Walk it out!

Round round get around

I get around yeah

Ah yes, the Beach Boys with their 1964 words about transportation. For many reasons I really enjoy this song. Perhaps it’s the childlike dance it inspires in me with its catchy beat or maybe it’s the lyrical talent. Later on in the song I find I lose grip with their meaning and here’s where “the Boys” and I disagree:

We always take my car cause it’s never been beat.

Always take the car? Seriously? I hope that’s because public transit in Hawthorne, California was sub-par in the early-mid 60s. Also, like cigarettes in that era, cars were probably seen as having “nothing wrong with them.”

Now, I’m giving myself a big pat on the back for leaving my car parked since Sunday (5 days!) and walking or TTCing my way around.

I should mention that I haven’t travelled north of St. Clair, east of Yonge, south of Queen or west of Ossington, but that still leaves a fair chunk of terrain to be ambled! Just the other day I was hangin’ with a friend down on Queen W. We were taking a study break when I got a text from another friend, who I was supposed to be meeting in 15 minutes, at Dupont! (This other friend had changed our meeting time, normally I’m quite punctual.)

Anyways, I thought about my possible routes and decided TTC was my best bet. I got on the sub, headed north until Queen’s Park, where the train broke down. Yep, three minutes before I was supposed to be at Dupont station. What did I do?! Went directly to jail, did not pass go and did not collect $200?! No. I ran! It took me less than 10 minutes too. Pretty proud of myself, must be all the extra walking that’s improved my cardio!

So in case you’re on the fence, to walk more or not, I’ve got some pro’s and con’s to try to sway you:

Up side of walking (or biking or running or anything physically active that gets you somewhere):

  • Exercising and getting somewhere you need to be at the same time is efficient!
  • You are helping the environment by burning calories not fossil fuels
  • Use it or lose it…your fitness that is!
  • In the lovely weather, we’ve had lately, you can soak up free Vitamin D and other health benefits.
  • You get to be outside!!! Yay!!! Not in a classroom!!! Yay!!! (This may become a con in the winter – unless you have Sorels and real warm gear!)
  • You can use the time to chat with friends, be social or find some solo sanity (to decompress from the weight of school and first assignments starting)

Down side:

  • It may take a longer time to get to some places (but if it’s nice out, who cares?!)
  • Walking isn’t always intense enough exercise for the fitter people among us – meaning you may still have to take time to work out later (another study break!).
  • If you wear the wrong shoes because you choose fashion over foot sensation you pay for it – in blisters!

It’s your call whether you walk, ride, stand or drive. And I tip my to  the commuters out there; that can’t be easy! But in these last beautiful days of sunshine and warmth, I’ll be leaving my keys at home (just the car ones hopefully), pullin’ on a summer dress and soaking up the Vitamin D for as long as it lasts!

TTFN

p.s. if the Beach Boy’s weren’t inspiring for you, this Walk it Out video may do the trick!

How I got a semester’s worth of credits and didn’t set foot on campus for eight months

I need to let you all in on a little secret.

I’m a travelaholic. At any given moment, my desk has more guidebooks than textbooks. I dream in maps and mountains and UNESCO world heritage sites. Dropping Introduction to Archaeology because it overlapped with a required course for my program was my current saddest moment of fourth year. That isn’t the secret though. The secret is this: one of the greatest moments of the last two years was when I left U of T.

NO WAIT. CALM DOWN.

It’s because I got the opportunity to be an exchange student!

(One of the perks of living abroad is that you get to say things like, "Hey, tomorrow do you want to go on a boat ride... to Russia!?!")

- – - – -

I never really considered myself the “exchange student” type. Like most people at U of T, I take academics pretty seriously. I have goals! Dreams! Ambitions! Why then did I choose to leave my entire life, friends, culture, school and family behind for almost an entire year? Why should you?

For me, it was something I stumbled into. My parents took me on my first “real” adventure – 7 countries, 15 days, zero language skills – when I was 17 and from that moment on, natural curiousity became my most defining feature. In second year, I went to Stockholm on my own for reading week, and upon my return, the first email in my inbox was a call for applications to a study abroad program. In Sweden! I thought it was a sign. I applied to it, not really thinking it would actually materialize, or that I was actually signing up for the semester of a lifetime. At the time it was just another email sent into the ether.

That is, until I was accepted, packed my bags, and realized I now had to learn to speak Swedish. From the moment I arrived and spent my first night staying up through the midnight sun, I knew something amazing was happening. That crazy, beautiful line across the maps of my childhood – the arctic circle – all of a sudden wasn’t a barrier to me. Nothing was.

Now I know that going overseas gives you a chance to completely let go of everything that’s trying to become a part of you that just isn’t supposed to be a part of you. It lets you shed layers of social pressure, academic anxiety, and existential uncertainty. It lets you keep the parts of you that you want to keep, and allows the rest to fall away.

Stripped of your culture, familiar friends, and the safety net of routine, you’re forced to encounter yourself. Struggling to speak a language that you do not yet understand not only makes you fully consider the content and impact of your words, but also gives you appreciation for your own thoughts. Living abroad opens the doors to your heart, and even after you return, you tend to want to keep them open. You realize that most of the time, it’s okay to talk to strangers, that the next train from the station is probably going somewhere interesting, and that everyone you meet can teach you something.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a “re-entry” conference for returning exchange students from U of T, York, and Ryerson. Discussing our experiences, we unanimously concluded that we’re more open to learning, people, places, and experiences than we ever were before. The hard part was realizing that “home” can be many places simultaneously; once you’ve realized this, you’re forced to carry a sense of both global connectedness and longing, for the rest of your life.

Whatever your goals may be – whether you’ve decided to be a doctor, teacher, activist, artist, or something else entirely – getting outside of yourself will bring you far closer to who you really want to be. You’ll come back more confident, imaginative, social, and alive. You will finally know what your hometown means to you, and what Canadian culture actually is. Suddenly, your goals won’t seem as abstract, and you’ll begin to find intense joy in the little pieces of everyday life. So go – get out there – and come back transformed.

- Jennifer

A Nuit Blanche Walk at U of T

Aaniin (hello) everyone,

As an Aboriginal Studies major, I’ve been lucky enough to study under some amazing teachers and Professor Jill Carter has been one in particular that was always able to capture my attention and imagination. As the first Aboriginal woman (Anishnabe) at U of T to obtain her PhD in drama, Professor Carter’s ABS402H1 “Traditional Indigenous Ecological Knowledge” class was a fine balance of being both enlightening and entertaining (as a trained actress, her voice projection and presence is far better suited for Shakespearean theatre, not an acoustically-challenged classroom in the bowels of University College). I remember the first day of class and how Professor Carter managed to look into the eyes of every student and told us, “You are all artistic.” Some students shifted uncomfortably in their seats while others nervously giggled. I can understand their reaction. As an Arts and Science student, I’ve never heard a professor remind us that we are all creative, original and artistic beings. Typically, the first day of class is an opportunity for professors to make us feel incredibly unoriginal when they lecture us about the crime and punishment of plagiarism.

It’s not surprising when I learned that Professor Carter would be participating in this year’s Nuit Blanche with a collaborative installation and performance piece, “Medicine Walk“. If you aren’t familiar with Nuit Blanche, it’s a free all-night contemporary art festival happening on October 1 where artists transform Toronto into a city that never sleeps (6:59 pm until sunrise). With the support of the Aboriginal Studies Program at the University of Toronto, Professor Carter and her team of current and former Aboriginal (and Aboriginal Studies) students and volunteers are decolonizing the landscape of U of T through an interactive piece that encourages the audience to participate in singing, physical expression and language reclamation. The performances will begin at the Kahontake Kitikan Garden (located outside of Hart House), that is a ceremonial and culturally significant space blooming with native flora and centred around the medicine teachings of the Four Directions.

“This project is driven by students, alumni, allies and staff of the  Aboriginal Studies Program,” says Professor Carter, “It comes straight from them. What they  have brought to the table is the manifestation of embodied connection  with what has been pushed to the margins, buried underground, silenced  or forgotten. And what they have created is a catalyst for the reemergence of these things.”

I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Professor Carter tirelessly work with students on Wednesday night at First Nations House as they rehearsed their individual work that will be performed during the Medicine Walk. It was exhilarating to watch Professor Carter direct my classmate, Erik Wexler, and friend and former classmate, Christine McFarlane, as they rehearsed their spoken word pieces for the Medicine Walk.

“Imagine every pore is filling up with everything!” Professor Carter advised them about their performances, swooping up from her director’s chair (a black leather sofa). “I’m referencing Stephen King.” She laughed at herself. All of the students listened carefully to her advice, that will make their performances more powerful come Saturday night.

“It’s a moment when you are connecting with the universe and people and life around you,” she told Erik, “Drink it, and taste it.

I hope everyone will get a chance to connect to Professor Carter’s Medicine Walk (yes, I really just encouraged you to spend a Saturday night on campus) and weave themselves into a new and old world vision of U of T that honours, transforms and reclaims the Aboriginal land, peoples and teachings that our school is built upon.

Also, if you have any tips on how you plan to stay awake until sunrise, let me know!

Erin

Professor Jill Carter directing students for Nuit Blanche.

ABS student Erik Wexler listens to Professor Carter's performance advice.

 

Recent ABS graduate Christine McFarlane practicing her poetry reading.

The student goes cheep-cheep, saves a buck…

I’ve found that finding free and cheap stuff on campus can be a bit of a chore, so for the last week, I’ve been rummaging through U of T’s student societies, colleges and local hubs scouring for everything free and cheap.

The result? A list to rule all lists! You can thank me later.

Every Monday

If you’re anything like me, your week starts off at a snail’s pace. Apparently, everyone else on campus is on the same page and for all my scavenging, I couldn’t find a single event or deal hosted on Mondays. Maybe it’s better that way.

Every Tuesday

Every Wednesday

  • Wednesday seems to be the perfect storm of free and cheap food and events. I really wish these could be spread out over the week, but am I really complaining about the cacophony of options for my Wednesday brunch, lunch, after class drinks and miserly merriment?!
  • FREE Pancake Brunch at Victoria College, Burwash Hall (11am – 1pm)
  • FREE Br(L)unch at Woodsworth College, Kruger Hall (12pm – 2pm)
    Most of the time it’s pancakes, but around the end of the semester, you might be treated to a surprise grilled cheese or poutine.
  • $5 Lunch at Hart House Great Hall (11:45am – 2pm)
  • $4 Vegan Lunch at the Hot Yam, 33 St. George Street (12pm – 2pm)
    Don’t let the vegan part fool you, this is one of the best meals you will have all week!
  • FREE admission to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Dundas and Beverly (6:00pm-8:30pm)
  • $4 Martinis at Hey Lucy. Yes, every bar has drink specials, but how often as a student do you get to feel this fancy for this cheap? There are over 20 different martinis for only three bucks a pop!
  • $10 student tickets at Hart House Theatre. On stage now is The Great American Trailer Park Musical, described by the New York Post as “South Park meets Desperate Housewives!” How can you pass that up?

Every Thursday

  • $1 Pizza at University College, Junior Common Room (12pm – until they run out)
    Bonus! It’s not the student-staple Pizza Pizza, it’s Cora’s!

Every Friday

  • $3 Beers at SUDS. Sanford Fleming Atrium (3pm – 8pm)
  • FREE movie screenings at Innis College, Innis Town Hall (7pm-10pm)
  • FREE BBQ on UTSU Front Lawn, (This Friday, 2pm – 6pm)

Every Day

  • $1 coffee at Diabolos, Junior Common Room, University College
  • $1 bake sale treats in Sidney Smith Hall Atrium
    Not a sure thing, but most days there’s at least one club raising money by selling tasty homemade treats. Just yesterday, I picked up two peanut butter cookies and a handful of macaroons for 50 cents each!
  • FREE drop in classes at Hart House and the Athletic Centre (times vary)
    Zumba, GrooveNation and Bootcamp. Suffice it to say, this ain’t your everyday fitness class!
  • FREE Movie Rentals from Robarts Library
  • FREE Admission to Varsity Blues home games

Hopefully you’ll now be able to enjoy discovering campus while satisfying the penny-pincher in all of us; and of course, if you know about more great free and cheap stuff on or around campus, feel free to share with us in the comment section!

See you guys next week,

Chad

P.S. My first video is on the cutting table, being readied for next week, I hope you’re as excited as I am!

Looking for Allies In all the Right Places

Hello to all the lifeatuoft readers.  I’m Desiree, and I will be blogging about a wide variety of student experiences on campus.  As I walked to class the other day, passing by the faces of you, my fellow students, I wondered how I would write a blog that could identify with all of you. I realized that there is a common
thread that exists in all of us, the desire to see yourself in others, and I hope this is what I will accomplish in my posts. My aim is that through my writing and whimsy I can make you laugh, smile and perhaps
even discover things about yourself you didn’t already know.  Just maybe, you will see me as an ally and be inspired to seek others during your time at U of T.

We often see school as the unconquerable, the great and powerful Oz who can decide our fate, whilst we eagerly tap our ruby red slippers (or Uggs) to solve our academic problems, from a lack of time management skills to exam anxiety. But, lest we forget the tin  man, scarecrow and lion, who exist among us, masked, as the supporters we need to succeed?

Allies exist among us, truly.  But, unlike Dorothy, we need to track them ourselves, because they aren’t going to pop up when we need them most.  Students, myself included, experience a range of academic issues.  I not too keenly recall a time in my undergraduate degree when I needed allies in the form of academic supporters to help me overcome my writing problems as an English student.

Being shy was certainly a hindrance to me in asking for help.  Many students face this, or might think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but it is important to understand, as I did, that the academic supporters aren’t here to judge you, but to help you with learning and in geting the grades you want.  For example, one big issue I faced in studying English was how to communicate my ideas clearly.  While this may seem like a simple task, it was quite difficult for me to get my point across in my papers.  Thus, I began my journey on the yellow brick road to A’s at the Academic Success Centre.

The ASC, just like the lion of Oz, was intimidating at first, but turned out to be a welcoming environment.  It was here that I discovered that my writing issues were ones that a lot of students experience, and that it could be solved with practice. The learning skills counsellors taught me how to identify blunders in my writing, and how to overcome them. For example, reading sentences aloud to listen for grammatical or syntax errors.  Although it sounds simple, it truly helps!

But, the ASC is not the only hidden academic ally on campus.  Unbeknownst to me up until a few years ago were the Writing Centres that each of our colleges have, like the tin man buried in the forest, invisible to the naked eye.  The writing staff are all experienced and know what your professors want, which is very reassuring because half the time I don’t even know what they want. (Sigh)

So, next time you’re walking around campus feeling that there’s no place like home, remember, you have allies.  One way of finding allies, or even garnering the confidence to do so, is by first researching what help is out there, like through your college website, or even by asking other students.  So many people I’ve spoken with didn’t know either of the ASC or the college writing centres, and after I told them they immediately sought them out.  So, go ahead, find the allies that you need to succeed.  You might just be surprised at the outcome.

Desiree

Our Own Theatre on Campus

Hey everyone! This is my second blog posting, and I thought I would share with you a treasure I have found on campus; Hart House Theatre.

This past Friday, I attended the opening night of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, which is the second time I have been to this theatre, and also sparked my interest in sharing this with you all. It was a part of the Mature Students’ Weekend, to which myself and my MatSA team had the pleasure of hosting for the fourth year in a row.

The outside of Hart House Theatre

The outside of Hart House Theatre

Last year I went with a group to see Equus, which rose to fame because of the London production which had Daniel Radcliffe (from Harry Potter movies) as its lead.

In my two trips to Hart House Theatre, I have been thoroughly impressed. I thought it was run by students, but I quickly learned that the actors are professionally trained and hired by the theatre for their productions. It is a small, intimate setting that can house maybe about 200 patrons, and no matter where you sit you get the full theatre experience.

The theatre hosts several different productions throughout the year, with an average run of about two to three weeks each. Shakespeare plays tend to be most popular; however the theatre occasionally gets celebrity producers to come in, such as this past spring, when Woody Harrelson brought his production of Bullet for Adolf.

Hart House Theatre also does summer productions on the Philosopher’s Walk stage, where attendees are encouraged to bring their own blanket and snacks for this outdoors delight.

Be forewarned, however, that they tend to produce plays that have nudity, for which you can only admire the actors for their bravery. I know that for myself, standing nude in front of 200 people is not exactly on my bucket list, so you really have to give these people props for what they do.

Tickets tend to range from about $15 for students and $20 general admission, but you can get yourself a serious discount if you can get a group together.

It might also be handy to know that most theatre-goers stop in to Sammy’s Student Exchange, which is right next door to the theatre entrance, prior to the start of the play to imbibe on a pint or a glass of wine.

I highly recommend going to at least one production at Hart House Theatre this year, if not more. I also suggest joining their mailing list to keep up to date on new plays that are coming soon.

If you have a theatre experience you want to share, do so in my comments!

-Jon

 

Hi, my name is Lori and I’m a glossophobic

 

glossophobia: an abnormal fear of speaking in public or of trying to speak.

When I was eight years old, I had to write my very first speech. I wrote it about my dog “Buttons”, a lovable mutt who thought he was a cat. To my dismay, a few days after I handed in my speech, I was asked to compete in the school’s public speaking competition. On the fated day of the competition, when the adjudicator called out my name, I rose from my seat, mounted the stage, and then proceeded to stare at my feet for three minutes. I don’t think I have to tell you all that I didn’t win the competition.

When I speak in front of more than twenty to thirty people a few unwanted biological processes tend to occur. Firstly, my voice cracks. It cracks like a thirteen year old boy’s voice cracks. Secondly, my cheeks turn to a crimson shade akin to a late summer’s sunset. Thirdly, my lexicon of words longer than five letters is suddenly deleted from my memory banks. I think I am mildly glossophobic.

My glossophobia is usually something I tend not to think about. It isn’t often that I am asked to speak in front of large audiences, but I was recently asked to give a fifteen minute speech in front of more than thirty people. I’m a little nervous.

I need help.

In search of advice and tips for public speaking, I inadvertently stumbled across the Toastmasters International website. I thought that there must be a branch on campus. Here’s what I found. There are two active branches and one inactive branch of Toastmasters at U of T. The two active branches are operated by the Engineering Department and by Rotman Commerce. This past Thursday, I had luck in locating and attending a U of T Engineer’s Toastmasters meeting on campus, and let me just ask this one question: Are all Engineering Students this nice?

I had the pleasure of speaking with some of the U of T Engineering Toastmasters Club and they gave me some great advice. I was really hoping that they could provide me with a crash course in public speaking, but unfortunately like everything else in life, learning how to be an effective public speaker takes time and practice.

When you sign up for the club, you are given a manual/workbook which contains practice speeches and analysis tools.  Each week the group covers a section from the manual and members volunteer to give speeches. Siang, president of the club, described the environment as a “mutually positive environment, to practice public speaking”.

Although you can’t become a good public speaker in one night, club members Matt and Gene gave me some great tips that they have found useful:

1. Try to ensure you’re comfortable with the content of the speech.

2.  Use body language to engage your audience, but don’t go overboard i.e. Flailing helicopter arms are not recommended. (Thanks for the demonstration guys!)

3. Record yourself giving your speech and then try to work on the areas you think need help.

4. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT imagine the audience naked or attempt to stare at a wall or one single person. I am told this only makes the speaker feel awkward and it doesn’t improve the quality of a speech. Instead, try to make eye contact with various people in your audience.

5. The most important tip from the Toastmasters is to be brave.  In other words, Own it!

So, hopefully everyone out there finds these hints helpful. I will be employing these techniques on Saturday and I hope they can elevate my sub-par public speaking abilities!

If you’re interested in joining the U of T Engineering Toastmasters club you can find more information here. Wish me luck and I’ll let you all know next week whether or not my speech was a success or if I ended up staring at my feet for fifteen minutes!

-Lori

ps…Below you’ll find photos from the “On Tap” water event that I wrote about last week. Thanks to the Sustainability Office for providing these great photos!

 

Members of the Sustainability Office, who organized the event

Participant in the Long Pour Challenge

Long Pour in action!

To play or not to play? (Seriously though…who doesn’t like playing!?)

Oh hello there. Laura here! I’m super pumped to be part of the lifeatuoft team this year! Like our other bloggers, I’m eager to provide you with some quirky insight into my adventures as a student. More specifically, my adventures in seeking out a fun, active and healthy university experience. Hopefully you can find something here that resonates with you, or at the very least, have some good laughs at my expense!

At first my search for fun, active things to do on campus wasn’t going very well. I’ll chalk that up to not looking very hard. But then I walked into my student lounge and found the sign-up table for my faculty’s intramural teams. I deliberated over which sports sounded fun and which ones intimidated me. Soccer, for example, made me hesitant. My apprehension came from the memory of playing casual soccer with a friend at last Friday’s “She’s Got Game” event (more on this later). I discovered that my leading pass wasn’t just “leading” but actually unattainable and my friend didn’t want to play with me anymore! Ah well.

Back to me at the intramural sign-up table. I’m checking out my schedule to see which days would work for me, when the girl next to me says, “oh you look pretty athletic.” Now sometimes for the ladies -but less so for the gents- being described as “athletic” isn’t the compliment it might seem to be. But in this case, the timing was right on – what a great thing to hear when you’re not sure about signing up for a sports team!

So I picked volleyball. I hesitated to sign up mostly because I don’t have those precious years of high-school volleyball experience. My most extensive volleyball training happened in grade six when I was still half a foot taller than most of the boys. This obviously made me a force to be reckoned with (think Owen Wilson in Meet the Parents)! Anyways this little boost of confidence went straight to my head. I hope my teammates can endure my playing; I’ll be sure to let you guys know how it goes!

Another activity I’m keen to do more of? Zumba! I was introduced to this Latin dance fitness class  at that “She’s Got Game” event I mentioned. It turns out U of T offers drop-in Zumba classes at the Athletic Centre! It’s something totally new to me, although I think I could become addicted… check this vid out and then tell me you couldn’t have fun grooving like these guys!!! I will admit when I “Zumba’d” it didn’t look half as coordinated or cool and we didn’t have a water fight, but it was ridiculously fun. Hopefully that’s what counts!

Looking forward to hearing what you’ve got to say, I’d love suggestions, recommendations or just to find out how you guys are getting active on campus!

TTFN (ta ta for now!)

The best-spent year that I could ever imagine

Writing my first-ever blog post for lifeatuoft has been difficult. Really difficult. As a fourth-year, everything seems like my last – my last frosh week, my last chance to take those courses that caught my eye in first year, and – much to the concern of my friends and family – my last chance to “add a third major…. it will be so awesome and I can finish it this year, I promise!

In the wake of all of these endings, there seems to be a chain of beginnings: my first “real” job search, my first taste of the ‘freedom’ of ‘adult’ life, and my first chance to really carve out my place in this world. Before I approach any of these things, however, I feel like it is important to consider what I truly crave from my final year at U of T.

In the past three years, I’ve left my small hometown, learned ballet, debated at Yale, lived on the other side of the world, created meaningful scientific research, and learned to speak an obscure foreign language. I need look no further than my Facebook news feed to be amazed, on a daily basis, by the things my friends from school are up to. Studying political theory in France? Working for an NGO in Africa? Learning Indonesian… in Indonesia? Computationally modelling the cellular interactions of our very own bodies? Just another day at U of T! ;)

This school gives us the intellectual space to give and take and create and dream and debate and (admittedly) sometimes struggle, fail, or change our plans. So how do we know when we’re finished – how do we know when we’ve absorbed every possible benefit from our student experience in such a way that after graduation we continue to live the kinds of lives we’ve created here?

The truth is, I don’t know. Since I will be finished my degree requirements in May, I am supposed to walk across the stage in Convocation Hall and right out the door into the great big world outside. Realistically, I’m probably ready. The world is intensely exciting – perhaps now more than ever. There’s a part of me, though, that knows I never did research for CitizenLab, or danced as it rained in King’s College Circle, or marched with the Lady Godiva Memorial “Bnad”, or did anthropological fieldwork, or joined the Underwater Club. There are still experiences I want to have and friends I want to make before I leave.

I hope that my readers and fellow bloggers are a part of this. I hope that we can accept that we are not our majors, that doing something because it will “look good on a resume” completely dodges the point in doing anything at all, and that there is a direct correlation between how afraid you are of trying something and how much you’ll grow if you go for it. I guess it starts, for me and everyone else, by committing to be braver and more interesting than who we ever thought we could be.

So, what’s your U of T “bucket list”?
I’m still writing – and rewriting – mine.

- Jennifer

Knock, knock

 

Friends, students, countrymen and women,

My name is Erin and I hope over the course of this school year, I can be a source of knowledge, entertainment, and perhaps escape as you procrastinate over a final paper.

Making a good first impression, or any impression at all, on your professor can be tricky. Especially when you are in a class with 399 other students. I generally think that students believe class participation is the only way we can interact and make an impression on our professors. After participating in class, we think the next best option is making a beeline to the professor after class to speak to him or her. When I see students do this (once I saw a dozen disgruntled students form a solid circle around a professor after he had given their papers back because they were unsatisfied with their marks and sought an explanation), I just shake my head. It was 9 p.m. and he had just finished splattering his brains out in a three-hour evening class about Shakespeare’s Rome. I imagine most of us, including the professor, just want to escape the classroom at that time of night.

Fellow students, these are both standard and highly normative ways to interact with your professors. However, I propose you think outside of the box and step into the spotlight by visiting your professor during office hours. Every professor advertises them on their syllabus, check it out.

You’d be surprised to learn that professors are more than happy to see their students during the designated office hours outlined on the course syllabus. I mean, it’s part of their job. You’d be even more surprised to discover that approaching a professor privately isn’t as intimidating and socially awkward as you may expect.

In my first year, I remember being confused about what a professor expected on an assignment and visiting her office. Her door was shut so I gently rapped on the frosted glass, as though I was about to awaken a monster from its slumber. I was wrong of course. She was not sleeping. And she was also not a monster.

In fact, she welcomed me into her office, explained exactly what she wanted and gave me three books to read during the summer. I spent about thirty minutes with her and our conversation not only focused on the assignment and course expectations but novels she wished we had the time to study, independent bookstores and how television networks aimed at women are programmed to be insulting (does anyone in their right mind really want to subject themselves to Maid in Manhattan on a Friday night?). That visit not only made the ambiguous assignment more clear but reminded me that my professor was human and actually had a wicked sense of humour.

Another experience I had was trying to find a professor’s office located in the “Angel’s Roost” at Trinity College. Being a Trin student, I assumed I knew the college well enough. However, I managed to climb too many stairs, bypass a security system and found myself wandering around a random student dormitory. Eventually, I found the remote office, located in a nook and cranny on a top floor across from Trinity College Chapel (hence the name, Angel’s Roost). That was a time when the journey turned out to be just as interesting as the destination because I discovered an area of my college that I didn’t know existed.

So now that I’ve told you the best-kept secret (visit your professor during office hours!), I encourage you to try it yourself and spread the word. And please, leave a comment, I’d love to hear your first impressions of my post!

Erin

A mysterious staircase leading up to the Angel’s Roost (and a few professors’ offices).

An Angel’s Roost with a view.