June 13th, 2018

Grad Students. Stop and Recognize your Accomplishments.

At this point in your academic career, there will be expectations of you, whether that comes from your family, your supervisor, your peers, or yourself.  You’ve been developing a CV that lists your professional development and impressive “accomplishments” that may be major or minor. There may not be time in your life now to focus on much else.  

But to limit your concept of accomplishment to career milestones is being too harsh on yourself, because most likely there are things unwritten in your CV that bring you fulfillment.

In this context, to “build a ladder” is an intuitive concept — setting short-term goals and achieving them are analogous to climbing the rungs of a ladder.  

Climbing the ladder may mean trying to reach a long-term goal that seems out of sight now, but as you gradually work your way up the ladder you will finally see that destination. Perhaps an even more important aspect of building this ladder is that it is self-propagating, i.e. you are the one building the ladder rather than simply climbing it.  In other words, you are in control of your life. You are also free to make adjustments in the placements of your ladder steps that may mean ending up in a career that you had not originally planned but have regardless built up to. Finally, in building this ladder upwards, you cannot go back down. In building a ladder with personal accomplishments, whether big or small, you can pull yourself out of the darkest pits (I’m talking about you, depression) and get yourself further and further away from that darkness.  

As we build our personal ladders, the community would love to hear about your accomplishments as well — spread the positivity!  There is an Accomplishments Board in the Grad Room for you to do so. Be sure to check it out and contribute. All accomplishments are worth mentioning! 


June 7th, 2018

10 Recommended Study/Work Cafés for the Busy Grad Student

Need to get some work done over the weekend but at home just isn’t an option? Libraries are great, but they’re not for everyone all the time (i.e. when HUNGRY, since food/drink is often not permitted).  So, I have compiled a list of 10 Recommended Study/Work Cafés that you can explore and hopefully get a productive session in!

  1. Green Grotto- Bay / St. Joseph or Bay / Grosvenor
    Part of a chain, these two locations are fairly close to each other, both just a bit east of Queen’s Park Circle.  This Taiwanese restaurant café offers a large selection of bubble teas and other drinks and even food (i.e. not just muffins or cookies, but full meals as well like noodles and curry rice, etc.). Of course, they have dessert too.

    The locations are also equipped with free wifi and outlets. As for the atmosphere, they have background music but the overall atmosphere is peaceful as many other customers are working away on their laptops as well.  They’re open late, and there are other branch options as well if you’re a commuter in the Markham/Scarborough area.

    In conclusion, GG has everything a graduate student needs (except money).

    For hours & menu:  http://en.greengrotto.ca/#/restaurant
  2. Charidise Baldwin

    Another Taiwanese restaurant serving drinks, food, and dessert, Charidise is great for studying because of its close proximity to the south end of campus and its large venue.  You can either order with the cashier or use the touch screen to generate your order and then pay the cashier.

    There is free wifi, many outlets, a couple of big individual washrooms, background music, and quite a bit of space between you and the next guy.

    Con:  I’ve never seen bubble tea as expensive… this can be remedied by purchasing a lunch combo from the given options. And, I suppose you’re paying for the study space.

    For hours & menu:  https://www.charidise.com/
  3. Crimson Teas Spadina / College

    A different sort of asian  tea restaurant, Crimson Teas is peaceful and artistic and consequently appeals to many studious individuals.

    As an independent store promoting health, both the food items and great tea selection are specialties. Healthy also means no bubbles in your tea (i.e. no tapioca). However, wifi and outlets are a yes.

    Disclaimer: Be sure not to come here short on time (or hangry), as the food can take a while to prepare as sometimes the owner is by himself.  But he’s a really kind guy who may take an interest in your studies. In addition, space is limited and it’s very popular among students, so I hope you’re able to get a seat because this place is a great afternoon study spot.

    For hours & menu: www.crimsonteas.com/
  4. Green BeaneryBathurst / Bloor

    Quite a bit further from campus but something on the north-west side, Green Beanery is generally quieter in the day and pretty busy in the evenings, so it’s a nice place to venture off to if you’ve got a longer break.

    They serve only 100 varieties of roasted and unroasted coffees, as well as other favourite classics, breakfast foods, sandwiches and salads.  

    There’s no wifi as part of their “café culture” so bring your books. No social media distraction here! There are outlets by the window counter though.

    For hours & menu:  https://greenbeanery.ca/
  5. Slanted Door Bloor / Borden

    This art gallery/lounge/cafe is quite new, and it has a wonderful atmosphere to motivate your studying.  

    The place is also very clean and modern. Local artwork is showcased here! There are quite a few seats to enjoy your café beverage and eclectic healthy snack items.  However, only a couple of spots have an outlet, so plan your work/study materials accordingly. On a similar note, some of the tables are petite and seat 1 or 2 people, so leave your most distracting friends behind.  

    They also open pretty early, at 8:30am.  Better check it out before it gains too much popularity.

    For menu & hours:  https://slanteddoor.ca/
  6. Voodoo Child Bathurst / College

    That skull cup is adorable.

    Anyway, Voodoo is a small espresso & cocktail bar with a minimalist menu including a few baked goods and nice beverages (and weekend brunch).  

    Despite its limited space and liquor license, it isn’t that full during the day, and the atmosphere is calming.  This café also caters more to traditional pen-and-paper notetakers (or as long as your laptop battery can last). And unlike most Toronto restaurants, this place opens at 7:30 am for you early birds.

    They’re too hipster for a website domain, so here’s their FB for the hours:  https://www.facebook.com/Voodoo-Child-194163417383931/
  7. Jimmy’s Coffee McCaul / Elm

    Jimmy’s Coffee has six locations in Toronto but the most accessible one for UofT students is the one on McCaul (especially if you’re living at the 222 Elm residence).

    It has a nicer atmosphere than big chain coffee shops and more sophisticated blends of coffee.  And if you’re not into coffee, you can have a tea. There are some croissants and other baked snacks to go along with your drink of choice.

    For hours and locations:  www.jimmyscoffee.ca/
  8. Aroma Espresso BarBathurst / Bloor

    Although it’s a coffee chain, only this location is really accessible for UofT students, and it’s nice and spacious.

    Being big also means free wifi and outlets and competitive pricing.  (Sandwiches under $5 are so rare these days…) Other benefits of Aroma include their healthy Mediterranean-inspired food menu and extensive beverage menu. Therefore, I think they deserve a spot on this list.

    For menu & hours:  https://aroma.ca/
  9. Stay Cafeteria Spadina / Nassau

    Stay’s menu is largely Chinese but can also be described as fusion (e.g. UFO Cheese Kimchi Rice; probably their most filling food item).  It has a similar vibe to 1 Hour Cafeteria just up the road (Spadina / College) but is more suitable for studying because it’s not as busy and you don’t have to subconsciously worry about being allowed to stay for more than an hour.  

    As with the similar restaurant cafés, there are outlets along the walls, free wifi, and Asian background music. The food and drink menus are decently sized.

    However, there is some inconsistency with quality across the menu.  That is to say, it’s a little expensive and some menu items are better than others in my opinion.  (Recommendation: rose tea, blueberry smoothie.) But for getting work done, the atmosphere is perfectly fine for that.

    For menu & hours:  https://staycafeteria.com/
  10. Dark Horse Espresso Bar  Spadina / Sullivan

    If looking from the outside, don’t let the “dark”, “bar”, and a red star fool you into thinking that this place is some grungy bar.  Quite the contrary, it is fancy, spacious, and the large windows make everything bright and warm.

    This location is a bit farther from campus and your latte art may take a while to prepare.  The environment is usually quite suitable for staying and doing work, however. There have been reports of baristas turning up the music very loudly, so you may have to get lucky.

    For food and drink, Dark Horse offers espresso, a cold-brew, and other café beverages, as well as baked goods that have a similar quality as Starbucks.

    If this place suits your fancy, there are also two other downtown locations further south, and multiple Toronto sites as well.

    For hours & locations: http://www.darkhorseespresso.com/

And that’s it (for now)! If there are any other places that you would want me to mention, please let me know and there might be a continuation to this list!



May 28th, 2018

Introducing our new Gradlife Ambassador who Shares his take on Getting Involved

There is extensive research showing strong correlation between students’ academic performance and their quality of life. Having done an undergraduate and Master’s at UofT, and currently a PhD candidate in Physiology, I have come to genuinely appreciate that academic success is profoundly influenced by our satisfaction of graduate life.

My Story: I first connected with graduate students across campus through opportunities at the Mentorship Resource Center. I realized that, although we welcomed the various resources and programs, we often felt overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. Unfortunately, I feel that a disconnect with our community will restrict us from achieving the fulfilling graduate life that we all seek.

But things can be different! GradLife is here.

The goal of GradLife is to help you embrace graduate life through various outlets, such as Grad Escapes and Grad Talks, which are two key initiatives that helped me a lot during my grad studies. GradEscapes offer a wide array of activities to help grad students de-stress and connect to campus life. Just this past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet some of you at the ROM tour. I hope you all liked it as much as I did, and perhaps even learned something that you thought was interesting. Personally, I didn’t know that the ROM had real mummies! GradTalks help you build critical skills that may not be emphasized in your academic program through structured curriculum.

I will keep in regular touch to let you know more about these valuable programs. Be sure to also visit the GradLife site, Facebook, and Twitter to get all the latest updates about these and more! If you have any questions, feel free to email us at gradlife@utoronto.ca. Additionally, I will connect with you through the GradLife Blog, where I talk about topics relevant to UofT graduate life. By commenting on these blog posts, we can start a dialogue. Is there a topic that you want covered? Or like what you read? We welcome all suggestions, feedback, and comments.

Remember that you are not alone!

Often times, we might feel that we are traveling our graduate journey in solitude. By reaching out and effectively communicating the available offerings, I hope to make an impact as Gradlife Ambassador by connecting people here at UofT.

See you all soon,


March 6th, 2018

Deals You Can Get With Your UofT Student Card

Written by Cricia Rinchon, Recent Gradlife Ambassador

Studying (particularly downtown) can get really expensive. Between Toronto and our neighbouring university city, Hamilton, there is supposedly a 212.42% price difference per kilo of potatoes! This number may or may not be an exaggeration, but the cost of living in Toronto is undoubtedly more expensive. Don’t miss out on these deals that you can get with your UofT student card…


Don’t miss out on these deals that these grocery stores give to anyone with a student card:

15% OFF AT METRO at the Bloor/ Spadina location on Wednesday and Thursday

10% OFF AT BULK BARN on Wednesdays

10% OFF SOBEYS any item any day

Don’t feel like cooking one day? Insomnia (563 Bloor Street W) has 20% OFF of all meals on weekdays! It’s a bit West of campus, but a lot of students vouch that their selection and portion sizes are well worth the walk.


TTC — FREE AFTER 40 RIDES. Are you travelling around Toronto? There is no Presto or cash fare discount on the TTC for post-secondary school students other than a post-secondary Metropass; however, if you know you’re going to take the TTC more than 40 times in a month, a post-secondary monthly pass would be worth it. To get one, you have to obtain a TTC Post-secondary Photo ID card at Sherbourne subway station.

GO Transit — 18.40% OFF FIRST 30 RIDES/ MONTH, FREE AFTER 40+ RIDES. Travelling around the GTA? Be sure to fill out the Student ID Request online, you’ll just need to know your UofT student number, and then get your Presto card set up with the student concession.

Greyhound — 25% OFF W/ ISIC. Traveling outside of the GTA? International Student Identity Card (ISIC) cards aren’t only for International Students; it’s actually called an International Student Identity Card because you can use it globally. As UTGSU is part of the Canadian Federation of Students, you are eligible to get your ISIC card for free at the UTGSU office! Through it you can get discounts on travel, merchandise, and services throughout the world.


Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) — FREE ON TUESDAYS. The ROM (100 Queen’s Park Ave) is just East of the Varsity Centre and permits general admission to post-secondary students. General admission includes access to all four-stories (but excludes special exhibits).

Art Gallery of Ontario — FREE AFTER 3 PM ON WEDNESDAYS. The AGO (317 Dundas St W) is a 10 minute walk from the South of campus. In addition to the works of art, there’s free programing for students aged 18-25 during weekday evenings. Participate in tie dying, break dancing workshops, and create with clay and ceramics!

Canadian Opera Company — UNDER $30 TICKETS IF YOU’RE UNDER 30. The Four Seasons Centre is just a 15 minute walk South of campus, and if you are between the ages of 16 to 29 years old (of have a colleague that is!) you can purchase $22 or $35 tickets to COC mainstage performances.

Astro Tour — FREE EVERY MONTH. The Astro Tour (aka the UofT Astronomy Public Tour) takes place right on campus. After a public lecture by a member of the Astronomy Department, you can look at the night sky through their balcony and dome telescopes, or watch a planetarium show run live by astronomer. The next tour will take place on March 1st at 8PM!

Happy $aving,


February 4th, 2018

Career Planning Support for Graduate Students

Written by Cricia Rinchon, Gradlife Ambassador

Last week, the School of Graduate studies excitedly shared the results of the 10 000 PhDs Project, which traced down the employment status of the PhDs who graduated from UofT between 2000 and 2015 in all disciplines. The variety of graduates’ job titles was evident: 59.4% being employed in academia, and the remaining finding jobs mainly in the private, public, and charitable sectors. This suggests that the specialized knowledge and skills obtained from advanced degrees can be successfully transferred to a broad range of professional contexts.

We ranked 5th in the world among public universities for the employability of its graduates, and it looks like a lot of our readers are wondering about how to land that next step. Did you know that one of our most popular blog posts is Tips & Tricks to Nail that Interview? If you’re looking for more career-related support, you’ve stumbled upon the correct post! Grad students are often crunched for time, so there are a few types of offerings to suit your schedule:

Only have time for a coffee chat? Join UofT’s Hub on Ten Thousand Coffees, and ask an alumni expert to connect over coffee. This resource could help you find someone who once had the same favourite cubicle in Robarts and is now where you want to be.

Are you able to attend an afternoon workshop? Interviewing for Work: Learn about interviews outside of academia and how to position your graduate experiences (from teaching to research and writing) effectively to potential employers in an authentic way. [FEB 5, 1 PM – 4 PM]

Are you willing to dedicate a full day? There are offerings from the Career Centre that take you through all the necessary steps in landing a job:

  1. Career Planning and Exploration: converse with other graduate students about advantages and challenges of labour market research, informational interviewing, and job-shadowing. [FEB 22, 9 AM – 4 PM]
  2. Job Search and Applications Day: discuss job search strategies, and build customized application documents alongside other graduate students. [FEB 23, 9 AM – 4 PM]

Best of luck,


January 24th, 2018


Written by Joanne Liu, Leadership Programming Development Assistant

In light of the Women’s March this past weekend, I’ve been reflecting on ways that women’s role in leadership have evolved over the years. In a December 2010 TedTalk, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, talked about the slow progress of empowering women in leadership. She recalled pitching a business deal in New York City, and during a bio break finding out that the firm partner did not know where the women’s washroom was. Now eight years after that speech, I wonder… what progress has been made?

Although I understand leadership to be a way of influence rather than a formal title one holds, the numbers continue to suggest that more needs to be done. In fact, an annual report by global talent management firm Rosenzweig & Company revealed that in 2017 women held 9.02% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 companies. This coincides with a continuous steady increasing trend over time, but a statistic that many still believe to be unsatisfactory. More closer to home, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a study in 2017 that revealed Toronto performs slightly above average when it comes to the presence of women in leadership positions; however, women still only hold 39% of management positions. Having space to explores issues of gender inequality and ways to support the development and advancement of women in leadership is key.

How does U of T create space for speaking about women in leadership?

Join us on Thursday, March 8th from 12:00 P.M. till 2:00 P.M. in women’s leadership event where students, faculty, alumni and administration will have the chance to come together to enjoy food and conversation. The event is intended for students to discuss their personal leadership style and the ways in which they are affected or enhanced by gender. The main question being: “What does community, allyship and support look like for women in 2018?”

How can I get involved?

  1. Register for UofT’s LeadHERship Conference. For more information on how to attend this event, check out our website. Registration closes on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 9 A.M.
  2. Join the Conversation. There are many hashtags on social media that track and encourage this trending social change, such as #WomenLeaders, that you can keep up to date with or even contribute to yourself!

I leave you with this thought that has always challenged me to think of ways I can create an inclusive community:

“The difference between community and a thriving one
is the presence of the women who are valued.”

– Michelle Obama




January 15th, 2018

Virtual Campus Tour 2018

Written by: Cricia Rinchon, GradLife Ambassador
Photograph by: Makeda Marc-Ali

Hope you’ve enjoyed your first week [back] at UofT! For those of you new to campus, or who are returning to campus but want to know more about the resources available to grad students, have a look at our Virtual Campus Tour Map. You can get Administrative Support, from the School of Graduate Studies, which is on the same street as the Centre for International Experience. There are also places for Graduate-Specific Support such as 21 Sussex (where the GradLife office is!) and the Graduate Students Union Services Building. Finally, don’t limit yourself and be sure to also check out more general Student Life Support, such as Hart House, the Koffler Building, or the Multi-Faith Centre. Go ahead, click around to learn about what’s offered at each space!

You may also notice the section “Places to Explore”, which highlights the locations of famous spaces at UofT, and with this post we’d like to introduce our Photo Contest!

How do you enter?

Step 1: Take a photo of the interior or exterior of one of the following places:

  • Convocation Hall
  • University College
  • Knox College
  • Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research
  • Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building

Step 2: Tweet the photo @UofTGradLife with the hashtag #UofTCampusTour2018 before 11:59 PM on January 31st.

Step 3: Wait until the winner is announced on February 5th! The winner will be drawn randomly (each photo = 1 entry) for a $10 Starbucks gift card.  

If you have any questions, send us a message on Facebook or Twitter (@UofTGradlife). Also, be sure to sign up for the New Graduate Student Orientation on January 23rd! 

Happy exploring,


January 9th, 2018

Navigating utoronto.ca

Written by Cricia Rinchon, GradLife Ambassador
Photo by Jason Krygier-Baum

“Congratulations and welcome [back] to graduate studies at the University of Toronto! The beginning of the year, especially for students moving to Toronto for the first time, can be a disorienting time. We at GradLife are excited to offer services to you in order to ease this transition. As the new GradLife Ambassador, part of my role is to help orient you on these services.” September Welcome Back Blogpost

If this is your first term here at UofT, I’d like to congratulate you on successfully changing your status from “Prospective Student” to “Current Student”. First things first: let’s get oriented on the UTSGS website’s major tabs:

Registration & Enrolment. The difference between registration enrolment is that registration refers to paying tuition and incidental fees, whereas enrolment refers to adding courses. The web interface important to both processes is ACORN (Accessible Campus Online Resource Network). Something important to note is that although you enrol on ACORN, the material for courses is posted on the Learning Portal (often referred to as “Portal”). ACORN is also the interface you use when ordering a transcript, which you’ll need when applying to awards.

Academics. Under this tab you’ll find a quick link the 2017-18 SGS Calendar, which lists Important Sessional Dates. A few key ones to note:

  1. JAN 12: Registration deadline for students registering or starting their program this term.
  2. JAN 22: Final date to add winter session course.
  3. FEB 19: Family Day (university closed), and many students have the 20-23rd off. If you find yourself having more leisure time during this week (although the SGS doesn’t have an official reading week, many graduate unit still cancel classes) be sure to register for our Grad Escape: Trivia Night at Harvest Noon Cafe.
  4. APRIL 30: Tuition deadline to avoid service charges on unpaid fall/winter sessions. Students who have a Major Award, Research Stipend, or Teaching Assistantship and were granted a tuition deferral must pay their tuition by this date.

Enhance Your ExperienceYou’re at UofT and likely a keen student and go-getter in life. Doing the bare minimum isn’t what got you here, so why stop now? You’re probably always thinking about how you can improve not only your weaknesses but also your strengths, planning next steps after graduate school, and keeping up to date with ways you can further your education as an academic and professional. UofT offers many programs that will help you through this like the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication, the Graduate Professional Development team, and the Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) program. Outside of academics, we also offer a lot of wellness support through the GradLife program.

If you have any other questions, feel free to tweet at us @UofTGradLife or send us a message us on Facebook. Be sure to check out the FAQs on the SGS Website as well here.



December 15th, 2017

Winter Activities and Grad Escapes

Written by Cricia Rinchon, GradLife Ambassador

Skating has been a common leisurely winter activity in Toronto, with our first outdoor commercial rink opening as early as the 1800s. Toronto’s newest synthetic ice skating rink is being housed at Ontario Place, where you can also enjoy 12 illuminated exhibits by 20 local artists and illuminated paths with twinkling fairy lights. Additionally, a longstanding Toronto-tradition is the Harbourfront DJ Skate Nights (every Saturday, 8-11pm). You can also skate at Nathan Phillips Square until March, but note that you can only visit their Holiday Fair until 6 pm on December 23rd.

Another holiday market you can’t miss is the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District, ranked one of the best holiday markets in the world by various magazines where you can pick up locally handcrafted souvenirs, listen to live music, and enjoy free wine samples. Be sure to go on a weekday for free admission, and head over before sunset to avoid long lines! 

A less well known Christmas Market that’s open up until the end of this year is Evergreen’s Winter Village (open from 10 am to 5 pm). There you can join a guided hike on the trails through the Don Valley, grab some hand-made souvenirs from the Holiday Etsy Market, and enjoy local treats with a toasty drink around the cozy campfires. If this has piqued your interest but don’t want to do exploring alone, be sure to sign up for our upcoming Grad Escape: Winter Hike to Evergreen Brickworks in the new year!

Other Grad Escapes to watch out for if you’re more of an indoor-person include the Games Night at Bampot House of Tea, Trivia Night at the Harvest Noon Cafe, an Improv Class at The Second City, and Dodgeball at the Athletic Centre. Be sure to visit the GradEscapes page here to learn more. 

Happy Holidays — hope to see you in the New Year,


December 8th, 2017

Leading Together: a Student Leadership Conference

Join us on January 13: Leading Together

Guest Blog by Joanne Lieu, Leadership Programming Development Assistant

The inception of Google began from a disagreement between Larry Page, a prospective graduate student of Stanford University, and Sergey Brin, a student who was assigned to show him around. Despite their differing views, they developed a partnership a little over a year later working from their dorm rooms to build what we would soon know as Google. It could have been the case that Google would have never formed if both students didn’t see the merit in their different views. Fostering an environment that allows disagreements to evolve into innovation is essential for creating leadership.

With the semester coming to a close, how can I cultivate innovation and leadership with others at U of T?

We have you covered.

Join us on Saturday, January 13th from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. at Hart House for “Leading Together” – a student leadership conference planned and presented by student leaders across U of T. The conference will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and community building, with students presenting workshops  about what they’ve learned, practiced, or are curious about.

Our keynote speaker is Peter Limberg, an entrepreneur living in Toronto.  He is the co-founder of Stoicism Toronto and the founder of Intellectual Explorers Club (IEC).

Peter firmly believes we live in a world where we have to interact with people who have different views and beliefs than our own. If constructive dialogue is to ensue, it is critical for leaders to communicate in the spirit of understanding. In his 90 min workshop, future leaders will learn the skills to listen with clarity, communicate forthrightly, and lead with the spirit of joint-discovery. By learning and regularly applying these skills you will develop the characteristics of verbal comprehension, intellectual humility, and principled compassion.

Who are the presenters?

Entirely run by U of T students across campus, we have among the many talented presenters, Alexia Yeo. She will be presenting on Fostering Leadership Skills: Success in the Job Market and Academia.

Alexia understands leadership as a vital skill treasured by many job marketrecruiters and admissions officers. In Alexia’s presentation, she will discuss how she fostered her own leadership skills in order to become a successful candidate for the “big four” consulting job applications and graduate school applications. Alexia’s conference talk will present her use of Olivia Hua’s “Pedagogical Approaches to the Natural Science which includes techniques such as presentations, peer interaction, literature reviews and exposure to new ideas. Alexia will describe how she used these techniques to take ownership and leadership in her own research and community  projects. She will then discuss how she was able to demonstrate her leadership skills through these experiences to become a compelling candidate for recruiters.


Register here or connect with us.

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