Goodbye sweet UpbeaT readers

It’s hard to believe the end is here! I can distinctly remember hanging at camp and applying for this job, preparing a fancy little sample post filled with tricks for how to “bench press” and an application detailing why a PHE kid with a personal training, camping, socializing, soon-to-be-nursing background should be part of lifeatuoft!

Upon reflection (something that nursing has hammered into me this year), I thought it might be neat to see what I’ve gained from this prestigious position and maybe what I’ve left behind? Sticking with my blogging style (which has been likened to Gossip Girl-style?!),  I will include a list and cat memes that I can laugh at a bigillion times. Here we go:

Lesson 1. Drop-in classes are actually a good workout. Alas, as with all things exercise- related, the benefits you gain are directly proportional to the effort you put in. You can dog a Frosh Fit class by just casually cycling through each station, or you can find a partner who will really push you to sweat more and hit exhaustion sooner.  I’ll let you figure out which one reaps results.

Lesson 2. Exercising with others helps with adherence to the game plan. Having a buddy to work-out with or joining a club or team really makes you stick with it. Joining the triathlon club turned out to be my smartest goal yet! Working-out with a group of people has really made me step up my triathlon game, not only to impress my lovely teammates but to prove to myself that I can compete…even if it is against myself because triathlon’s a pretty individualized sport. Nbd!!

Chem cat courtesy of http://chzmemebase.com

Lesson 3. There are some sweet places to get great deals on sport swag in Toronto. SVP Sports on Queen W has unbeatable deals not to mention getting an extra 15% off gear at the Varsity Sport Store when you’re registered for classes at the Athletic Centre.

Lesson 4. The more exercise you do the easier it is to stick with it and even do more. More exercise makes you feel good and exercise more. This trend has enabled me to: move closer to that ever elusive six pack; make friends with athletically-inclined people; decrease my screen time in a screen time-dominated world; increase my academic efficiency to accommodate more exercise time; sleep better; eat more; feel happier; be healthier. Geez, I literally could go on for days. What happens when you Google “benefits of exercise” – it improves your mood, stamina and sex life! I hazard a guess you’d be interested in at least one of my aforementioned bennies!

Seductive Cat image thanks to cheezburger.com

Lesson 5. Writing for Upbeat makes you a creep. I have become an exercise creep. This is similar to your classic Facebook creep, but specializes in creeping on people who are working- out or doing some funky moves. This job has made me ever watchful for my next lifeatuoft topic on how to move around at U of T. Not only am I creeping though, I suppose I’m ‘researching,’ finding  new running routes, different techniques and contagious energy from my compatriots.

Lesson 6. Be grateful for what you’ve got. This year has really driven home how fortunate I am. The contrast of working with sick people and writing about being healthy has provided me with a pretty unique perspective. It has made me super grateful to have the option to exercise. Not only for the extra calorie consumption opportunities has it presented, in the form of chocolate and mini loaves and all things cheese – but in the whole choice of the matter. With a PHE background I know the benefits are enormous when you break a sweat for at least 30min, 3-5x/week, so I feel very fortunate to have that option.

Cute diggy thanks to unboundstate.blogspot.com

If nothing else, I have gained huge health benefits from writing with lifeatuoft – I can’t thank you readers enough for forcing me to try new things, get energetic and share active secrets! Hope you’ve had a blast with us this year, best of luck with exams!!! P.s. if you’re looking for some exam support (or free snacks!) try out the Exam Jam at Sid Smith on the 9th and 10th of April!

That’s all she wrote folks, until we meet again!

XOXO Laura (aka Lime Cat)

Lime cat. The one and only. Great thanks to knowyourmeme.com

These are the things we’ll miss the most after graduation

Yesterday I received an email from the Office of Convocation. It’s almost time. So, with the threat and/or promise of graduation becoming a clearer and more prominent figure on the horizon, I’ve compiled a list of essential U of T experiences to have before graduation*.

* many of which are inspired by a true story ;) … can you guess which ones?

—-

#1: Go to a toga party and wear the same toga to a classics lecture the morning after. Feel appropriately dressed.

#2: Witness the Lady Godiva Memorial “Bnad” invade one of your first year lectures and march through, banging drums and drowning out your professor’s lecture with the same ungodly, hilarious 8 bars of music over and over until they exit through another door.

#3: High five an academic idol. Feel nerdy.

#4: Make pies on Pi Day (March 14th!) and share them with mathies. Feel nerdier.

#5: Order pizza to your second-floor balcony seat during a lecture in Con Hall.

#6: Wander through the halls of the Faculty of Music at night and listen to them practice. Let chills run down your spine for all of the particularly beautiful parts.

#7: Find a physicist and have them show you around all of the contraptions in the basement of McLennan Physical Laboratories.

#8: Find an engineer and have them show you around the roof of McLennan Physical Laboratories.

#9: While you’re at it, spend some time on a roof garden. Maybe even check out the urban agriculture projects.

#10: Take a field course. Preferably one that involves going into the sea in rubber-boot-pants.

#11: Write controversial articles in your college newspaper and/or the Varsity. Just for fun.

#12: Sing in your college/course union’s talent show. Especially if you have no vocal or theatrical talent, because in all honesty, this is probably your last chance.

#13: Dance on the front lawn of University College at night, in the rain. Get muddy shoes. Regret nothing.

#14: Have an “Iron Chef” during a late night at your residence. Make something gross, like chocolate-covered carrots.

#15: Study abroad and go on as many unplanned train rides with new friends as you can possibly fit into a semester or two.

#16: Make something cool. Robots. Solar car. Concrete canoe.

#17: Put your name in the hat for everything, even if you feel underqualified. You’re going to be given a chance far more often than you think you are.

#18: Take a course as far outside of your major as you can possibly get. Push your boundaries and grow into the space you’ve created.

#19: When the upper years in your college try to drag you out of your room in the middle of the night and make you sing outside of other college’s residences during frosh week, let them. Laugh. Sing the loudest.

#20: Start putting your hand up in class when you really want to know something. Stop putting your hand up in class when you really want to show everyone that you know something.

#21: Go on as many organized weekend trips with strangers as possible. Not a skiier? You are, now!

#22: Ask as many professors as you can to tell you the most important thing that they know. Write it down.

#23: Give up on the hope that ROSI will ever let you get through course registration without crashing. Accept fate.

#24: Learn about all of the forms that sex and God and gender can take. Try some on for size.

#25: Go to Trinity College High Table dinners and wear an academic gown and pretend you’re Harry Potter. Act nonchalant. Know that half of the other people in the room are doing the exact same thing.

#26: Learn all of the things you want to carry with you after you graduate: how to give a speech, organize a protest, perform a scientific experiment, write convincingly, talk to strangers, use math and statistics, cook a signature dish, stand up for yourself, interview for a job, start a company, evaluate information, respect people you don’t agree with, publish findings, create meaningful relationships, say “thank you” and have it understood, and decide what you think defines a life well-lived. We’ll never have more time for it than now.

Jennifer

PS: Feel free to share your “essential U of T experiences” in the comments! Let me know what I’ve been missing!

1, 2, 3, 4. My four-person seminar class

My favourite class this semester has been the severely underpopulated one. There are four students and one professor, so it’s actually a five-person class but four sounds so much more impressive like The Beatles, or ABBA, or ABS 496! And to be honest, in most classes, there are only four people in attendance because one person will usually not show up.

The first day of class the professor seemed pleased by the turn out which, at the time, was three students (one joined later and I’m guessing she wasn’t waitlisted on ROSI) and said that the class structure and style would be similar to a post-grad seminar. I’m happy that U of T didn’t cancel the course due to low enrolment because it has been one of the most memorable classes I’ve ever taken.

Since the class is so small, we’re completely mobile and have started a tradition of going outside for class. To actually move from the confines of a windowless prison-style classroom to sit outside in the glorious sun is amazing. Our classroom has been all over campus and sitting outside isn’t distracting but enhances the learning experience. Once we were sitting on benches in the courtyard of Knox College and a woman passing by shouted, “I’ve never seen a group of people work so hard! Right on!” Our class giggled and then predictably, went back to work.

Another aspect I love about being in such a small class is that it’s not intimidating to speak in front of classmates. Like Jennifer, I’m an introvert and speaking up in class for participation marks has never been something I enjoyed. Since we often remove ourselves from a cold classroom setting and drink coffee while we discuss and analyze our readings, everyone feels more at ease. I’ve also made the class laugh. Once for five minutes straight! I won’t reveal the unintentional joke I told but I’ve always felt that after that extremely long laugh at my expense, we’ve all been able to let our guards down and truly open up to one another.

It’s also a highly personal atmosphere. Yes, I realize I’ve only had to memorize the names of three people in my class but in some large classes, I honestly wouldn’t be able to name three students. My classmates and I have all exchanged one another’s phone numbers and will text each other if we’re running late. We even find ourselves texting one another after class about the readings we’ve discussed or something that was said in class that tickled our fancy. Everyone shares notes with one another and even though class is finished, we all wait for the last one (usually me) to pack up and head over to First Nations House together, still talking about what we learned.

Reviewing all of my blog posts this year, I realize how much I reflect on not feeling a sense of community in the classroom. ABS496 was different from the beginning. I know I have an advantage because the class is so ridiculously small, but I want everyone to know that it is possible to create a positive, healthy, respectful and community-based space for yourself in an undergraduate class. Next week is our last seminar, and at the risk of sounding sentimental, I’m really going to miss the coffee, conversation and especially, the friends I’ve made.

Erin

 

Looking back on a great year; for me, at least.

For this week, my final post of the school year, I have decided to reflect upon my short time as a blogger, and some of the posts I have contributed.

First off, I want to express how much of a learning experience this has all been for me; I came from a background with strong writing abilities and was writing for my college newspaper, the Woodsworth Howl, as well as for the Varsity. Learning how to blog taught me a new way to connect with an audience and a new style of writing. For anyone that has followed me since September, I am sure you can see a gradual progression over the weeks in both the topics I covered and the way my posts were written.

Although this school year has seen me resign as news editor with the Howl and refraining from contributing to the Varsity, I have had a very successful writing year with lifeatuoft, something you could say I really enjoyed.

I must admit, some of my blog posts this year have been, well, boring. It takes some work sometimes to gauge what will strike up conversation and interest while challenging students at the same time. This may not be apparent when preparing or writing the post, but it becomes clear when no one comments on my post!

I would say that my most successful post, the one that I feel got the most attention, was my post from October 11 in response to Mental Health Awareness. In it, I posted a one-on-one interview with a friend of mine who had been diagnosed as being bipolar when he was 16. I focussed on ways to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and based on the comments I received, I in some part accomplished this.

My November 29th post, in response to World AIDS Day, saw me focus on myths surrounding HIV/AIDS. This subject is very important to me. As I say in the post, HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease; however there are an absurd proportion of gay men in Toronto that are affected by it. I had hoped to spark conversation and once again reduce the stigma surrounding the issue, and although I thought some of the response was controversial, it engaged a dialogue on the topic.

Speaking of controversy, there are a couple of my posts that were quite, such as my October 18th post, “Coming Out is So 1995”. I basically used my own experience as coming out as a gay man in Toronto, and about how coming out should be a thing of the past. I had to admit that this is not a general experience across the board, and I may have been an exception to the standard. Nonetheless, I got some good feedback and really showed me that people are actually reading my posts!

Finally, my November 22nd post, “Work/Play balance lowest in the country?” sparked some heated debate over why the U of T obtained low marks according to an article in the Globe & Mail. Once again I was reminded that my personal experience may not be the norm, however there were some good points made for both sides of the argument.

Overall, I had a great year working for Upbeat, and I totally recommend others try to take part in it at some point in their university experience. Although the deadline has already passed to apply for the next school year, I encourage you to keep a lookout next March for opportunities to contribute.

Best wishes to all my readers.

-Jon

 

The Anatomy of the Essay Process

An original Leonardo da vinci sketch; an essay is much the same, no? (Courtesy of QOUT blog)

After how many years of being here, if I don’t know at least something about writing an essay, then there must be something wrong. But luckily, I do, so listen up everyone, whether you are a non-humanities student who detests sentences more than a 10 page equation, or an arts student who might not even know how to do MLA formatting, if I impart something to all of you as a graduating student, this might be it.

The seedling yet to be hatched:

Never ever under any circumstance not talk to you professor. Ever, ok? We think we may know what we are doing, but it’s always good to double check with the professor. Think of it like this: you are a manufacturer producing a product for a customer. You go to your customer beforehand to see what they want so you know you’re on the right track to fulfilling their desires. Give your prof what they want, while of course doing what you like, and you’ll be in good stead.

Always, always read secondary literature on your topic, book etc. This allows you to see what’s been said, get inspired, see where there’s room for original thought. This is not plagiarizing because there is not a problem seeing what’s out there. On the other hand, if you copy what Prof so and so said from the University of Pennsylvania, then we got a problem. Essays, for me at least, are about exploring new ideas. Do something original.

The process of maturation:

As you write, always read over your work, again, again and again. You may start your essay off in one direction and suddenly it takes many turns. These turns need to be evaluated, maybe your thesis needs to be changed, or your arguments. Remember that any (good) essay is like an orchestra: all elements must be in unison to get the beauty of the point across.

Polish:

It’s not for your eyes only. Consider taking that essay to a writing centre or showing it to a friend. A good essay should be accessible to those who aren’t fine-tuned in the nitty-gritty complex abstract ideas of literature. The message should be readily accessible. The sophistication of a piece of work is not dependent upon language, but rather the idea.

Well, there you have it. Some rules I have followed for the past few years, and they usually served me well. Surprised I didn’t say “don’t leave an essay to night before?” I’ve known people who can punch an essay out with hours to go and still get a good mark –everybody’s different.

 

Desiree

What I learned about leadership over my lunch with the Dean

On Monday, myself and a dozen or so other graduating students from the Faculty of Arts and Science were invited to have lunch with Dean Meric Gertler at the Faculty Club as part of an award for student leadership on campus. Fancy lunch with the Dean? Definitely not my usual scouring-colloquia-for-leftover-free-pizza kind of day. Thus, it was strange and awesome for me to be a part of this. I’ve never really thought of myself as a “leader” on campus – or at least, not in the traditional sense.

That is to say, when I think of “leaders,” I think of hyperactive, face-painted, I’m-president-of-eight-clubs-and-fundraising-to-build-a-school-in-Africa kind of people from high school. Which is fantastic, but I’m hardly that. I make friends easily, but at my core, I’m an introvert. I’ve never run for student government. I haven’t raised thousands of dollars for charity. I’m just interested in a lot of things. I’m interested in people. So why was I selected for this award?

Leadership isn’t all pom-poms and elected positions. Leadership is having the courage to take academic and personal risks to see what you’re made of. It’s supporting other students for no other reason than that they’re human too and there is no compelling reason not to. It’s being proud of who and what you are, yet keeping a constant, vigilant, open mind to changing your beliefs. It’s being brave, in whatever form that happens to take for you. And believe it or not, the Faculty recognizes this.

The people I met at this lunch were not resume-builders, but community-builders. They were far less interested in handshakes than they were in getting to know what makes each of the rest of us tick. They were people who thought deeply about what it means to be in this place; how to make it human, valuable, challenging, and compassionate. And the Dean wanted nothing more than to listen to what we had to say. He began our conversation with the question, “So tell me… what kinds of things can I do to make this Faculty even better for students?” We spent nearly two hours excitedly telling him. And he replied with equal creativity, passion, and joy.

Students may think that in writing this, I’m coming from a privileged position. And I am, but not in any way different from any other student. I’ve found my voice and sometimes people even want to listen to it. It didn’t happen quickly. It wasn’t my goal. I just kept searching for more and more pieces of myself until everything started to make connections, and everything that I did led me to something newer and better and different. Somewhere between my high school graduation and this moment, everything changed and I became myself. Or, more of myself than I once was. Enough that I’m ready to evolve into the self I could be or want to be.

Quiet voices on campus? Just keep talking. Keep listening. You’ll become louder. More articulate. More free. Eventually there will be a place where the exchange will be as rewarding and eye-opening as you once hoped university would be. And in that place, they’ll even serve chocolate cake. ;)

Jennifer

Over and Out.

I can’t believe we’re here already. The end of the term and my last post as an lifeatuoft blogger. I’ve served my two years, the first as a new blogger and my last as lifeatuoft’s senior blogger. I’m sad. I will really miss talking to all of my fellow students out there in cyberspace.

It’s bittersweet. I’m excited to move forward, but I will miss the weekly rants and reviews. I’ve been blogging for lifeatuoft since I started school here at U of T and it’s become a normal part of my school week. It will be interesting when September rolls around again and I will experience my first day here at the university in which I am not on the lookout for events, meetings, or random entertainments to write about in my weekly post.

If you’ll allow me to be sentimental, lifeatuoft has given me the opportunity and motivation to explore this campus in a way that I probably would not have done if I weren’t a blogger. I have met some really great and funny people along the way. Last year’s bloggers and this years bigger team are all stellar individuals.

As I leave lifeatuoft, my hope is that you and I both keep exploring. There are so many things I would still like to blog about. Just the other day, someone randomly asked me if I knew about the rooftop pool on at Hart House; that would be a great post on campus myths. Today I saw an ad for a Ukrainian Easter Egg painting workshop at the Centre for International Experience; there’s a fun opportunity to write about how I lack any artistic ability.

Here’s the thing. I think I’ll keep doing these things even if I’m not blogging about them. I can’t undo what lifeatuoft has done to me. I am curious now. I can’t help myself. I take photos of funny things on campus, just in case I could use them in a post. I am on the hunt for shows, workshops, protests, and concerts at all times. This is part of what it means to me to be a student here at U of T and I really don’t think it will go away.

I’m attending an authentic reproduction  of a medieval play next week just for fun. I’m going to do  some exam de-stressing  hot yoga the following week and I am most definitely attending a minimum of two end-of-year formals in the upcoming month. All this for no other reason than that I want to.

lifeatuoft has made me curious about our big beautiful campus and I hope it makes you feel the same way too.

I want to thank all of you who have read my posts through all the joy, hilarity, and stress that being a full time student can bring.

Signing off for the final time,

Lori…over and out.

 

So I got a TTC Ticket

Astounded and flustered, emotional and confused, last Friday I was given my first ever ticket, which was from the TTC. I just can’t believe it.  I share this with you so you can avoid the same experience.

Probably the most important is to a) have the TTC Student ID card, which you can get from Sherbourne station and b) carry it with you at all times. If you don’t do both, you can be issued a ticket for $235.00.

If you get stopped, don’t be intimated. I was, well, because I’m really sensitive. Keep your emotions in check, know the colour of your card and only state your truth.

If you get issued a ticket, you can fight it. Instructions will be on the back of the ticket. It’s important to get disclosure: a report of what the TTC officer wrote, so you can challenge the statement if it is untrue. Go to the provincial court, speak with the prosecutor and tell them what happened. They can reduce or eliminate the fee. If you want to challenge the charge, you’ll have to apply for a trial. That’s another can o’ worms.

I’m going to fight the charge, wish me luck!

Desiree

Should I Stay or Should I Go? [Part 2: Staying]

To the delight of my friends here, and detriment, I’m sure, of my family at home, I’ve made the decision to stay in Toronto. To be fair, it had always been in the cards for me to stay here — at least for the immediate future — should the right opportunity present itself. And well, so it has. I have been fortunate to have been offered an internship upon graduation, so, at least for the next few months, I’ll be sticking around good ol’ T-dot. In a way though, the question of whether to stay or not has been answered for me, or perhaps just put in the ‘things for future-Chad to consider’ folder which, to be frank, is bursting at the seams these days.

So what now? Well, one thing’s for sure, there’s no dearth of information for recent international student graduates looking to stay in Canada. And the process is, I’m happy to say, pretty straightforward. As long as you’ve been a full-time student for more than two years, the process is merely a formality to getting your work permit; the one limitation being that you can only work for the length of time that you’ve been in Canada for, and up to a maximum of three years. Here’s the lowdown on the application process, courtesy of the fine folks at the International Student Centre.

What you’ll need:

  • First, you’ll need to be within the ninety days since your notification from the university that you’ve completed your course requirements;
  • You must have a valid study permit at the time of application;
  • And you must provide proof of completion of your program. A letter from your registrar and your official transcript will be enough.

The Process:

You can make your application online or by mail. But first, you’ll have to go to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website and download the following:

  • Guide (IMM 5580)
  • Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay or Remain in Canada (IMM 1249)
  • Document Checklist (IMM 5583)

Then, all you have to do is to pay the processing fee of $150 online or with a fee receipt form (available at CIE) at any bank.

The Future You:

For those of you that are looking to stay in Canada for the long haul, what you’ll want to do is start pursuing is your permanent residency. Coincidentally, there’s an article posted in the Toronto Star just this morning, that outlines how you can go about doing so. But either way, you’ll still need to apply for your work permit like every other international student before you can be eligible.

If you have any more questions, or a personal experience with staying in Toronto after graduation that you’d like to share, leave us a comment below, we love comments! :)

Hasta la próxima semana!

Chad

To Spring and Beyond!

 

With many thanks (and laughs) to http://www.roflcat.com/tonight-we-fly for this image.

Yes tonight…or rather Monday night we flew, straight through into Spring!! We have officially survived another winter, whoop whoop! Okay, so maybe that isn’t so much of a feat… I mean this past winter must have been the measliest one yet! I don’t think ranking high on the measly scale means we should celebrate spring any less though – I mean it’s a whole new season!

Isn’t Canada great?! If anything, having seasons change makes your really appreciate this nation. J’adore the fall fashion and pretty leaf changes, ripe with nostalgia of a fun summer gone by, then winter hits and I often get dragged down into the grey slush of sub-zero temperatures (it sounds abysmal I know) but never fear, SPRING IS HERE! I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed way more people emerging from their houses with less layers and lighter hearts – lighter hearts I know because they smile more!

So how can we best capitalize on the beauty of spring?! Perhaps by embracing the great outdoors! Don’t discount me yet, I do recognize that we live in the nation’s concrete metropolis, especially here on St. George campus. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get our green on! If you’re preparing for another season of teeing-off on the green you might want to consider playing the president on April 2. No, not Obama but close! If you compare it to America and think of U of T as a nation what do you get? Why David Naylor of course!

But maybe the golf course isn’t your idea of an outdoor paradise. Fair enough. Truth be told it isn’t my thing either, which is why I’ve been embracing another kind of green. Perhaps you’ve heard of this simple trick to give your heart rate a rest, decrease stress and regain some feelings of psychological vigor pre-exams? Well if not, I’m talking about a walk in the woods smarty-pants! I recently discovered an incredible trail; it stretches from Sir Winston Churchill Park near Casa Loma, gets interrupted by St. Clair but continues on just past the St. Clair West station. I can honestly say it’s a mini vacation; I was running along it, listening to the birds and almost completely forgot I was in downtown Toronto. It’s that good! Aside from getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city there are a ton of other benefits of getting outside. You can run or walk, but being around trees is really proven to do wonders and with this weather you’re bound to get some vitamin D!

Still lost for ideas? What about the swanky Discovery Walks that the City of Toronto has so kindly designed with cool signage and walking brochures! Or revisit your own favourite trail or ravine to get out and hear the birds chirping. Bring a camera and some friends and get a glam nature photo shoot on. Spring is in the air; why not put it in your step too!?

Love your body, it’s the only one you have!

Laura