especially in years one through three when you haven’t really started writing your dissertation.

Third, in your department join committees that will be relevant for your CV and your resume.  If you are going to be involved in your department, aim for a position of leadership. This will help you when seeking employment—inside or outside the academy. Also realize that when it comes to major awards and grants in your department, faculty members will view your active involvement in the department as a plus.

Fourth, learn how to say no. Don’t go to every single social get together and pub night. Go if you want to go, not because you feel obligated.

Fifth, and most importantly, start writing your dissertation as soon as you can. The best dissertation is a finished one. I facilitate graduate writing groups for the Academic Success Centre and they have been great for everyone that commits to them and attends. We sit down for two and a half hours and write. There are no cell phones allowed; they are turned off and are out of sight and mind. The groups are ideal for first year students working on grant applications or term papers. Janelle Joseph organizes these groups and they are amazing.

Sixth, follow the work of Karen Kelsky, known as “The Professor is In.” She has a twitter account and website. From her work, I took away that graduate school is a vehicle for your career and life, but not a final destination. So many graduate students get comfortable with the lifestyle here. They join committees, get lured into teaching a class that eats away at their writing time, and forget—or ignore– they have to write a dissertation.

Stay tuned all this week for more words of wisdom, key info, and tips to success from your orientation panelists!

August 15th, 2016

Meet the Panelists: Gradlife Orientation

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 8.37.51 AM On August 29th, Gradlife will be hosting an orientation day for all incoming graduate students to U of T. Entering the graduate life can be a sometimes disorienting experience, and made especially more so if you’re new to Toronto, or new to U of T. At Gradlife, we think that while a few sound words of advice from people who work on campus is definitely an asset, the best way to know how to navigate your graduate experience is to hear directly from those who’ve been there themselves, or who are still there. With this in mind, we’ve invited a panel of graduate students to orientation to answer your questions, give you some insight into what being a graduate at U of T is all about, and basically to assuage your worries about “not being able to cut it”.

In the meantime, we thought it’d be great if you got to know your panelists a little bit more! So, without further ado, here is an insight into some of the people who’ll be guiding your grad experience.

Panelist: Alifa F. Karim

Atifa has been a Master of Education student for one year, and is pursuing Higher Education and Educational Policy at OISE. In addition to this, Atifa also volunteers with the Student Affairs Society at OISE.

What does a regular day look like for you?

This very much fluctuates based on what time of year it is, but on average I work in the morning and then have classes in the evening. I usually have pretty long days (9am – 8pm), but then have about two days (during the work week) where I’m off campus and can dedicate that time to personal interests and getting readings, papers, etc. done.

Are you local to Toronto, or did you move here for school?

I’ve lived in Toronto since I was about 15. I lived in a few different places before moving here: Guyana (which is where I was born), Miami, and Jamaica.

Do you have a favourite study spot at U of T?

Nexus Lounge at OISE (12th floor, with a great view of the Toronto skyline!)

 What is the biggest stress you have in relation to being a graduate student?

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance. It’s easy for me to become completely immersed in my programs of study, at the expense of other personal interests. Refining how to balance these commitments can sometimes be challenging, but it’s also valuable to work through.

What is your least favourite part about being a graduate student at U of T?

It’s sometimes difficult to find community. The challenge is to actively seek it out and find something that is the right fit for you.

Do you have a favourite “have-to-see/go-to” spot off-campus, in Toronto?

The ROM. There’s so much to see, explore, and still relatively close to campus.

 Do you have any advice for incoming graduate students?

Be intentional. Follow your passions, but be mindful of your ability to tell your story. Understand your experience, and work on articulating the skills you have. This is valuable exercise to engage in before and during graduate studies, as it helps you to refine what areas of development you’re still seeking to explore.

Stay tuned next week for more info on, and advice from, your orientation to gradlife panelists! As you’ll see, graduate students at U of T come from places all over the world, have a wealth of experience and talent to offer U of T and their peers, and are people who acknowledge that being a grad student is sometimes tough, but know the secrets to making a day successful, and the entire journey totally worthwhile.

July 13th, 2016

Beating the Heat in Toronto

13686568_10205809700915479_8309353955500532209_n A few weeks ago, I attempted to run my first half marathon. On the morning of, however, the day was already so hot and humid at 8a.m. that race officials had to shorten the 13.1 miles to 13 km. Sure, I was disappointed, but when I hit the trail and felt heat, I was more than glad that I wouldn’t have to slog for 2.5 hours in it. Now, it’s almost 6 weeks later and I’ve decided to start re-training for a different half marathon happening this September (second time’s the charm, right?). There’s no time like the present to get started, so I laced up my shoes yesterday, grabbed my favourite running buddy, and out we went.

I should mention that we decided to run at 10:30p.m. because the day had been so hot, and we knew we’d keel over if we went any earlier. Turns out, it STILL felt like it was +30 degree Celsius that late at night; needless to say, we didn’t get very far before legs felt like jelly, and 5km felt like 15. This got me to thinking, if it’s THAT hot and humid out at night, what the heck can we do during the day to stay cool? If there’s one thing you learn about living in Toronto, it’s that the temperature is either +30 or -30 and there’s no real in between, you just have to learn to live with it.

So, to help you better live with the heat that we’re experiencing this week, I’ve decided to compile a list of all those places you can go to hang out where you won’t have to think “oh my goodness, I wish it were winter again”, as those us in the Great White North are prone to do 3 months of the year.



The Chill Ice House: located in Kensington, this bar is made up almost entirely of ice (YES), and rests at a cool -5 degrees. Don’t worry, gloves are provided! And, it’s family-friendly from 11am-6pm. The only drawback? Cover fee, but that might be a small price to pay this humid week.



Be a Mermaid: yep, for $60 you can don a fish tail and splash around like Ariel. Need I say more?

source:blog T.O.

source:blog T.O.

Head to a Water Park: There are more than a handful of fun, not-going-to-break-the-bank waterparks in and around Toronto; yes, even with Ontario Place now closed. The closest ones are found right downtown at the Harbourfront Centre, or a quick ferry ride over to Centre Island (which, let’s face it, is a cool getaway in and of itself).

Morning Walk: If you want to enjoy the shade and hide in the shelter of trees, best to limit your walks to earlier in the morning when the sun hasn’t had a chance to warm the air quite so much, or later at night when its absence makes a walk a little more bearable. Still, there are plenty of cool spots to check out, for free, around Toronto, and this guide will show you a lot of the water features and “oo ah” places that won’t have you melting to see. The best part? A lot of these stops are oh so wonderfully located by places with air conditioning, bonus!

None of these ideas grabbing your attention? Always remember that you can think a little smaller, and that heading to libraries, shaded patios, cool shopping malls, and taking in the latest movie are also good ways to beat the heat. Whatever you decide to do though, make sure you’re staying well hydrated, wearing sunscreen, and have a hat with you. Safety and fun first!

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