“Wake me up BEFORE September ends!”

WELCOME BACK, U of T!! It was exactly three years ago that I first began my journey as an undergraduate student at U of T. As a frosh, I remember being absolutely in awe at the size of my BIO150 class, marveling at the monstrosity of Robarts, and drifting in and out of reality as the first month flew by in the blink of an eye. Soon after, I guess I became kind of jaded--the campus somehow shrunk as my familiarity to it grew, the class sizes never actually got smaller so that I began to feel like a nobody, and, contrary to what I had always believed in high school (where most of the boys were either too "immature" or too "dumb"), I did not actually experience the duly anticipated Love-At-First-Sight phenomenon. By the time my first wave of term tests rolled around, I was still having trouble grasping the true importance (and permanence) of one's GPA, my then seriously terrible disposition regarding my study habits and life priorities,  and what it had truly meant to charter one's own path. And although there were "help" offered by the school coming in from all directions, they were less like warm, accepting hugs and more like little bombs going off at my feet, which only served to remind me of how much I did NOT know as a first year, and how much I was potentially missing because of my inability to remain receptive to so much information at once. And so, I was a very stressed individual, and as a result, I bought a lot of stuff (although really, that was the least of my worries). Bottom line of my story is: you do NOT want to end up in the kind of situation that I was in. That's where this blog comes in: we are five student bloggers who have your best interests at heart. Each week, we write posts regarding student life on campus, and synthesize all these amazing pools of resources that the school offers to students and present those to you such that they do end up feeling like warm, accepting hugs! That being said, we value your participation immensely--so leave a comment, join the discussion, and prepare to take charge in the creation of your own experience at U of T. Be Ahead of the Game! In my personal experience, September has always been one of the liveliest and busiest months of the academic year. There's just so much happening, everywhere! It's almost like visiting the Louvre--you'll end up neglecting everything else in life if your only goal were to see everything it has to offer. There's so much to do yet so little time, and that's why you'll need to prioritize. Here, I've listed some of the more important deadlines that you might want to jot down on your calendars--keep in mind that while there are tons of cool events going on everywhere (and this doesn't even include social gatherings and parties), the most important ones have to do with your future academic and career success. You don't want to miss the train! 1. Buy and sell used textbooks now! The largest book exchange site for university undergrads in Toronto is probably TUSBE. There are also tons of book exchange opportunities happening on campus, many of which are hosted by your college. The UofT Bookstore also buys back your books for up to 50% of the new book's price. 2. Need a job? Try Work-Study. The program is available for anyone who is receiving OSAP, and allows you to work on campus on a part-time basis from September to March, making $10.66/hr to a maximum of 12 hours a week. There are tons of Work-Study jobs posted on the Career Centre website (under "Job Search" on the left-hand side panel). All the details can be found here. If you DO NOT qualify for OSAP, you might still be able to get a Work-Study position! Go to Admissions and Awards office (315 Bloor St. West) and ask the person at the reception desk for a Declaration of Eligibility Form, for special application to the program. Positions are advertised until October 30th, although many places on campus have started hiring long ago. If you are handing in the Declaration of Eligibility Form to Admissions and Awards, my suggestion (taken from the Innis College registrar) is to apply for the job and hand in the form at the same time. In other words, don't wait for your eligibility to be granted to start applying for jobs. 3. Graduating this year? Gotta love GSES! (some people pronounce it "Jesus") The Graduating Students Employment Service (GSES) is for any student in any faculty who will be graduating November 2009, or June/November 2010. There are tons of opportunities and support you'll be eligible to receive after you sign up for it on the Career Centre website. Since this service is exclusively targeted towards graduating students, cherish it while it lasts! 4. Career Information Days (CID) and Employer Information Sessions While the CID is the largest annual career fair at UofT (it takes place on September 16, 17, and 22 this year--check Career Centre website for relevant disciplines), Employer Information Sessions are presentations/networking sessions given by representatives from companies that hire students right out of their undergrad. Some examples of companies coming to campus this year: Deloitte and Touche, Bain and Company, Ontario Power Generation, Telus, Microsoft, Direct Energy, Manulife Financial, and tons more. You'll need to sign up for each of these sessions individually on (you guessed it) the Career Centre website. Sign up early, because spots fill up extremely fast. 5. Don't have that much time to cook after all? Get a meal plan. It's still not too late to purchase meal plans. You can get a flex-dollar/declining-balance one, where you add money to your T-card and purchase food at one of the many campus cafeterias tax-free. Alternatively, if you are the type to stick to a daily schedule, you can buy an All-You-Can-Eat one, where you'll have access to the New College buffet-style cafeteria at the swipe of your T-card. a a AND THEN THERE IS...the ultimate EARTHCYCLE!! This event is going to be so huge (and so important) that you'd at least want to drop by and see what the hype is all about. The "biggest and most ambitious Environment Week ever", it runs from September 21-26, and includes 28 events on-campus, from lectures on ground-breaking research on carbon capture and storage, to screening and discussions of climate-change and eco films like The Lorax and BikeChain. Hart House Circle will be bustling with performers, music, and outdoor activities, to celebrate World Car-Free Day (September 22). For more information, check out their WordPress blog! a And that's all for now folks. This post and the process of writing it have both been sufficiently long and I should perhaps save some stamina for the rest of the school year. It's just so nice to be back 'n' blogging again! Give us a shout-out if you are just as excited to be back as we are! --Lucy

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