Monday, July 27th, 2020...11:47 pm

Making Connections as a New Graduate Student

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By: Michelle Bancroft, GradLife Ambassador

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Recently on our GradLife Facebook page, I ran a poll to see what incoming graduate students were most excited for. Interestingly, “learning more about your area of study” and “meeting new people” tied for first place. Even though exploring your area of study is important, I am happy that many students also recognize how graduate school can be a fantastic way to meet other incredible people who share your interest in higher education, and many other areas.
When I started last September attending orientation week activities was of utmost importance to me, and I would highly recommend it. The virtual events that GradLife, Student Life, your departments, and UofT as a whole will be putting on can start a great foundation for future connections. Many of these events can be found through logging onto CLNx.  Additionally, these events can introduce you to the many diverse and exciting co-curricular programming that the university offers. Many of the connections I made were through in-person sessions, but as we shift to online events and classes it’s still important and possible to make these same connections with other students!


Fresh back from 6 months in Central / South America, my orientation introduced me to the Center for International Experience (CIE) Language Exchange events.  At first, this co-curricular activity was run Friday afternoons in the OISE building, but now it has migrated to an online platform mid-day on Thursdays. This group has allowed me to connect with people from all around the world and practice new languages and learn about different cultures by student instructors who have strong ties to each of the language groups they facilitate. Through the virtual platform, there are small breakout groups for one or two languages, and they allow you to form friendships with other students also interested in learning or enhancing another language.

Additionally, I was introduced to MoveU another student-run co-curricular group that does fantastic volunteer work at all three campuses of UofT. As a MoveU volunteer, I signed up to lead 5-10minute stretch breaks in various lecture rooms guiding students and staff through a much-needed movement break throughout their lecture. This was not only fun but also gave me an opportunity to meet professors and students outside of my department. As the university moves towards more online lecturing, this organization may also be moving towards virtual breaks and other departments and groups are continually looking for people comfortable to lead stretch breaks virtually.

On my orientation tour of the campus, I learned about the Multi-Faith Center on St. George campus and the interesting programming they offer. Not only do they have many different faith group gatherings, but they also host nondenominational and interfaith gatherings and discussions. I even did a mug paint night there, where we engaged in discussions about everything from religion to favourite sports teams! Later I took the Mind Fit Student Facilitator Training course which gave me co-curricular recognition on my transcript, the opportunity to lead meaningful Mindful Meditation sessions throughout the St. George campus (and now online), and the introduction to the fantastic individuals within my training session. Furthermore, the Multi-Faith Center hosts many retreats and other events that are great for meeting fellow UofT students!

 I hope I have contributed to your excitement of joining the UofT Graduate Student family! I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment here, on our Facebook group, or on Twitter about other aspects you’re excited for and ways that you can connect with the university and other students! Remember, even with more classes and events becoming virtual that doesn’t mean you can’t still form incredible friendships, relationships, and bonds with other graduate students!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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