My Visit to the Sexual Education Centre

Happy February!

In my last post, I wrote about all the super resources we have on campus that can help you lead a healthy student life. This week, I decided to investigate another great resource on campus – the Sexual Education Centre (SEC)!  The SEC is located at the Sussex Clubhouse and if you didn’t already know, is famous for its nearly infinite supply of free condoms.

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The door to the SEC office is open to all students on campus, undergrad and graduate!

This was essentially the sole fact I knew about SEC before I visited. What I found was that while the office did indeed boast of an incredible quantity and variety of condoms (see the “menu”), it also contained a wide array of resources and supports for all things related to sex, sexuality, and relationships.

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I quote directly one of the centre’s volunteers: “For 50cents of your annual student fees you can get an infinite amount of condoms.”

My welcome to the centre was quite positive. I was greeted by a number of smiling faces when I walked in, supplied with a wealth of information during my visit, and seen off with a “grab bag” filled with safer-sex products. The centre is open Monday – Friday, 10 am – 7pm, during the Fall/Winter semesters, and everyone is welcome.

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Winter Blues

This is the time of year when I start to feel a little bit blue. In Toronto, I think it’s because this is the time when winter seems like it will never end, like I’ll be cold forever and the days will never get any longer. I know everyone hates winter, but I really hate it. So I thought living in Scotland this year would be a nice break from the winter blues.

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Braving Times Square: The Introvert Gets Involved

A whorl of chaotic colours, blacks and indigos, fluorescent yellows and oranges, pulsating at the edges of your eyes. A cacophony of shouts and honks drowning out the sound of your own breathing. The smell of greasy hotdogs, sunscreen, and cologne suffocating you. Arms and elbows and hands tangled with others as people nudge past you to get to one of the many fast food restaurants, shops, or stores stretching along either side.

Times Square, a force with which to be reckoned in all its sights, scents, sounds, and touch. While some people can handle the hustle and bustle of this chaotic mass, others are overwhelmed by the amount of people, scents, and sounds crushing them and have to leave the vicinity from time to time to catch their breath.

Similarly, after socializing with other people for a period of time, introverts need some “alone time” to recharge because they get drained from the activity. Some get drained after a couple of hours, others after several hours.

But, what is an introvert?

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Spotlight on Social Work!

Have you ever thought about a career in social work? Well, you’re in luck! As my next “Faculty Spotlight”, I have the pleasure to present the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work! Our insider information comes from Jamie, a second year student in the Masters of Social Work program. She previously completed her undergrad at Western University and graduated in 2010 with a Honours Specialization in Psychology with a focus in Clinical and Social Psychology.

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Five reasons to explore mentorship this week

It’s Mentorship Week at U of T! From today through to Thursday, there are events happening around campus to explore mentorship opportunities – whether you’re looking to become a mentor, find a mentor, or thank a mentor who’s supported you.

Need more convincing to come out? Here’s five reasons to take part!

1. Make friends through mentorship communities.

Mentorship programs at U of T also provide you with opportunities to meet other pairs of mentors and mentees at networking events, socials, and more. Beyond the lasting bond you’ll make with your mentor or mentee, these communities provide an added bonus to mentorship – making new friends on campus.

Mentors Daniel and Brianna sitting outside of Sid Smith.

“We’re part of the iConnect mentorship program. It’s a really loving, supportive, and welcoming community.” – Daniel, second year, Cinema Studies & Computer Science and Brianna Chan, fourth year, Life Science.

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Discover #JoyAtUofT in the Little Things

“It’s such a cold, cold world (hello cold world)
And it’s got me down, but I’ll get right back up, as long as its spins around
Hello cold world” – ‘Hello Cold World’, by Paramore

The winter blahs are still in full swing, and we don’t even have snow this year to brighten things up. On top of that, midterms are here to keep us preoccupied. Thankfully, February also happens to be #JoyAtUofT month, to help us get some inspiration from each other as we attempt to stay positive in a time of year when it’s all too easy to be down.

On one hand, El Niño took care of the heaps of snow I was warned about. On the other, the lack of snow is kinda depressing, too...

On one hand, El Niño took care of the heaps of snow I was warned about. On the other, the lack of snow is kinda depressing, too…

I can definitely relate. Granted, I don’t have any full-year courses this year, so I didn’t have any assignments/essays due at the start of the semester. Midterms have come along equally brutally, though. I know I complained about them last time around, but the added blasé of the season seems to amplify their effect on my mood. Grey skies, wet concrete, and barely a hint of snow on the ground have characterized many of the days I’ve had to make the walk from Chestnut to campus.

It’s times like this that finding some joy in life can really make or break my productivity levels. I’m way more likely to get things done when I don’t feel like Eeyore all the time. Amidst all the chaos, squeezing in time to do the little things that put a smile on my face is definitely worthwhile. Frantic as I should be studying, spending time relaxing in the common room among friends can lighten the load on my shoulders, even if it’s just for that brief period of the day. It could even be as simple as making a food run to Med Sci with the gang. Getting out and pursuing hobbies such as photography have a similar effect, letting my heartbeat and stress levels fall to healthy rates.

Getting out with my camera is a great stress-reliever, and definitely brings me some happiness during this seasonal lull.

Getting out with my camera is a great stress-reliever, and definitely brings me some happiness during this seasonal lull.

Joy for me also comes from extracurriculars. Being a member of this awesome Student Life Community Crew has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for any other; I get to see some of the most creative people I know, every week. From hearing their ideas in the meetings, to reading the final product each day, it’s easy to see why Student Life chose them to represent the student body in this way, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. The Blue Sky Solar team that I signed up for just a couple of weeks ago, has already proven to be a source of escapism from the world of academia, if only for a little bit at a time. Researching alternative designs for software, with the promise of soon getting the chance to actually write the code to match, has been a great ride so far.

The weather might be uninspiring, but there’s still plenty of things that manage to lighten up the atmosphere. Be sure to share what brings you #JoyAtUofT on Twitter and Instagram – I’ll be keeping an eye on the hashtag to get some ideas!

UofT Snapshots: Fourth Year and the Future

I am in my final year of undergrad and scheduled to graduate this June (by some terrible twist of fate, I graduate on the date of my birthday thereby having to spend my 22nd year of life in CON HALL). These past four years have been spent strolling around King’s College Circle, cramming at Robarts during unspeakable hours, and attending every puppy therapy event U of T has to offer. The fact that I may not be coming back next year has only recently hit me. As much as I tried to prepare for (see also: dread) the future, it actually did not occur to me that I’d soon be done my Bachelor’s. It’s a bittersweet feeling.

I embarked on a HONY-esque quest across campus to hunt down fellow fourth-years and ask them about their plans. Are you graduating? Taking a fifth year? Taking some time off? What have you learned here? What’s been a memorable U of T experience? Please share intimate details of your life with this random, unnaturally peppy stranger!

From my mini adventure I have concluded that 1) Apparently no upper years go to school because it proved quite difficult trying to find fourth years on campus and 2) Apparently all upper years are in the same boat of worry, anticipation, and excitement for their futures. So fear not, fourth year friends! Here are just some of the lovely students that attend our school, starting with the loveliest of all (me):

Nancy, Neuroscience:

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I’m graduating this year! I want to do an MSc in neuroscience research. I’m also looking into professional programs in public policy and global health. The biggest takeaways from my time here is to go after what you want, enjoy yourself, and that the best person to compete with is yourself. I’m super grateful for all the people I’ve met and friends I’ve made!

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My Joy at UofT: Theatre

I recently finished my very last stage production at UofT. It was a play called “Rope,” which is about two university students who kill one of their friends for “philosophical reasons” and put his body in a chest. They host a dinner party, using the chest as the table. It’s a play by Patrick Hamilton, but most people are more familiar with the Hitchcock film that was based on the play. It was definitely an interesting play to work on! I have always had a passion for theatre, but I don’t study it at UofT. I always knew that I’d probably get involved with theatre when I got to university in an extra-curricular capacity. It’s no surprise, then, that “Rope” was my fifth on-campus production.

It’s safe to say that I have spent a lot of my undergraduate time rehearsing. I mean, A LOT! Rehearsing quickly becomes like a part-time job, especially in the lead-up to Show Week when there’s Stumble-Through, Tech, Dress, and sometimes even a Sitzprobe, which is when the singers and the band play together for the first time. For me, campus theatre has been well worth all the hassle it so often entails. It was worth all the times I had to stay up late finishing assignments because rehearsal ran late, it was worth all the missed social gatherings, it was worth all the sore throats and worrying and aching muscles. I have definitely put blood, sweat, and tears into every role—word to the wise: beaded dresses and stage falls do not mix! Despite all that, being involved with campus theatre has been one of my greatest joys at UofT.

The first time I got involved with campus theatre was with “The Mousetrap” in my first year. I got a callback, but I didn’t get a part. Nevertheless, I caught the bug. I liked how welcoming and energetic everyone was at the callback; I didn’t feel nervous at all and I actually had a lot of fun. I auditioned for the TCDS’s musical that year, “The Frogs,” and I spent the next few months of my life frog jumping like an absolute maniac. In second year, I got to play Einstein’s girlfriend in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” The great Steve Martin, who is the playwright and someone you may know from SNL, tweeted us to wish us well with the show! It wasn’t until “Into the Woods” that I really felt at home in the UofT theatre community. By that time, I had made so many friends through theatre and I was well and truly used to the way things worked. I loved that show so much; some of my best friends from undergrad are people I met in that cast. Next, I did my first Shakespeare in third year: a very unconventional staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that took over all of Trin Proper for a few nights. Finally, “Rope.”

There are a lot of things that I have always loved about theatre. I have always loved developing my artistic skills. I have been performing in front of any audience that would have me since I was extremely young. I have loved the costumes, the lights, and the atmosphere ever since my Dad first took me to see a show.

There is one thing, in particular, that I love about theatre that has proven to be especially true in the context of university: it provides a built-in sense of belonging. I came to university not knowing anyone, as many people do. When you think about it, that’s a pretty crazy and daring thing to do! As I have mentioned previously, I’m a pretty shy person. I don’t like to be anywhere unless I have a concrete reason to be there; I need a specific role to fulfill. What could be better for me, then, than to be assigned a specific role in a play? It’s exactly what I needed to feel at ease. I found my place of belonging on the stage at UofT, and that belonging has brought me so much joy!

Where do you find your #joyatUofT?

Pictured: Me playing Cinderella in Into the Woods

Gosh, I am going to miss it!

Well, That Was a Lot Harder Than it Looked: Circus Silks @ U of T

I walked into my first circus silks class at the Athletic Centre last Friday pretty confident (largely due to the fact that I found my way from the AC change rooms to the Lower Gym in the Benson building on the first try).

Essentially the layout of the Athletic Centre and, of course, University College. Good luck. Background Source: watchervault.com

Essentially the layout of the Athletic Centre and, of course, University College. Good luck.
Background Source: watchervault.com

I wasn’t arrogant — I know I know nothing about aerial silks, but the instructor asked if I had done anything similar or notable and I mentioned that I’ve been coaching gymnastics for over five and a half years and used to do aerial yoga.

This is aerial yoga. 10/10 would recommend. Even if just for the awesome Instagram photos you’ll get out of it. Source: yearningforyoga.wordpress.com

This is aerial yoga. 10/10 would recommend. Even if just for the awesome Instagram photos you’ll get out of it.
Source: yearningforyoga.wordpress.com

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A Touch of Summer in the Middle of Winter

large round leaves against a glass ceiling

I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately. Between the perpetual grey weather and the sudden onslaught of midterms, I’ve been finding it difficult to feel inspired. Thankfully, this changed when I attended VicXposure’s Allan Gardens Photowalk this weekend. The bright greenery and the group of happy photographers were more than enough to shake me of the January gloom and doom I was feeling. 

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