Tuesday, January 5th, 2021...2:32 pm

Making the most of your winter semester

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By: Georgia Maxwell, Gradlife Ambassador

photo of a calendar that says winter semester with a red marker on top of it

I don’t know about you, but winter break really flew by for me. I swear just yesterday I handed in my final paper and fell asleep, and now suddenly it’s the start of the next semester!

While your studies will always be the priority, U of T also has tons of amazing extra-curricular and professional development programs on offer, even during this virtual semester, and a great way to make the most of your semester is to try some of them out! Since non-academic opportunities are also an important part of your graduate experience and development, I thought I’d devote this week’s post to some tips and tricks on how to make sure you can get the most out of these great opportunities.

1. Plan ahead

Once school kicks into full gear and you’re suddenly preoccupied with papers, research and jobs, looking out for extra-curricular and personal growth opportunities can easily fall to the wayside. This is why it’s so important to look into all of your options early to see what sort of events and clubs you would like to participate in this semester. While this can be a daunting task, the good news is that just by reading this post, you’ve already started!

Pro Tip: If the events you want to attend are already open for registration, I highly recommend you register now. That way when the time comes you’ll have no excuses not to attend (I only add this in because I have a bad habit of signing up for things and then cancelling at the last minute)

2. Figure out what you want to prioritize this semester

image of a notebook that reads priorities for 2021: Join a new club, career exploration, talk to new people!

The great thing about U of T is that it has a plethora of different academic and non-academic opportunities. At the same time, however, all this choice can be overwhelming. Since you’re a busy grad student, you can’t join everything (although that would be nice) so it’s important you do some preliminary research to see what catches your eye and what you have time for. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some of the upcoming Gradlife Events you can peruse, as well as the Gradlife Calendar on CLNx!

Grad Escape Weekly Coffee Hour Starting January 22nd, we will be running a weekly coffee and crafts hour where Grad students can come hang out and build community!

Grad Escape Virtual Games Night Thanks to popular demand, our Games Nights are coming back for the winter semester! It’s the perfect event for those who love to play games and want to get to know other Grad students

Gradlife Calendar To see what else Gradlife has in store for this semester, check out our full calender and register for upcoming events!

3. Start your 2021 calendar early and update it often

As you sign up for events, it’s a good idea to add them into your calendar. While it might seem like you’ll remember everything, and adding things into your calendar is arguably a hassle (at least I find it to be), in a couple of weeks you’ll be very happy you did; especially if you set reminders for all of your events.

4. Attend something new with someone new

screenshot of a text conversation. The first person asked "Hey! Would you want to check out the Gradlife Coffee hour with me?" and the second person responds, "I'd love to!"

Do you want to join something new this semester but you find the prospect daunting? Do you want to make new connections but you’re not sure how to do that? Why don’t you do both at the same time! A lot of people find it difficult to join new things alone, so the good news is that you’re not the only person who feels this way. If you made a class friend or a research buddy last semester, and you want to make sure you stay in touch, why don’t you ask them if they’ll attend an event with you? That way you won’t be joining alone, and you might even make a new friend out of it!

Reaching out to new people, however, is easier said than done. Since a lot of people find this to be difficult (myself included), we created our Talking to New People Workshop for Grad students, which will be running on January 27th from 12 pm- 1:30 p EST. In our workshop, we’ll teach you how to make new connections, and how to manage the fear and anxiety that comes along with it. Registration is now open!

I hope you’ve found this week’s post helpful, or at the very least inspiring! Whether or not you follow any of these tips, or decide to sign up for some extra-curricular events, I hope you have a fun and fulfilling winter semester!

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