Getting involved with conferences

My reading week was split into two tasks: (a) grading midterms for the class I TA, and (b) presenting at an conference in Michigan. I’ve been at UofT for five years, but this is my first year applying to conferences. Upon reflecting, I wish I had done so earlier, and I want to spend this blog post trying to convince you to at least consider applying to conferences (even if you don’t plan to continue into higher higher-education!).

Photo of woman buried under stacks of paper with a general look of anguish and despair playing across her downtrodden face.

Basically me grading midterms [source]

Why apply to conferences? There are a few good reasons. First, it’s a great opportunity to get feedback on your work. A prof’s comments on an assignment can only go so far. Here, you can have a number of people providing important insights on your work that you might not have gotten otherwise. Second, it’s a great way to practice presentation skills. Whether you’re planning on staying in school, or going into the work force, presentation skills are valuable. Third, it’s a great way to network and meet people you may be studying or working with in the future. And finally, it’s a chance to explore new ideas from other people. (It also looks good on a resume or CV, if you’re into that sort of thing).

Am I good enough for a conference? Despite what you may think, you probably are! Firstly, conferences usually have more lax criteria than do journals, and are in part there to provide you with a platform for testing out your work in progress, as much as sharing it. Secondly, while you might want to apply to specific or big conferences (and there’s nobody stopping you!), there are a lot of undergraduate conferences out there dedicated to accepting only undergraduate work. So you can feel safer amongst your peers. Don’t think your GPA has any bearing on how you can perform at a conference, and know that it’s OKAY to present a not-so-perfect paper. That’s how we learn, and that’s how we improve.

What if I’m a poor public speaker? That’s okay too! Most of these conferences are great learning experiences for speaking practice, but you should also note that many conference speakers (even professionals) will read off their pages or prompts, as much as they’d like to do otherwise. Nobody has high expectations of speakers in reality. Don’t put yourself down and out of the count: you can take this as an opportunity to improve!

Can I afford it? UofT likes to brag about it’s accomplished researchers and to facilitate thinking, even in its undergraduates: there are many resources available. Most colleges and departments have some travel funds to help with the cost of travel and lodging, and some of the conferences themselves might have some assistance available on request. If you’re a full time arts & sciences student, you can also apply for travel support from the Arts and Sciences Student’s Union. Finally, you can often skip the hotel fees for another student’s couch.

photo of child on a surfboard on a couch. A little too literal if you ask me.

Not this kind of couch surfing, mind you. [source]

How do I find a conference for me? UofT holds a number of undergraduate conferences run by student clubs and course unions: try asking around! Beyond that, some disciplines have websites specifically for collecting CFPs (Calls For Papers) and CFAs (Calls For Abstracts) where you can find out. I’ve even found Facebook groups dedicated to sharing conference calls within subdisciplines. But, if you’re in doubt, you might want to try asking your department’s undergraduate coordinator or your professors: they’re also often in the know.

That’s it for me trying to convince you. Maybe in upcoming weeks I’ll talk about the actual process: it can be nerve-wracking I know. But hopefully you’re at least thinking about the option.

Where to Hang Out in Tokyo

Tokyo’s hangout spots are overwhelmingly diverse. In terms of music, atmosphere, and menu, there is a venue to match almost anyone’s taste. Since there are few social spaces on the University of Tokyo’s campus, most socializing instead takes place in one of the surrounding neighbourhoods. In this post, I’ll share some of the spots that I’ve checked out with other University of Tokyo students since getting here.

1. Shibuya

Shibuya is popular amongst University of Tokyo students, largely because of its close proximity to campus. It only takes ten minutes to get from here:

This image shows a tree-lined corridor at the University of Tokyo's Komaba campus. It is dusk.

The University of Tokyo’s Komaba Campus.

to here:

This image shows Shibuya's crossing at night. It is surrounded by tall buildings featuring extensive neon signage.

Shibuya [source]

It’s home to countless restaurants and music venues, many of which are affordably priced for the students who go to its surrounding universities.

2. Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa is another favourite haunt for many University of Tokyo students, again because of its close proximity to campus. It’s a cozy neighbourhood characterized by winding streets and outdoor speakers playing laid-back music. An abundance of curry restaurants and independent cafés also define the neighbourhood, and attract Tokyoites from all over the city. Some friends and I have a favourite curry joint that we visit once every few weeks.

3. Shinjuku

Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s busiest districts. Its central train station services ten different lines from five different train operators, and sees an average of 3.64 million passengers per day.

Shinjuku at night.

Shinjuku at night.

This area is farther away from campus than the other two, but its exciting bustle and central location make it a popular hangout spot. Its Golden-Gai (ゴールデン街) area is a particularly fun place to explore with friends. It consists of six narrow streets that collectively contain over 200 small izakaya, i.e. tapas restaurants like Guu Izakaya on Bloor Street, many of which feature highly specific themes and music. A friend and I celebrated the end of our first semester in this area. We ended up sitting next to a University of Tokyo alumnus, who was eager to share stories from his student days.

This image shows a narrow street lined with neon signs. It is part of a street in Shinjuku District's Golden-Gai area.

A Glimpse of Golden-Gai. [source]

4. Kichijoji

Lastly, the Kichijoji neighbourhood boasts a number of music (especially jazz) venues and delicious restaurants. It’s also close to many of the university’s dormitories, which is particular important when going out at night here. Tokyo’s public transport system does not accommodate nightlife, especially live shows, as well as many other major cities’; most bus routes and train lines shut down around midnight, which means that going out at night often requires heading home shortly after eleven, or staying out until five in the morning when the first trains run. Kichijoji’s proximity to the dormitories allows for an easy walk home. I can say from experience that being stranded until five in the morning is an unpleasant experience.

I hope this post offers a glimpse into some of the popular hangout spots amongst UTokyo students. If you have any questions, please comment below!

March-ing Towards Student Government

As the second half of the semester begins, we are soon approaching the very political month of March.

This is because March is typically the month when most branches of student government hold their elections. There is going to be as much campaigning around campus as there is going to be snow coming from the heavens.

“Student government” – what exactly is it?
If you googled the term like I obviously did, it would say that it is an entity that is created to provide students the experience and training in the democratic form of the government. Members of student government are the people who shape all student life. Whether it is in the form of hosting programs around the campus, supporting other student club, or relaying recommendations and opinions to the university administration on behalf of the student body – student government is an extremely important part of U of T.

I am personally very involved in student government. Like I’ve mentioned before, among many other roles, I am the Male Head of Non-Resident Affairs at Trinity College. To put it simply, that means that I am the Co-President of the commuter students at Trin. I work together with 5 other Heads in a team to ensure that the College’s entire student body is satisfied with their time here. Essentially, we act as student dons. Consequently, I go to at least 500 meetings a week (whether it is Finance Committee, the TCM, meeting with the Dean, etc), and I am responsible for using student levies in an effective manner. Okay, I was exaggerating about the meetings, but it’s still quite a lot of work.

But it’s worth it.

Student government covers a wide array of student organizations.
In its most clear form, it can be student unions such as the Arts and Science Student Union (ASSU) or the University of Toronto Student Union (UTSU). It can be in the form of course unions such as the Anthropology Students’ Association (ASA) or Charles’ favourite, the Philosophy Course Union (PCU). It can also be in the form of groups such as the Black Students’ Association that represent certain individuals within the student body. Student government can be anything and everything. Basically, a dream is a wish your heart makes.

The election banner for ASSU. The nominations open on February 23rd, and the forms are due back on March 12th at 6PM. The actual elections occur on March 20th.

It’s time.

So why should you do it?
To validate your existence. No, I’m almost entirely joking. Student government is a great way to prepare yourself for the dreaded ~*~*real world*~*~

Which is objectively the most terrifying thought in any millennial’s mind.

It allows you to gain skills in working with other people. Through the magic of democracy (and Robert’s Rules), you learn that you don’t have to shout at one other in order to compromise. Eventually, you’ll be able to eloquently express any argument no matter how silly it seems. Moreover, in balancing your commitments, you’ll be forced to learn the witchcraft that is time management!  Finally, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) – involvement in student government in the university level is great to have on your CV, and you’ll be given many opportunities to network with your peers and other professionals.

If you're a part of ASSU, you get to organize magical Taylor Swift themed events. Again, what do you have to lose?

If you’re a part of ASSU, you get to organize magical Taylor Swift themed events. I promiste that student government can be fun!

You’ll be able to have input on institutional structures, and make equitable changes to them. You’ll be able to make a real change in the lives of students. Also, you’ll be able to run awesome events for everyone while participating in them as well! Most importantly, you’ll be able to see just how campus life is created and maintained.

U of T, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So, why not? Remember to check ROSI from time-to-time to vote!

#TryitUofT: Facing fears and finding #JoyatUofT

Even though we’re 6 weeks from the end of the school year I’ve been feeling really nostalgic about this past year lately. Looking back at my year so far I’ve realized that I did a lot of stuff this year that I had either never even thought of (U of T Art Centre, HH Get crafty), or had been meaning to do since first year (Allan Gardens, Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, Soldiers Tower).

huge wallks of books illumiated by lights in the middle and on pillars, in front of these shelbves are glass showcases showing other books. I’d been meaning to go to the Rare Books Libary since first year and finally did this past summer.

Overall I just explored more of U of T as a whole this year and found some really cool places that I hadn’t known about before (like the bamboo garden in the Donnelly Centre and the paper airplane graveyard at Bahen). an indoor bamboo garden is shown, lots of plants frame a wooden platform with bencheslooking down at a curved staircase, there are lots of paper airplanes on a ledge near the staircase

A big reason why I embraced #TryitUofT this year was because of this job. Having blog posts to write and instagrams to post really helped me get more involved and see more of U of T than I had in my first two years here. A big part of getting more involved was stepping out of my comfort zones and saying yes to things that I normally might shy away from. One of the scariest things that I said yes to was being on a panel during Kickstart this September. I actually really enjoyed being on the panel though and  even did it again during Fall Campus Day.  5 chairs are set up in a line in front of colourful artwork

a screenshot of a tweet that says "have you picked up the @lifeatuoft book yet? @amie_uoft, @api_uoft, and I are loving it! #lifeatuoft!" underneath the tweet is a picture of three girls posing and holding a view book.

also being in a book that got sent out to most of the incoming students was #terrifying

a girl stands facing artwork on a wall, the picture is shot from behind so we see her back and the artwork

Thank you kickstart panel for introducing me to the U of T Art Centre

Doing things like the Kickstart and Fall Open House panels really helped me broaden my comfort zone. In March I’m going to represent my proogram at the Spring Open house, something that I may not have said yes to without trying so many new things this year.

Now that summer is coming up I’m applying for jobs and internships I’m reminding myself of how much fun I’ve had this year by doing “one thing that scares you everyday.”

Speaking of applying for jobs, the Office of Student Life has posted the applications for next year’s Community Crew! This job has lead to me meeting so many cool people (see above) and doing so many cool things, I totally recommend it!

Reading and Traveling

I’ve loved Japanese literature since I was a high school student in Hiroshima. I’ve continued to read in between my stays in Japan, both as a source of enjoyment and a way of staying connected; no matter where I am, Japanese literature offers insight into some of the places and points in history that I’m interested in. I have far more recommendations than will fit in this post, so instead I’ll just share three of the books that have particularly enriched my time in Japan.

    1. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is one of Japan’s most internationally recognized authors. My Japanese homestay brother introduced me to him when he gave me a copy of his Norwegian Wood in high school. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just say that it’s a sort of coming of age novel following introverted protagonist Toru Watanabe’s personal and interpersonal (especially romantic) struggles throughout his college years. It’s set in 1960s’ Tokyo, and, although fictional, alludes to a number of events that really took place in Japan; Watanabe paints a vivid picture of what it was like to be a student in Tokyo at the time. One of my professors last semester happened to graduate from the University of Tokyo around the end of the 1960s. During lecture he shared a few stories describing what it was like to be a student at the time, and I was amazed by how similar they were to Watanabe’s descriptions. On top of being a brilliant, albeit melancholic, story, Norwegian Wood has enriched my time at the University of Tokyo by offering insight into some of the historical events that have shaped the university. On a more personal level, I empathize with a lot of Watanabe’s thoughts and feelings as a young and sometimes confused student.

Trần Anh Hùng’s 2007 film adaptation compliments the novel nicely.

    2. Kokoro by Natsume Soseki

Natsume Soseki wrote most of his works during the Meiji era (1868-1912), a time in which Japan was at a cultural crossroad; after being relatively closed to trade for about 250 years, Japan opened its trade ports, and allowed for an influx of Euro-American influence. Today, Tokyo’s skyline is a lasting symbol of this era and Japan’s rapid Westernization therein. Kokoro’s protagonist Sensei reflects on the era as someone who witnessed Japan’s radical change. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, so I’ll just say that Sensei tells a fascinating story involving the impact that foreign influence had on him and his individual values. Now, I’m always reminded of Sensei’s story when I travel between Japan’s countryside, which bears fewer traces of Euro-American influences, and Tokyo’s metropolitan urban districts. In this way reading Kokoro has given me a new way of contextualizing Tokyo during my year on exchange.

3. Hitching Rides with Buddha by Will Ferguson

The categorical boundaries of “Japanese literature” are a little blurry. For instance, does a work need to be written in Japan and in the Japanese language in order to be “Japanese literature?” Or does it just need to be set in Japan? These questions perhaps point to the problem of defining art in terms of the nation. At any rate, in its broadest sense, I see Canadian writer Will Ferguson’s Japanese travel memoir, Hitching Rides with Buddha, as belonging loosely to this category. Ferguson tells a story of his attempt to hitchhike his way through Japan, from south to north. I read the story at a time when I encountered culture shock on a daily basis. Ferguson’s memoir was relatable, and helped ease my concern that I was alone in experiencing these forms of culture shock. He provides hilarious accounts of his mishaps and miscommunications, which reminds me to not take my own cultural faux pas too seriously – just to learn from them, laugh at them, and move on.

Anyway, these are just some of the books that have made my exchanges more enjoyable and rewarding. I hope they can do the same for yours!

Find Your Love

Hello friends! Reading Week has come to an end, but I hope everyone had a productive and/or fun week to catch up and/or relax!

As much as I would like to talk about my own Reading Week for this post, there are only so many words I can use to describe “Slept for 8+ hours a day, not including naps.”  For some fun Reading Week shenanigans definitely check out what Amie, Rachael and Ondiek have been up to.

The first day of Reading Week was a holiday that many people have very strong opinions about: VALENTINE’S DAY!

Picture of Api with animated hearts floating around her head

Love is in the air!

Unfortunately my Valentine’s Day plans weren’t as great as I’d hoped, so for this week’s post, I am going to switch it up and share my feelings through an open letter to my (former) Valentine:

Dear Netflix,

To be honest, I’ve never been into extravagant plans on Valentine ’s Day, but I’ve never been one to think of this holiday as a corporate, over-commercialized, capitalist holiday either. What I do like is the idea behind it. Celebrating love.

We both know that Valentine’s Day is not just about loving significant others but also about loving everyone in our lives. But, I feel like I don’t have the time to love. Because of you Netflix, I feel smothered. I feel like you’re taking over my life. I want to love other things. I want to love my studies, my student groups, and my job. I want my life back. I want to explore my own interests, not just what YOU recommend.

Picture of Netflix default user face. Green Square with 2 dots for eyes and a line for smile.

Just when I think I’m out, that face pulls me back in.

I think it’s time for us to see other people. It’s not you, it’s me.

Xoxox. Sincerely,

Api

I’m not going to go too much into my terrible relationship with Netflix. It had its flaws, but in hindsight, the relationship had a lot of great parts too. We had a good run, but it’s time to find new things to fall in love with. In my first year it was a program. Sometimes it was a job. This year, it was a conference. There’s still so much more to explore. The journey ends here for Netflix, because it was holding me back from doing what I truly wanted (like being productive), but it’s just the beginning of a whole new journey!

It’s all about finding the things that you love. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about? So I know I’m going to listen to Drake’s advice. Try to get out there and FIND YOUR LOVE.

Let me know what you’re finding down in the comments or on Twitter at @Api_UofT!

Ice and Events: Reading Week 2015

This is the first Reading Week I’ve spent in Toronto. In both my first two years I flew home to see my parents and my Alberta friends. Last year, Reading Week actually turned out to be more stressful than helpful. I’m making sure this year goes much better!

A wet snowy day, looking down one of the colourful crazy streets of Kensington Market

I think this is from right before reading week 2014, in Kensington Market (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Many of my friends headed home for at least part of this break though. They are lucky ducks! If you live close to Toronto, the travelling might be easier and more restful especially at the height of the winter. I’ve heard some testimony from just outside the city about big snow and even bigger highway jams. I wouldn’t like to be on the road for too long in weather like this!

Looking forward form the passenger seat in a truck, with almost no visibility from all the snow

An Albertan winter highway (Photo by Zachary Biech)

There’s so many ways to spend a week off. Plenty of events take place right after reading week too so we can keep ourselves entertained. On Valentine’s Day, for instance, I volunteered at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto’s craft sale. What a blast! It was great fun with lots of good crafts, good food, and good conversation.

I was also lucky enough to get invited to a birthday party at Nathan Phillips Square. We skated for a couple of hours out in the cold and had hot chocolate (with nutmeg and cinnamon I think) to keep us warm. Skating on good outdoor ice is always a great idea and I highly recommend it. I’ve only skated once per year at U of T so I suggest going more often!

http://physical.utoronto.ca/docs/drop-in-programs-schedules-fees-forms/february-2015-drop-in-skating.pdf?sfvrsn=0

http://nathanphillipssquareskaterentals.com

Me, on skates, out in the middle of the Varsity skating rink

This is me at the Varsity Arena sometime during the 2013-2014 school year (Photo by Heejung Jung)

I have a very interesting assignment due in March for one of my Aboriginal Studies courses. I have to write an essay about an Indigenous event in Toronto and I need to focus on the spiritual aspects of the experience. What a cool class eh? What other department would be nice enough to give us marks for connecting with Toronto’s Indigenous community?

I’m really excited for this project. There are plenty of events coming up that would be perfect for the essay. Next week, First Nations House is hosting a teaching by Elder Andrew Wesley on February 26th about traditional Omushkego Cree Walking Out Ceremonies. It’s a special topic focused on children’s first steps! I can’t wait to check it out. Listening to Andrew is always incredibly enlightening.

Anishnawbe Health is also having a youth Sweat Lodge on February 25th and you can request an invitation to their Sweat Lodge at any time. If you’ve never gone to a Sweat Lodge before, don’t be afraid to check one out!

http://www.aht.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2015/02/25/458/83|93|94|96|97/youth-sweat?Itemid=1

Early March also has plenty of events coming up. The Aboriginal Students’ Association at York University is hosting their 13th Annual All Nations Pow Wow, which also will include movie screenings and a big gala! It’ll be awesome. I haven’t been to a pow wow in a long time so this event is really enticing despite it’s distance from downtown.

What event should I go to? Should I just go to them all so I don’t have to decide?

The Downside of Reading Week

I was looking forward to my week off just a little too much this year. My midterms drained me and I wanted time off.

The truth of the matter is that time does not stop. Everyone else at the University (and in the fabled “real life”) just keeps going.

It is a sobering reminder of my responsibilities.

In case the subtext of this post is not incredibly clear, I have put it off to the last minute. Time is a slippery thing, and it got away from me during this week. I am behind on readings, I am behind on homework, I am behind on everything.

Because I had no responsibilities this week, or rather, because I thought I had no responsibilities this week, I did absolutely nothing and so I was rewarded with absolutely nothing. Ultimately, staying busy, accountable, and just a little bit stressed is better than always being carefree. When you do nothing, you prepare yourself for nothing. Breaks should be tempered with the knowledge of returning from break, and you should come back from a break even more prepared to continue than you were when you left.

I am sure that this will be familiar to everybody who is supporting themselves or others while going to school. In an effort to move this post beyond platitudes, I’m going to list the small changes to my day that I am going to be making to prepare myself for returning to a schedule.

1. Don’t sleep in.

Sleeping in feels great and reminds us all of the better, long-lost time of napping drowsily in amniotic fluid. When it is time again to wake up at 7:30 to make a morning commute, it is going to hit like a sucker-punch. I no longer have the destructive tendency to shift my sleeping habits later and later until I sleep all day and mope all night, but I know that this tendency is common.

2. Go outside.

It is so cold outside today that I cried small shards of ice. But it is important to go outside at regular intervals (even if its only once a day or less) just to keep up the habit of getting out. It feels great to stay at home all week, but the week after you’ll have to go outside again. It would be better to maintain the habit of leaving your home.

3. Keep yourself accountable.

Ultimately, remaining accountable is what this is all about. It may seem a great boon to be able to vanish from the world for a whole nine days, but you’ll have to find a way to integrate yourself back into that world or you’ll be left behind. You don’t need to do what I am doing at all. All you need is to find a way to keep yourself from doing nothing all day and ruining your good habits. Keep yourself accountable by fulfilling your duties and staying ready for going back to school.

Oh, Those Dreaded Overnighters: Why being Sleep Deprived is Not a Sign of Productivity

Like every other U of T student, I have had a lot of assignments due before Reading Week. Given that I don’t have a time machine (I only have iTime 2.0, which doesn’t have the feature to go backward!) I unfortunately have to work with what I have. Time can be cruel.

Consequently, I haven’t been sleeping all that much. You know that student at the back sleeping in class? Yeah I wish I could say that was me, but I haven’t even had the energy to go to class. So next time you see that guy, give them a high-five for at least showing up.

Haley looking tired at work.

Missing Class-Yet Worried about Work-Lifestyle

Haley going extremely tired and stressed.

Missing-Class-to-Finish-School-Lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a coffee in hand, I have been trying to power through my latest onslaught of assignments. Yet, my anxiety has been on high and I have been feeling increasingly depressed .

Why?  most likely because I haven’t been sleeping.

Sleep matters folks.This may seem like an obvious point, but here me out.

According to a recent Huffpost Survey, two-thirds of folks report that getting too little sleep was a major source of stress for them in the past month. Guys, that was including people who were not students! I had to look more into this.

As a history student, I was reading an article the other day, and apparently many back in the day thought sleep was unnecessary. This equation of sleep with unproductivity arguably derived from the work of Thomas Edison:

As Derickson writes in his book Dangerously Sleepy: Overworked Americans and the Cult of Manly Wakefulness, ‘Edison spent considerable amounts of his own and his staff’s energy on in publicizing the idea that success depended in no small part in staying awake to stay ahead of the technological and economic competition. No one, Derickson argues, “’did more to frame the issue as a simple choice between productive work and unproductive rest…’ Over time, children’s books and magazines began to promote this type of Edisonian asceticism… Edison encouraged all Americans to follow his lead, claiming that sleeping eight hours a night was a waste and even harmful. ‘There is really no reason why men should go to bed at all,’ he said in 1914.

This mentality is a complete farce. There is no glory in being sleep deprived.

At the end of the day (literally), a lack of sleep will impact your health. In the short-term it will increase your stress hormones, and in the long term, sleep deprivation is associated with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  

But Haley, sleep takes time! Yes, it does but here is my suggestion: when you feel like you have no choice but to pull an all-nighter, at the very least try to take a short, half-hour nap the next day. Longer naps can lead to drowsiness and could disrupt the nighttime sleep you will have in the evening. For my part, I find that when I take a nap after lunch, my writing performance is much better for the rest of the day.

Haley is smiling

Thinking about Naps.

Worst case scenario,  consider even taking a late penalty and handing the assignment in a day late because it could make all the difference to your mark. By not scrambling to finish a paper and taking those stressful hours to recharge, your increased productivity could lead to a more thoughtful paper and possibly better grade.

Happy Reading Week,

Haley

Exploring Toronto: Allan Gardens

Ah reading week. A time to kick back, relax, and hopefully go on a tropical vacation. Unfortunately the view out my window isn’t currently a beautiful warm paradise but what appears to be a frozen wasteland (I kid, I kid. Toronto I still like you, just not this -40 stuff).

So, in an attempt to make the most out of the magical free time that comes with reading week I decided to head over to Allan Gardens and pretend I was living it up Island-style.a glass greenhouse is seen in the distance. in front of it are 5 bare trees and a whole lot of snowAllan Gardens is over on Carlton Street between Jarvis and Sherbourne, so it’s not a very long walk from campus (although perhaps it’s not the best thing to do in -35 degree weather). Once you’re there it’s so warm and lush and green that the freezing cold walk was worth it.a curving path is in the middle of the picture. on the left side of the path are green plants, pink and red flowers, and a climbing plant that hangs over the path and has red flowers. On the right side are green trees.   I definitely prefer being inside with all the plants than outside with all the snow. snow is seen through a window. in front of the window are tropical plants and trees. orange fruits hangs from bright green branches in front of a blue sky seen through the glass roof. Fruit! Giant palm fronds! Greenery! This place is the perfect remedy for February blues; it reminds you of all the good that is going to come with spring and summer.Slooking up at the domes roof of a greenhouse through the branches of tropical plants and big palm fronds.  orange flowers bloom on green branches against the blue backdrop of the sky seen through the roof of a greenhouse There’s just something about seeing so many flowers in the middle of February that makes everything great. close up of white flowers with pink edges Yeah, this is definitely a tropical paradise. Toronto I love your little hidden gems. green palms and other green tropical plants are illumiated from behind as the sun streams through the glass

What is everyone up to for reading week? What are your favourite staycation spots around Toronto? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @Amie_UofT