Finally, it’s back to school! (#firstdayjitters if you are feeling nervous!) My first day is not until Wednesday, but I sincerely feel for all of you Monday’ers. And I offer a nod of recognition to many Engineering students who went back to school yesterday.
Anyway, if you are anything like me, this weekend is probably going to be busy. Last minute preparations loom on the horizon. Coming in at #1 — BOOKS!
I still don’t know what textbooks I need, but that’s normal. Sometimes the required textbooks are listed in the course description, or my instructor may post an announcement on U of T Blackboard, but most often I have to wait until the first day of class to receive my course syllabus.
Then I go to the U of T Bookstore . . .
I love the U of T Bookstore. But, if you’re more the bargain hunter type, the Discount Bookstore on the south side of College St. could be what you’re looking for. Not every textbook is cheaper, but it’s certainly worth the time to browse and possibly save.
There is also the Toronto University Student Book Exchange. I have used Tusbe before to buy and to sell textbooks, and the experience was easy and great. You save money, while directly financing the studies of other (starving) students.
A final money-saving option is to ask around. Find your course’s department and visit the undergraduate lounge (most of them have one). Speak with other students, and ask if anyone has textbooks lying around. Sometimes people just give them away for free!
# 2 — I need to find my classes! Luckily there is an online U of T Campus Map, with a section on building names and codes, as well as helpful pictures. In first year I had a 9:00 am class in AH—can you figure out what building AH is, and where it is on campus?
In addition to knowing the names of buildings, I’ve found it useful to learn the streets of Toronto that make up St. George campus. For academic, extra-curricular, and personal activities, the zone from Bloor St. to College St., between Spadina Ave. and Yonge St. is my home. I’m a neighbourhood kid. I like to know the backstreets and short cuts. I like to know my way around.
After that, I will sit down at my computer and log in to U of T Portal. The online student resource is also called Blackboard, which is what professors will likely call it, but they mean Portal and UTmail. Portal is really useful, awesome, and important! Assignments, study notes, and even tests can be found posted online.
Before classes begin, I like to log in to Portal to check if my professors have made announcements about readings, textbook lists, online syllabi, or just general notes regarding the course. I also check my UTmail for updates from my college and the wider university community. I know I say this a lot, but U of T is an ocean teeming with opportunities, and most of them get caught in our email accounts.
Finally, I will close my computer, put away my maps, close all my textbooks, and relax. I will close my eyes and let my imagination come to life. Next week I return to school. I can’t wait!
‘Til next time, U of T, stay diamond!