The Rocky Horror Picture Show

This Friday I had the privilege of attending the screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema for the second time! I went with a group of other Transylvanian students to the event, as it was jointly sponsored by both the Trinity College Dramatic Society and Rainbow Trinity (whose President, Haley, just happens to be one of my favourite people in the world).

Before we left for the show, we had a splendid garden party inside of a common room to prepare for the event. By prepare, I mean gauging how outrageous everybody’s outfits were, while listening to trashy Fergie jams. All this while circling around a pile of halloween candy in a room full of fishnets. It was like all my dreams were finally coming to fruition. It was euphoric to me that I was going to spend the next three hours with these awesome people.

Me and Haley taking a selfie. I'm wearing a cow hat, and Haley is wearing an outrageously pink feather boa. We both look confused.

Me and Haley were not holding the boxed wine in this picture. We promise that we’re classy individuals.

After we left, and walked for what felt like a century, we finally arrived at our destination! I then forced my friends to take a group picture. And by that, I mean that they were all excited to take a picture, and wouldn’t say no to not taking a picture.

Me posing with my group of friends outside the Bloor Cinema. We're all smiling and making weird faces. I am once again wearing a cow hat, and have a pink boa on me for some reason.

This was not coerced at all!

As we got into our seats (front row of course, we’re V.I.P.), the Shadow Case, who perform their own witty version of the of the film during the screening, made their introductions, and got the crowd to participate in some of their wacky activities. One of their activities involved asking the crowd if there were anyone who had not seen the show before. My friends lied and said I hadn’t, and they brought me up on stage along with a few other people. Then one of the cast members promptly licked our ears, and we were brought back to our seats. “What?” I thought.

I'm standing on stage with a few other people, while cast members sit behind us holding onto our shoulders.

A very weird time in my life.

With that done, the show started. And let me tell you, it was well worth the antici…pation. The Shadow Cast delivered an excellent performance. Even more, everyone in the audience could tell that although they were professional, the cast was legitimately having fun with their performance. To say it was contagious would be an understatement. For almost two hours, I felt like I was in Transsexual Transylvania.

The film version of Rocky Horror Picture is playing on the screen, with Brad and Janet gazing into each others eyes. In front of the screen, the Shadow Cast for Brad and Janet are doing the same.

Dammit, Janet!

I also want to give a special acknowledgement to the actor who played Dr. Frank-N-Furter! He was excellent, and we all screamed embarrassingly loud to prove it. Like, I wish I could show you guys just how intense me and my friend got when “Sweet Transvestite” came on. Okay, maybe not.

The Rocky Horror Picture film is playing in the background. The "Sweet Transvestite" scene. The Shadow Cast is in front of the screen. Dr. Frank-N-Furter is sassily sitting on a lounge chair while his minions surround him.

YAS!

Just like Baby and Patrick Swayze, I had the time of my life. Thank you to the TCDS and Rainbow Trin! This was rad!

UofTwhat shows have you been to? Were they also rad?

Take Note!: Exploring The Volunteer Note Taker Program at U of T

Imagine you’re in class. You can’t look at the board or PowerPoint screen, but you’re one of the few there who can’t. Then, while leading the lecture, your instructor says the following:

“If this is less than this, you get that.”

confused cartoon person with question marks above head

What I look like in this situation….

A very cute sleeping/tired cat.

My brain after this happens for the fifth time…

Most instructors are much more verbal than that, but if not, I am fortunate enough to have a volunteer note taker on hand to fill in the gaps. (This gracious peer will upload their notes to a secure server that only I, and others in the class receiving notes, can access).

Because of my registration with Accessibility Services (AS) and discussions with my AS Advisor, who can confirm I need this accommodation, my instructors are notified that a student in their class requires a note taker, and asked to announce it to the class.

Neither the instructor nor the class are to know who the recipient of the notes will be. In some schools, this is not the case: students who take notes for others are to report if the recipient of notes is missing from class and they could lose their ability to receive notes if they miss more than three lectures. However at U of T, students who receive notes from a volunteer are expected to be in class and take notes to the best of their ability, but this is operated on the honour system. After all, there may be several students in a class receiving notes.

“But, there are no blind people in my class,” you may say. “Who needs notes then?” Well, there are many groups of students with disabilities that aren’t obvious. Consider students with chronic pain, those with difficulty hearing the instructor, or those with learning disabilities who learn best outside the lecture hall. They all can benefit from a volunteer’s notes.

Line drawing of a class of people.

Many can use a note taker…

“But why should I?” you might also ask, “I mean, it’s nice to do for someone, but U of T’s competitive, and I don’t want someone else to have all the information I do without doing the work for it.” I’d thank you for your honesty, but then suggest that U of T needn’t be so cut-throat. In fact, I haven’t really seen this behaviour myself: anyone I’ve approached for help or to form a study group seemed willing to work together. We are all better when we work together rather than undercutting each other.

My preaching over, I’d also suggest that students receiving notes are doing their best, and sometimes circumstances beyond their control make their best insufficient in a lecture setting. This doesn’t make them less intelligent or capable to handle a university workload; they just have to go about it differently.

So the next time your instructor asks for volunteers, give it a shot. Many students find the quality of their notes improves. (Wouldn’t you take better notes if you knew someone else might read them?) If your instructor doesn’t make this request (some forget), consider signing up directly with Accessibility Services. Your peers will thank you, and the letter of appreciation at the end of the term for your efforts won’t hurt in a job interview setting either.

On behalf of all those benefitting from this program, thank you in advance.

Getting ready to study? There’s a map for that!

What is your earliest memory of UofT?

In my last year of highschool, a family friend drove me to Toronto to show me around campus. When we arrived, he yanked my campus map from my hands: “Don’t worry. I’ll point out the buildings as we drive past”, he said, as he slowly pushed the gas pedal to the floor.

Picture this: A little old man speeding around Queen’s Park in a car as old as he is, his bespeckled head barely peeking over the steering wheel, his hands throwing gestures at buildings in every direction (often multiple directions at once), and his lips spitting out UofT factoids faster than most auctioneers can rap. Sounds dangerous, right? Meanwhile, in the passenger seat, a young teenager struggles to get a glimpse of the campus, without falling out of the careening vehicle. If this happened in the 1920s, it might look something like this:

His driving was as undirected as it was reckless: we drove from Hart House to New College, to Robarts, to Vic, to Trin, and around, and around, and around again. The tour gave me no sense of the layout of the campus, and I felt nothing but lost and confused.

Now don’t run off to patent a new theme park ride based on my harrowing adventures just yet; there’s a moral to this story. (But, we’ll get to that in a bit.)

Two weeks into first year, I was feeling lost again. Already, the first midterms were looming, and I was… well… freaking out. The professors had led me into new territories, pointing out so many new things to learn and to memorize. They ran through numbers and thinkers and concepts and equations without pause. Just like in the car, I couldn’t make sense of anything; it all flew by me before I could see how it fit together. I was dizzy and I was lost. Sound familiar?

Vintage photograph of a camouflage class in New York. Image depicts a group of people adding final details to a map. Image without historical context implies they are making the map themselves.

Then it sounds like you need to make a map! [source]

What I needed then, just like I needed it in the car, was a map. Many of my classes were oversaturated with information: it seemed impossible (and useless) to commit everything to memory. I was “dumping” information out of my head as soon as a test was over, and forgetting whole courses as soon as they were done. Why? Because there was no apparent meaning to any course content: the facts lingered, disconnected, with no obvious purpose or application to the real world.

Professors have a lot of information to teach, and sometimes it’s up to us to make sense of it all: to map out how concepts and ideas and people relate to each other, and the connections between them. Pieces of information alone can begin to shape a narrative, but it’s in connecting and relating those bits that we begin to see the plot. Not only can this help us to memorize and to understand content, but I find it also makes things more interesting to learn.

So, what comes out of all of this? Well, if you’re feeling lost, try creating your own maps, literally! Free software helps you make mindmaps, and see how ideas can connect. But you can also make connections without maps: just grab some friends and brainstorm ways in which the different pieces of information can relate to one-another. However you do it, try to find meaning in the information you’re given. Trust me, it’s worth it.

And always wear your seat belt.

Gardens for Your Mind

Did you have a big backyard where you grew up? Or any backyard? A front yard? A nearby park? A garden? A house plant? Maybe you lived away from the cities where lands are still open and wild. Even if you grew up in a concrete jungle, I’m sure you enjoy some green space every now and then. University students can benefit from some time in a garden (though it’s hard to find the time or the gardens). Believe it or not, gardens are very important to me.

This fact may seem strange as my mind is often filled with thoughts of hot-rods and electric guitars. But it’s true. Maintaining a garden, (the envy of the neighbours, I might add) has been tremendously fun for my family. My role in the garden is voluntary. I’ll correct myself; I was voluntold.  However, I now know there is a lot to learn about any place by the plants growing there and vice versa.

The green grass, bright flowers, and sharply defined flowerbeds of my backyard garden

Envy of the neighbourhood (Photo by Zachary Biech)

My backyard garden with a view out across a river valley, with a blanket of snow, and all lit in a pink glow of a winter sunrise

Wintertime in my snow-covered backyard garden in the morning light (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Picture taken from a dock, looking out over a lake amidst the forested mountains of Alberta's Rockies

Getting closer to nature, at Peppers Lake in Alberta (Photo by Zachary Biech)

In first year, I had a plant in my residence room. The atmosphere definitely needed some shrubbery. For this role, I chose a tiny cactus. I named it ‘Jose’. He was a good shrubbery, hardly even had to water him. When Jose fell off his table, he was tough enough to shake it off and get right back to cactusing. I scored some UC sunglasses during orientation week and gave them to Jose. What a champ.

A small cactus plant in a pot on a windowsill in my residence room, with a pair of ridiculous sunglasses

My old buddy Jose, wearing his trademark sunglasses indoors like the champ he is (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Alas, Jose and I parted ways after first year. I searched high and low during my second year for another shrubbery but campus green space is hard to find. During the winter months, there’s just no way. The grey concrete and clouds were a downer. You may have felt the same way while downtown. The lack of grass, hills and landscape even effects how we walk. My feet get sore all the time here.

Looking down the winding path through the trees of Philosopher's Walk

A rare zone of solitude: Philosopher’s Walk (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Not to worry though, I have good news. Through First Nations House, I was connected to the Native Student’s Association and the Kahontake Kitigan medicine garden. The garden was named by Anishnaabe Elder Lillian McGregor and Oneida Elder Grafton Anton, and combines the Oneida and Anishnaabemowin words for garden. I even had the honour of helping maintain this garden for part of the summer. The garden is sacred land and a safe place for growing medicines, holding ceremonies and for any healing you may need. It’s on the east side of Hart House along Queen’s Park Crescent West and you can check it out if you’re ever passing by (be sure to respect it well). This garden is a place of peace and joy, especially during busy or stressful times.

A bed of sage plants in fronts, and a bed of tobacco plants with flowers in the back at  Kahontake Kitigan

Sage in the front and Tobacco in the back, from harvest day at Kahontake Kitigan (Photo courtesy of U of T Native Students’ Association)

A round flowerbed with a large green patch of broad-leaf sweetgrass

Sweetgrass growing strong on harvest day at Kahontake Kitigan (Photo courtesy of U of T Native Students’ Association)

A bed of soil with three tiny cedar trees and a large cedar bush, with larger fauna in the background

Very young cedar trees, on harvest day at Kahontake Kitigan (Photo courtesy of U of T Native Students’ Association)

NSA Marten Clan Leader Paige standing amongst sage and tobacco leaves hanging to dry in the NSA office

NSA Marten Clan Leader Paige feeling triumphant after a successful harvest at Kahontake Kitigan (Photo courtesy of U of T Native Students’ Association)

Finding nature on campus can be hard but worth the effort. Even if you just have a cactus who wears sunglasses indoors all the time. Look around, and I’m sure you’ll find lots of good gardens and green space for your mind.

Now for your homework:

1: Do you have a favourite secret green space on campus? Near your home?

2: To replace Jose, you must bring me…another shrubbery! (Or at least recommend your favourite houseplant)

Also, check out these links:

http://www.fnh.utoronto.ca/Current-Students/Student-Groups/Native-Student-Association.htm

http://campusagriculture.ca/

http://thevarsity.ca/2014/03/17/exploring-the-ecology-of-u-of-ts-three-campuses/

http://thevarsity.ca/2012/09/02/u-of-ts-secret-spots/

 

Let’s get downward, dog: Enlightenment at Hart House Yoga

*Credits to that one random poster at UTSC for the title. I wish I were that creative with my puns.

If the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, this week I had my first yoga class at Hart House and it was AMAZING! I’ve done yoga for a few years now, but it’s usually in beginner classes, and not regularly. I knew I wanted to try to be more physically active this year, but I needed something more than just running on the treadmill.

How did I end up with yoga?

Let me just start with one simple aspect of my personality: I like to take on a lot. It sounds like the cliché answer you might give when you get asked, “what’s your biggest weakness,” at a job interview, but for me, it’s the truth. I like to keep busy, because otherwise I just kind of …don’t do anything.

Api with concerned look on her face.

Not impressed brain. Not impressed.

It’s system that works pretty well for me, with time management and all that jazz. “But Api, I don’t see the problem,” you might ask.

Well my friends, after a very packed first month back, I realize that yes, I am able to handle a lot but that doesn’t eliminate the stress that comes along with it.

Since I seem to work best when I’m busy, I knew the solution to being stressed out wasn’t cutting things out, it was adding something I liked doing. So, I decided to replace one of my weekly workout hours (which I, coincidentally, haven’t actually started yet) with an hour of yoga at Hart House!

Photo of banner saying "Hart House Fitness Centre" with and arrow pointing down the hall.

I was really intimidated when I first stepped into the class, because I had only done introductory yoga and I was pretty out of practice. I wasn’t even sure if I could still touch my toes.

 

Mirror reflection pIcture of Api sitting down and reaching for toes with toes just out of reach.

I could. (Just barely though).

But our first class consisted of covering some of the basic moves and learning how to do them properly, so that we don’t strain ourselves and we got the most benefit from them.

The class went pretty well, and I’m glad I have something separate from school, extracurricular activities and work, that I can use as Api time!

There are lots of yoga options on campus, if you can’t commit to a weekly class, Hart House and the Athletic Centre has drop-in classes. The Multi-Faith Centre also has options for meditation and yoga!  So you have plenty of options to get your tree pose on!

Picture of api doing tree pose with one leg bent and resting against her shin.

#YogaSelfie trending in Toronto ~~

Hopefully by the end of the semester, I’ll be able to do that pose without losing my balance and falling over. Baby steps.

My Double Major in Math and English

In my last blog post, I briefly mentioned my double major in Math and English. I want to take some time and wax (hopefully) insightfully on a combination as rare and jarring as a blobfish.

My books this year include Dante’s unreadibly terse Inferno and Spivak’s sublimely poetic Calculus on Manifolds: A Modern Approach to Classical Theorems of Advanced Calculus. The material that my courses this year cover have inspired this:

Bartolomeo Di Fruosino's painting of Inferno, from the Divine Comedy by Dante

and this:

A representation of ordinals in a spiral shape.

I am not sure which came from greater madness.

I’m often told that my majors are different. Sadly, this is a requirement for my degree in the same way that my 20 credits are not all towards the same subject. Otherwise, I would have finished by now.

Usually, when I explain that such a statement is vacuously true I get an exasperated face-palm and then one less person can bear to talk with me. So, I’ve come to believe that, when people tell me my majors are different, they mean that they are sufficiently different to be noteworthy. I believe this is known as “small talk.”

So, in the interest of those who might want to major in the most amusingly abstract of activities, I thought I might lay down some similarities and differences like the boring catalog of oddities that I am.

The secret to success is logical argument. Logic is at the core of all human activities, except the plots of Hollywood movies. It should come as no surprise that the ability to argue logically is essentially the skill behind so much of university. An essay is a logical argument. Proof aids the development of a logical argument. The main thing is:

The mode of expression is different. As much as I would like to throw down some upside-down As and Es on an English essay and call it a day, I would probably not get much more than an upside-down 0. Likewise, a 2000-word proof for x + y = y + x would not go over well. Because I have to know my audience, I am like a comedian, albeit the world’s saddest comedian. This is my greatest struggle: switching between pretending I know how to do math to pretending I know how to write in the English language.

But I do not despair, at least not until the morning of an exam. Although the end product of my homework ends up wildly different, I start out in the same way. I begin with definitions. If I wanted to know how Spenserian allegory worked (and at some point apparently I did), I might look here. If I wanted to prove the transitivity of the number 3, I would have to remember that, in one of my courses (and this is no joke), 3 is defined as

3 = {{},{{}},{{},{{}}},{{},{{}},{{},{{}}}}}

I really hope I got that right.

Ultimately, the differences are more apparent. It’s quite possible to get a 100% in any Math course (it has been done) because you are simply expected to find the objective answer. I don’t think any perfect marks have been handed out in an English course because there are subjective aspects to grading. To a lot of people, sadly, the final number is the only meaningful aspect to a course. But, deep down, there is enough in common between an English and a Math major to justify this blog post. Trust me.

The Annual Back to School BBQ

“There’s more to life than free food,” said no one.

“What is there to look forward in life other than free food?” I ask.

A close-up of a grill with burgers being cooked on it.

Objectively, the correct answer is “nothing.”

Last Wednesday, I attended the annual Back to School BBQ for the second year in a row, and it was amazing (synonym: scrumptious). A joint event hosted by the UTSU, BSA, NSBE, ASA, and MSA outside the UTSU building — the annual free BBQ is an excellent way of bringing together communities that are generally dispersed within the U of T campus. Whether we related on the basis of shared human experiences (or based on the fact that we chose ‘U of T squirrel’ as the animal that best captures our spirit), for those 2 hours, we were all back to school, holding our burgers, hot dogs, and smiles.

Students happily waiting in line for free hamburgers and hot dogs.

Students in their natural habitat.

The BBQ went seamlessly, and I could only wonder if Claire Huxtable planned it. (Just to be clear, that was a joke. The dedicated members of the groups listed above were solely responsible for the BBQ, not a fictional character. Just to be clear.)

I had the chance to catch up with a lot of my friends. A lot of different friends, from different social groups — whether they were my friends from Trinity, or my friends from the BSA. They all came out for this one event. It was amazing to see, especially on one of the last sunny days that we may be having for a while!

iffany and M'Kaylah, the respective Vice-President and President of the BSA. They're posing for a picture together.

Tiffany and M’kaylah, the respective Vice-President and President of the BSA.

The Back to School BBQ is an event that fulfills every facet of being an excellent student event. It a) brings people together, b) invokes intellectual discussion, and c) free food. I thank the groups that dedicated their time to set up this event in the name of building a better student community for U of T.

A picture of me in the sun posing with M'kaylah. Except M'kaylah was edited out of the photo with screenshots of the "404 error page" placed on top of her.

M’kaylah didn’t like this picture of her, but I liked how I looked in it. We compromised!

Make sure to check out their upcoming events throughout the school year! Especially the BSA — they’re having a 90′s & 00′s throwback party on Thursday!

For the Love of Books: Used Booksales on Campus

I’m a huge bibliophile so when Victoria College’s annual booksale rolled around there was no way that I could resist it. Vic’s booksale lasted from September 18-22 and took place in Old Vic, where it’s Alumni Hall, second floor, and Chapel were absolutely packed with books.

I started my search on the second floor where I spent about 45 minutes looking through general fiction and about 10 minutes debating if I really needed 8 books (the answer was yes I did). I also checked out the Chapel which held, among other things, some really nice art books that I had a hard time resisting. Inside Alumni Hall on the main floor were History, Classics, Philosophy, Biography, and Literature books (and more) where I scooped up an additional 4 books – including a volume of (some of) the works of my main man Victor Hugo. The booksale is a really great place because most of the books are under $6.00 which means you can just buy more than you would at a regular bookshop. I definitely left the booksale happy with my purchases (and very grateful for my friend’s help in carrying them all home -bring a friend, you might need their muscles).

If you missed the Victoria College booksale don’t worry! University College, Trinity College, and St. Michael’s College will all be having booksales between now and November 1st (which I probably won’t be able to resist either – oh well, who needs floor space?).

Check out some pics from the booksale below!close up of books in the travel section

13 copies of "the help" by katherine stockett

anyone need a copy of The Help?

close up of books to show availible titles

picture of mystery books authors l-p resisting the urge to buy them all


 

photo of art and dance books propped against the wall under stained glass

person holding up a book "constantinople: city on the golden horn"

the light in the Vic Chapel was so pretty due to those amazing stained glass windows

3 books are propped up on the chair rail on the wall

photo of a person holding an aged book from 1836

the rare books room had some pretty cool finds! this book is from 1836.

close up of literature: authors c-d      sunlight on books stacked in a pew in the chapel

Did you check out the Vic booksale? What books did you add to your collection? Share them in the comments below, on Instagram with #LifeatUofT, or tweet me @Amie_UofT

 

Where Can I Meet Queer Chicks? A Guide to Making Your FB Relationship Status, “Happy and Healthy”

So, let’s be real for a second: half of the appeal of Queer Orientation is to find other queer folks. Not just because they make fantastic friends, but they also can make fantastic partners (and no, this is not my OkCupid summary). As everyone may know, straight or queer, finding a partner can be difficult. So when opportunity strikes, it is only natural to go for it. Unless, of course, you are like me and totally psych yourself out about even the prospects of meeting that special someone (OK fine, this is my OkCupid summary. Lame, I know, but you have to be yourself on these things!).

10639717_661295297299689_4201023271771746073_n

However, from my experience, I want to say this now: just because there are less queer people does not mean that you have to settle for someone less. In the past (and present), I would often say that, “well yes she does voluntourism, but maybe that was just in high school?” or “yeah she is a little insensitive when I say I have to do school, but who isn’t?,” or “She doesn’t watch ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians,’ but that is okay, right?” But at the end of the day, if your interests don’t mesh, they don’t mesh (jokes about that last one- it was really the ‘Rachel Maddow Show’). Frankly, it is better for everyone to say no to that second date than to have a prolonged break-up six months later.

So go to Queer Orientation. I know it can be nerve-wracking but if you want to go, go!

Don’t psych yourself out, because I did when I was in first-year (and second-year), and now I completely regret not going to more events.  More to the point, if you find someone that is great, and if you don’t that is fine too (join me and all the other singles ready to mingle). Honestly, queer orientation is just the beginning, and there are many other ways to meet new people across campus throughout the year. Plus, the queer friends you will meet will likely be there long after that first break-up.

 

Me and my friend at Queer Women on Campus!

Me and my friend at Queer Women on Campus!

Now, if you do see someone that seems awesome and cool and smart and funny and wears a button-up like no one else, here is a little tip from a fellow young yet older person: start it out right by communicating effectively.

“Right, thanks Haley, I have already heard that before.”

I know, I know, so instead of me saying it, there is this really great blog called “Love like This”  that gets down to this exact point of “asking out.” Now obviously this can be quite daunting, so remain “hopeful and respectful.” For me, I get a little aggressive when I am nervous, and I have found that it can come off as disrespectful if not completely arrogant. To be open and vulnerable allows for an honest response, and not a response that comes out of intimidation (bad way to start a relationship, am I right?).

Don't Put on a Show

Don’t put on a show…

Or be full of woe...

Or be full of woe…

Just give it a go!

Just give it a go!

So starting out open and honest can be a stepping-stone to a happy and healthy relationship status. If you don’t believe me, look at this interactive documentary and see for yourself. Yes, I cried with Cat and Keith.

Peace and love,

Haley

Hi, My Name’s Sarah

the word hello and a smiley-facein a computer fontHi U of T! For my first post as the Arts & Science blogger, I wanted to introduce myself to my fellow students. But then it occurs to me how downright uncomfortable introductions to my own peers can be — especially online, which by nature, is a rather detached way to communicate.

It’s not ALL personal introductions I have difficulty with. I can go to a networking event in a room full of professionals (and strangers) and generally hold my own. I participate in class if I have something I think is worth saying. By nature of my disability, introducing myself to instructors and teaching assistants is a must — it’s my own peer group I have trouble with.

Here’s the thing: I don’t consider blindness a hindrance on a day-to-day basis: it can be an inconvenience at times, but it’s only one part of who I am. In the case of introducing myself to peers however, I feel it definitely holds me back.

How will I know, for instance, if the person I want to speak with (say, beside me in class, or in my residence common room) isn’t otherwise occupied? Perhaps they’re reading and haven’t turned a page yet, thereby giving an audible clue? Perhaps they’re on their phone or have earbuds in? Perhaps they’re looking the other way, or have smiled or given some other visual acknowledgement of my presence and further attempts to engage in conversation might be considered pushy or “trying too hard”?

Perhaps I have met them several times before but haven’t memorized their voice yet, so reintroducing myself would be incredibly awkward for all involved? (In a perfect world I’d ask them to identify themselves from the moment they said hi, but I still don’t know how to do that without feeling embarrassed). What if someone else joins us: how can they be brought into the conversation and introduced to everyone present without being weird? Worst of all, perhaps someone in a group’s gotten up and moved away, leaving me to talk to thin air? I have a bit of vision, but not enough to always know whether the dark blob that was a human near me a second ago is still there.

Of course, all of these concerns could happen with instructors, teaching assistants, or members of a professional networking event, too. But there’s something about these groups that makes me feel less judged than by students, a perception I can’t quite explain.

Perhaps it’s the notion that those “adults” – who may indeed not be much different in age than myself – will be less intimidated by a blind person and therefore more willing to talk to me. My lack of vision limits conversation topics, but in more professional situations this isn’t usually a problem. With students, however, since I can’t talk to someone about a picture on our phones, any clothing or accessory they have, or anything at all on Snapchat or Instagram, I feel awkward and behind the times. My conversation topics can be a bit more personal – a person’s program of study, the courses they’re taking and what they think of them, their commute, their interests, even their future aspirations. I understand this can be off-putting to some, and I fear I sound like some weird hybrid of a person’s mom, grandmother and social worker.

It is therefore with a great deal of hesitation that I seek out peers to meet. I’m not unfriendly – on the contrary I think I’m quite the opposite – but I usually let people come to me. Sure, I’ll say hi to classmates and neighbours, but I’ll hesitate to really get to know them. I let my fear they’ll think I’m “too much” rule my desire to make new friends and have company.

So, dearest U of T students and friends, I say hello to you now in writing, and will work harder to do it more in person. Maybe we’ll be friends, or study buddies, or maybe just see each other in class and leave it at that. Just do me one favour, okay? Identify yourself when you see me: “Hi Sarah, it’s Fred” gets you instant blind street cred; “Hi Sarah” alone (unless I really know you) doesn’t do much for me.

What do you think? Do you hesitate to meet new people? Or are you one of those master communicators who can talk to anyone? Let me know in the comments.