December 2nd, 2016

Keeping Your Cool During Crunch Season

Today, as I sat stuffing envelopes full of pamphlets and student discount cards for the students in the MT program, I seriously wondered to myself why I had thought it would be a good idea to become a VP of the MT student association (MTSA) this year. Normally, I have a ball being part of the MTSA; I love connecting students to experiences outside of our department, putting on socials, and hosting phys ed events, but there’s something about this time of year that gets even the most optimistic person (aka me) feeling just a little bit overwhelmed (read: a lot).

I’ve already completed three assignments that I have due this week, but I’m still staring down two major research papers, a professional portfolio, a conflict & education case study, a presentation & reflection, and the fourth chapter of my thesis…all due by on or before December 14th. Anyone want to insert a panicked scream here? As I think about it, it’s not so weird that I had that thought about being part of the MTSA, and have been wondering about the myriad other things I find myself involved in. Exam and project season is tough; we all know the projects will get done, but it’s always more daunting on this side of the finish line.

So, how do we get through it all without wanting to order 100 coffees and crying into every one of them? 

In an effort to help you stay calm, collected, and on top of things during this crunch period, we’ve compiled a list of some great apps that will help you study, encourage your calm, and hopefully bring you a little clarity this pre-holiday season.

**most of these apps are compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows, and can be accessed via your phone or computer**

Study-Based Apps to Get You Through:

taken from LaptopMag

taken from LaptopMag

Evernote (FREE): a great app to organize all those notes, graph photos, to-do lists, and pre-holiday obligations. Evernote helps you to: take notes, make to-do lists, set reminders, attach files, and also save a photo as a document or post-it.

Taken from LaptopMag

Taken from LaptopMag

Khan Academy (FREE): Strictly speaking, this one isn’t a study organizer, but it DOES have cool videos on basically any topic, which means you can watch LeBron James introduce a probability problem if you need a quick reminder on the basics of a topic, or just want to browse a different subject as a study break.

Taken from LaptopMag

Taken from LaptopMag

Wolfram Alpha: This app isn’t free, but it IS a tutor, report & graph generator, and formula explicator that you get all for $2.99. Not too shabby!

Taken from LaptopMag

Taken from LaptopMag

Easy Bib (FREE): We all know that writing the bibliography of a research paper is the wrst part, so why not make it easier on yourself? EasyBib is great because you can access it from your phone, now you can work on those pesky citations when killing time on the subway!

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

My Study Life (FREE): need to keep track of a crazy study, research, class, lab schedule? Want to access it across multiple devices? Look no further!

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Flash Cards Deluxe: Too cool NOT to include, even if it IS $3.99. This app lets you create personalized flashcards for anything. ANYTHING. And you can use them on your phone, and NOT waste more paper or get hand cramps writing out your notes on cue cards.

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Sleep Cycle ($1.69-1.99): Knowing WHEN to wake up, no matter how early or late you’re going to bed, is key to making sure you get a good night’s rest and your brain is ready to go even without that coffee! This app will tell you when you need to wake up depending on your sleep time, and helps you get there too.

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

The Now (FREE): This app will help you keep your chin up by sending you mindfulness messages throughout the day.

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Talkspace: Don’t have time to book an appointment with UofT Health Services but really need someone to talk to during crunch time? For $25 a week, you can message with a therapist from your phone. The app IS free, but that version gives you limited access to therapists.

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Smiling Mind (FREE): This app gives you guided meditation practice based on your age. Ucertain about this one? A little mindfulness each day is actually a great way to boost your awareness, and create a sense of peace…something we could all use when research papers loom.

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

SuperBetter Games (FREE): Basically, these are games that help improve your resiliency, mental health, and encourage creative thinking to hard problems. A very productive way to take a study break if you ask me!

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Songza (FREE): For me, there is nothing better than instrumental music to keep me focused when studying, a little old rock to get me having a dance party when I need to move (aka when I can no longer sit at my desk), and some upbeat tunes when I need to put a little happiness back in my mind. Check out Songza for music playlists to fit your every mood, activity, genre, and occasion!

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Magic Window – Living Pictures: Can’t actually get outside to take a walk and take in nature? Try Magic Window, it will send you peaceful nature scenes from around the world to put everything right in your world.

While we certainly hope these apps help you de-stress, stay centered, and get through this busy period more easily, don’t forget to take care of yourselves and to seek help in person here if you need to. Good luck!

November 17th, 2016

Say Hi to Your Neighbour: a post-election piece

In light of recent events in the U.S., we wanted to use this week’s blog post to remind everyone in our immediate U of T family and beyond of their importance and their worth, and of the importance of community. When something happens that shakes a community to its very core, it can be hard to focus on the positive things that surround us because it’s so easy to become bogged down by the potential negativity that the future might hold. For the past week, I’ve found myself bogged down by that same negativity, and it wasn’t until I went to one of my classes today that I was able to shake some of it off by focusing on what’s important.

source: google

source: google

I’m currently taking a peacebuilding and education course, and today we talked about exactly what those things are that help promote peace, what things are most important to creating positive communities. Let me tell you.

Gender inclusion is important to peacebuilding, honouring history and memory is important to peacebuilding, celebrating differences is important to peacebuilding, building relationships that don’t involve power imbalances is important to peacebuilding, inclusive education is important to peacebuilding, finding commonalities across differences is important to peacebuilding, you are important to peacebuilding. Most of us didn’t get a say in what happened in the U.S. last week, but we do get to choose how we react to it, how we deal with it, how we rise from it. I never thought I would live in a day and age where a person who is so overtly divisive would be in such a great position of power in North America, but it did happen, and the only thing I can think to do in response is to be proudly, overtly, unapologetically united in the face of this division.

source: google

source: google

Of all the articles, books, web pages, and theses that I’ve read for that peacebuilding course, the thing that has stayed with me the most is the importance of relationships. Relationships between friends, between families, between communities, between students and teachers, between government bodies and grassroots organizations, between countries, between people. At a time when so many of the world’s communities are concerned by what the next few weeks, months, and years are going to bring, we need to remember that our greatest strength lies in our connections to each other. Our best hope for building peace is by strengthening our bonds of friendship, and finding commonality across divides.

In addition to the peacebuilding course, I’m also currently completing a teaching placement at an outdoor education centre, and the question we always ask students to think about is: “How do my daily choices affect my world?” I’d like to end this blog by asking you the same thing. Take all the time you need to process the truth of what might be coming our way, but once that’s done, it’s time to pick yourself up off the couch, open your front door, and say hi to your neighbour. It’s time to start cherishing the relationships we have, and to start strengthening our bonds across communities. I’m not saying that the next few years are going to be easy, but as one of my grade 5 students reminded me the morning after the election: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

source: google

source: google

November 8th, 2016

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome: Tips from Those Who’ve Been There

Grad Panel

Grad Panel

At last week’s Optimize Your Graduate Experience, we had the opportunity to hear from some different grad students about their experiences in grad school, and how they deal with imposter syndrome. For those who don’t know, imposter syndrome is the all-too-common feeling of not measuring up, not feeling like you deserve to be here, and feeling like you have to compare yourself to others in/out of your program.  Sound familiar? Turns out, most people (grad students and those who graduated 20+ years ago!) have felt these feelings at one point or another, but the question is: How do we deal with them? How do we turn off that niggling voice in our head saying, “You’re not good enough” so that we can get on with our days and prove it wrong? Here are some tips that our grad student panelists shared last week:

  1. Create a wall of inspiration: Find messages, pictures, song lyrics, etc. that inspire you and bring you to your happy place. When you’re feeling low, you can look to your wall for a much needed reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  2. Put your acceptance letter somewhere visible: For a coup de grace, add your acceptance letter to your wall of inspiration/motivation; it’s a good reminder that we all deserve to be here, and that we’ve worked hard to earn our place.
  3. Greet each day with a ‘beginner’s mind’: Simply put, try to recognize that every day is a new opportunity to start again. This may sound a little cliche, and certainly more easily said than done, but focusing on what you can start fresh with is a great way to move forward, especially when you’ve experienced setbacks.
  4. Acknowledge the imposter syndrome: for some reason, these imposter syndrome feelings aren’t much talked about among grad students, but they should be. If you don’t feel comfortable chatting with people in your program, turn to a support system outside of school. Don’t have one? Now’s the perfect chance to join a club and meet some new friends. If you’re still uncertain about who will listen, the  Health & Wellness Centre offers coping workshops meant just for this.

    Talk to people about it

    Talk to people about it

  5. Find control and validation in other areas of your life: sometimes, imposter syndrome can stem from having to give up control of the direction of our education to advisors; regain some of that “in control” feeling by choosing how you spend your free time. Bonus if you take up a hobby and find validation in that; it’s always good to remind ourselves that our skills and strengths don’t lie entirely within the realm of graduate academia. Maybe you’re a talented artist, a great musician, trying to run your fastest 5km? Everyone has something.

    Find validation outside of academia.

    Find validation outside of academia.

  6. Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reels: this is the Facebook syndrome; no one puts their lows on Facebook, but they do put all of their “I wish I could do that” envy-inspiring moments. Don’t forget that behind-the-scenes, it may not all be sunshines and rainbows, so take the highlights with a grain of salt and a reality check.
  7. Embrace failure: failing is hard, but it’s also what’s going to lead you to the novel idea, that breakthrough moment, and that “perfect” solution. If you’re still trying after you fail, that’s still a success.
  8. Redefine how you talk to yourself: Change the conversation in your head; instead of saying “I’m a grad student, BUT I failed”, try saying “I’m a grad student AND I failed”. When you change the “but” to “and”, you open the possibility of “because…” Why did you fail? Was it something beyond your control? Is there something you can learn from for next time? How can you turn this otherwise negative experience into a learning one?

Above all, know that you are not alone in feeling like your best isn’t alway good enough. Part of belonging to a competitive university (and let’s face it, society) means that we’re going to sometimes compare ourselves to others, and rely too much on the voice inside our heads that is our harshest critic. Instead of encouraging this voice, tell yourself everyday, “I am enough”, you might just end up believing it.

October 23rd, 2016

Fostering Effective Communication: Lessons from Second City

source: google

source: google

Last week, Gradlife had the chance to go to an improv class hosted by Second City. While I’ve done this class before, having a new instructor impart the same information in a slightly different way helped to reinforce what I already knew (hint hint to all of you T.A.s out there). Now, with the information under my belt twice, I’ve been thinking about what Second City had to say about communication, and more importantly, HOW they shared what they had to say.

It seems like a pretty taken-for-granted fact that effective communication is a necessary skill to succeeding in life; be it in a classroom, a relationship, with your parents/friends, or in the workplace, knowing how to communicate is often times more important than what you need to communicate. Essentially, having the skills to get your message across can be the difference between a total flop and solidifying relationships.

This is the no-no.

This is the no-no.

So, what makes a person an effective communicator? A few small tips from our workshop:

  1. Always focus on “Yes, and…”. I think we can all figure out that a “no” is a hard stop to any communication; but it turns out that simply agreeing also doesn’t help things a whole lot. Take this scenario for example: you want to go out with your friend, and suggest so; the only thing they say is, “Yes!”. A yes is nice, but it also means that all of the pressure to figure out the how/what/where/when/why is now on you; so next time you’re being asked something, consider saying “Yes, AND…” to take some of the pressure off the other person.
  2. Play the “last word” game. Ever notice how we’re always waiting for the person we’re talking to to finish their sentence so we can jump in and have our say? Many of us are so focused on what we want to say to follow up the information given to us that we don’t stay tuned in until the end of another person’s sentence, which means we might miss out on some crucial info. So, next time you’re having a conversation with someone, challenge yourself to start your next sentence with the last word of theirs. Tricky, huh? Yes, AND you might find that it actually helps your communication because it’s forcing you to listen just as much as you want to talk (see what I did there?).
  3. Move from “You should/could…” to “Let’s…”.  In life, there are going to be times when we have a problem that needs fixing, there’s no getting around it. The question though, is how we handle that problem effectively. Why not try using the word “Let’s…” to frame your conversation surrounding these problems. Using the word “Let’s…” makes both parties part of the problem AND the solution, meaning that you’re more likely to come to an effective solution that satisfies both people. Using “you should/could…” on the other hand, reinforces power relationships that don’t necessarily benefit anyone involved.
  4. Stop starting your sentences with “Yeah, No.” I am so guilty of this that I did it to the course instructor the minute the class ended; she asked me a question and I started with, “Yeah, no, yeah,,,” before I could stop myself. Here’s why it’s not a good thing to of: it sends the message that you don’t really want to be talking to that person, and it’s essentially the same as putting a Full-Stop NO on the communication. Ditch the no, and focus back on number 1: Yes, AND…
Strive for this! Yes, and...

Strive for this! Yes, and…

These are just some of the things that the improv class helped us understand about effective communication, but we know that this is not the be all and end all, so here are some other resources that you can browse to help make conversations more interesting, more effective, and more meaningful than what I’m sure some us practice on a daily basis.

Have other tips for U of T grads on being a better communicator? Shoot us a message, or comment below, we’d love to hear what you have to say :)

 

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?

 

source:google

source:google

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.

 

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