Hello September: Play Day and early goal setting

Welcome back everyone! It’s hard to believe it’s September again.

My name is Annette and I’m excited to be a returning contributor to the Life@UofT blog this year. I’ll be continuing to cover all things physical activity and fitness with a weekly post you can expect to be published every Friday.

If you’re new to the blog, hello and welcome! If you like what you find, you can check out the archive to catch up on all the fun we had last year.

A bit about me: I’m a fourth-year student double majoring in Physiology and Biochemistry and minoring in German Studies. I’m absolutely wired right now on account of impending doom (read as: LSAT), but I’m doing my best to be excited about all that will follow for the rest of the year. I’m a peculiar person – half of the time I’m a bit of a grandma who likes to go to sleep early and sleep lots, drink tea under a fuzzy blanket – that sort of thing. The other half of the time, however, I’m curtain climbing and training to be a ninja – I just don’t know an in between.

Annette is seen hanging upside down from a set of aerial silks.

(I spend a lot of time upside down…)

September is a big month, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Between moving in and out of apartments/residences, shopping for textbooks, starting classes and trying to override a very “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle and/or sleep pattern, there’s a LOT going on. You should see my calendar, it’s absolutely BONKERS.

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(Barely) Imparting Senior Student Wisdom

Hello new semester! Don’t you just love the buzz around campus this time of year? You know, its that time in the semester where midterms haven’t taken over life yet, the weather is still amazing and you have a whole new batch of stationary to play with. Okay, that last one only applies to me and a handful of very cool people.

It’s also that time of year where I usually make tons of new goals and try extra hard to get this whole studying thing right.


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It’s “Back-to-School” Season, NOT “Back-to-Stress” Season

A picture of UC in the fall.

Hey everyone – welcome back to school!

Whether this is your first year at university or you are a returning UofT student, this year is bound to bring many wonderful changes. You’ll inevitably learn new information, meet new people, and experience new adventures you haven’t even thought about yet!

Before I continue, allow me to formally introduce myself – I am Slesha, your new Academic Success and Equity blogger. I’m currently in my third year of computer engineering studies. I love photography, naps, and drinking tea. Also puppies … I love puppies! But you know what I really don’t love? Stressing about school.

A zoomed in picture of my syllabus, with all the words blurred except "exam" and "35%" to accurately depict the panic I felt when I saw my syllabus.

Often times, “back to school” feels a lot like “back to stress.” It has been just over a week since classes started, and simply seeing the deadlines and exam dates on the syllabi is enough to set off the panic alarm in my brain – and I’m sure many of you can relate. Every course seems new, difficult, and time-consuming. During times like these, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed or scared.

However, it is crucial to maintain a positive outlook because being optimistic allows you to focus on reaching your goals, rather than fearing your challenges. I know maintaining a positive attitude is easier said than done. The method I use to keep a positive attitude is identifying, understanding, and mitigating the underlying causes for my stress.

When I was a first year student, I entered university already petrified of the workload. I was so scared that I even asked my Frosh Leader what to do if I failed multiple courses. Then, my leader asked me a very important question: Why was I so scared of the workload which I hadn’t yet experienced? Perhaps this fear was instilled in me through the horror stories I had heard from others about university. But that’s the point! Everything I had heard about university up until that point was through someone else’s perspective. It is important to remember that everyone experiences university uniquely due to the variety of programs, courses, extra-curricular activities, learning styles, as well as other personal factors. Once this underlying cause for my stress was identified, it became so much easier to combat my fear of the workload. I could focus on setting my own goals, creating plans to achieve those goals, and working towards creating my own unique experience at the University of Toronto.

For two years, goal-setting, scheduling, and prioritizing tasks have helped me effectively handle the workload (which used to terrify me). Now I am back for my third year and I know the process of setting goals and creating plans to reach those goals will be ongoing. I may slip back into negative thinking processes at times. If you are a returning student like me, it can become very easy to reflect on the bad times of the previous years and falsely predict future failures. In late August of this year, as the school year approached, I fell victim to this train of negative thinking. To combat these fears, I reminded myself that just because previous years had hardships does not mean that success is out of my reach – the previous years had successes too! I reminded myself that the best way to get over my fear of failure is to face my challenges head on. It is still early in the school year so I have plenty of time to reflect on what challenged me in the previous years, how I handled those adversities, and what strategies I will use in the future to achieve my goals. I will be using this reflective goal-setting process to ensure that my third year is more pleasant than my second year – I’ll let you know how that goes!

I will be posting every Thursday so feel free to interact with my posts if you have any questions, insights, or even if you just want to share what you are going through on your academic journey. I wish you all the very best this school year!


  • Slesha Sharma

Coming Home to Caffiends

When I got back on campus at the end of Orientation, the first thing I did was visit Caffiends, Victoria College’s student-run fair-trade café, located on the first floor of Old Vic, the college’s castle-like building. As always, stepping into the cozy room felt like going home in a way that no other place on campus quite managed to rival.

Coffee cup on a table in Caffiends

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In which I find myself a little overwhelmed by extracurriculars

ALT="University College's red couches in the JCR"

Look at how comfy those red couches in the University College Junior Common Room look… Photo courtesy of the University College Literary and Athletic Society

I’ll be honest: initially, my blog post this week was going to be on my favourite places to nap on campus. With the first week done, I’ve already found myself drowsy at 2PM and in need of comfy couches, admirable armchairs, or soft sofas. But while I was sprawling myself out on one of the luxurious red couches in the University College Junior Common Room (preparing myself to write the blogpost), instead of thinking about reaching a level of Zen to start snoozing away, I began thinking of my school-extracurricular balance and how nervous I was about it. I was thinking about the wave of events and commitments and academic craziness smothering me for the school year, and suddenly, I couldn’t fall asleep.

Definitely not nap inducing.

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Why I’m Setting Career Goals This Year

An arrangement of shrubs and flowers partially cover front campus and University College

Front campus, in all its glory

It was my first day of classes at the University of Toronto, and I stepped onto the trampled turf of front campus with a pair of juvenile—and, admittedly, cliché—Converse and a backpack-sized collection of goals for the incoming year. I was brimming with a plethora of productive emotions, such as anxiousness, homesickness, and—probably the most helpful one—fear.

Luckily, I made it out first year alive, and with zero regrets. Zero regrets, that is, except for one.

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Following Through: getting physical towards a healthier year

a photo of a white reusable travel mug against a sunrise backdrop, the sky is blue and orange and the travel mug is somewhat a silhouette, the travel mug has 'Lug a Mug' emblazoned across it with a picture of a green leafUsually, I’m a morning person. Usually, I love waking up to the dawn breaking over the horizon. There’s something invigorating about how the smell of fresh coffee curls around the cool and slightly damp morning air. I can’t help but fall in love with it over and over and over again. BUT there are some mornings when just the thought of leaving the soft warmth of my pillow conjures feelings of fear and dread right in the deepest and darkest crevices of my soft heart and fragile mind. Monday morning was one of them.

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Halfway Through..Now What?

Hello U of T!

I’m Liana and I’m writing for the Community Crew this year as the CTSI (Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation) Blogger. I’m a born and raised Torontonian, a first generation student, and in my third year double majoring in English and Book & Media Studies. You’ll come to learn throughout the year that I really love writing and reading..if that weren’t obvious from my choice of majors.

A photograph of Liana posing in front of a ferris wheel

Me on a trip to Seattle last year!

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The Importance of Taking Notes

a photo of the pillars of convocation hall and the sanford fleming building beside the convocation hall with the road in between and blue skies aboveWaking up to a new school year always gives me butterflies. Butterflies from all of the new prospects that the new school year holds. How many new friends will I make this year? Will I find a good mentor in one of my profs? So many things to look forward to, but equally as many things to be nervous about.

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Finding Balance: New (School) Year Resolutions

A photo a bar with an etching that reads University of Toronto in front of a red brick building and a tree

There’s one more week before the school year begins. Around this time, I often have mixed emotions that range from excitably happy to anxiously stressed. I imagine these feelings probably are common to many students. I like to explain my experience of these pre-school-year jitters as my body anticipating and preparing for the pendulum-like emotional rollercoaster that is the school year.

This year these feelings are coming on a little stronger. I think it’s because I’ve finally reached the end of my degree and so I’m putting more pressure on myself to raise my personal bar a lot further than I’ve already raised it. Most likely, I am psyching myself out. The school year will go by just as others have, and at the end of the year I’ll have a new bag of mixed emotions to deal with, but it’s hard to not focus on the here and now.

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