May 19th, 2016
As of May 17th, I officially started back at school for the Spring term. Eventually, that will melt it’s way into the Summer term and that means I’ll be inside during the best construction days of Toronto; I’m sure this is no different for any of the other many grad student wandering a still-busy campus these days.
One of the drawbacks about going to school for the Summer term is that we miss out on, well, Summer; but that doesn’t have to be the case. Even if we do have to think about readings, and research, and grant proposals, and more university jargon than I care to mention, it doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy everything Toronto (and Ontario, and Canada as a whole) has to offer during the warmer months. Goodness knows there’s plenty of time during the colder part of the year to stay inside, so we should take advantage of the sun while it’s here…classes, or not.
So, without further ado, how can we make sure we still get to enjoy the warmth while we’re enrolled in courses, and doing research? Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of the coming months:
- Plan weekend trips – you might have to work part time, but make sure you book at least 1 weekend getaway so you can enjoy the weather. Maybe head out to one of the National Parks, you can even take the Park Bus to places like Algonquin Park, Bruce Peninsula, and Killarney. Also check out Airbnb for cheaper places all around the country for some great, student-budget-friendly options.
- Plan Ahead – make sure you know when you have deadlines, so that you know when you can take time for yourself, to hang out with friends, sit on patios, and still retain your educational sanity. Don’t forget my favourite word: balance. Plan ahead to make time for school and summer fun.
- Look up Toronto blogs – there are tons of blogs floating on the web that will help you fill in the free-time slots of your schedule once you’ve done that planning ahead. These sites have information on food festivals, concerts, free movies, and more.
- Eat lunch outside – since you have to take a lunch break anyway, you might as well take your take-out or packed baggie and head outside to find a soft spot on the grass. Bonus: reconnecting with nature boosts your happiness, calms you down, and recharges you.
- Do homework in the park – if you don’t need to be plugged into a computer, or bent over a specimen dish, why not bring readings you might have to a park? Hint: Queen’s Park is darn close to campus, and has some great comfy and shady spots to relax in the sunshine.
- Eat and Drink Summer – snacks and treats can be in season. Try a coffee float, or make salads with fresh strawberries, pecans, and goat cheese. Maybe head down to your closest farmer’s market (Bloor & Borden, starting June 1st) to pick up the freshest veggies and noms.
- Summer Your Study Breaks – treat your study breaks (which you need to do to retain good mental health, and productivity) as a mini me-cation and do something you love. This way, you can still get your work done, but also take some vacation-like downtime. Need ideas? Go for a walk, get an ice cream, read a book, lay in the sun (with sunscreen!), take a quick bike ride.
- Hit Up the Free Stuff – movies in Dundas Square, concerts at Casa Loma, and Shakespeare in High Park. Need I say more? Oh yeah, these aren’t huge time commitments, so you can enjoy some of the classics that summer in Toronto has to offer without feeling guilty about missing school time.
Now that the weather is heading into the 20s, we hope that these ideas give you a platform to begin enjoying your academic summer. Just because we’re in school, it doesn’t mean we can’t experience life outside of our research. In fact, we encourage you to explore everything life and Toronto has to offer outside U of T; your research is important, but it’s not everything you are, so get outside, enjoy yourself, and be happy!