It was a warm early September day when I arrived to move in to Whitney Hall residence at the University of Toronto. I rolled up in a stylish ride (a minivan) with a slick posse to accompany me (my parents). I was brimming with emotions, on the cusp of a new life, having only ever glimpsed Toronto for the occasional family gathering.
I was going to take on the big city in stride, study international relations, go to law school, study abroad, and beyond that, who knows? Possibility was everywhere I looked— until, suddenly, my view was obstructed by a loud slam as a bandana-wearing, face-painted frosh leader launched against the sliding doors of the van shouting an ear-splitting cheer.
Five years later, that moment seems emblematic of my experience at U of T. There were a lot of “slams” along the way – a lot of big changes, that is. As it turned out, I did not have my academic career precisely mapped out the day I arrived at this institution. The record scratches on the soundtrack to my fantasy undergraduate experience continued as I found that frosh week was not my thing; attended my first lectures and realized that maybe the material wasn’t for me; and, shortly thereafter, dropped economics, a prerequisite for the program I meant to go into.
At the time, admittedly, I was a wreck. But I’ve now arrived at the end of this story, and I can say with certainty that it all worked out! I switched to a double major in English and Jewish studies with a minor in History— a program which I was passionate about and which provided me with opportunities to conduct research, study abroad, and try out service learning. I was also involved with the English Students’ Union and the Jewish Studies Students’ Union, and got a work-study position at the Centre for Jewish Studies.
Despite not being one for cheers and matching t-shirts, I made lots of friends at my college through residence and involvement in student governance. I got involved with several other campus groups, most notably The Varsity, U of T’s tri-campus newspaper, where I recently finished up my term as Editor-in-Chief.
Along the way, I trekked all over the city to see music and art and explore different neighbourhoods, I met diverse, passionate people from across the university, and I learned a lot about myself. Possibility is still everywhere I look, and I’ve figured out that the challenges that sometimes get in the way of it only help you grow stronger and refine (or, in many cases, redefine!) your goals.
In the fall, I’m sticking around here at U of T for graduate studies at the iSchool in Culture and Technology (and yes, you may note, this has little to do with my undergraduate academic program — in keeping with the theme of many changes!).
So, U of T, that’s a bit about me! My name is Danielle and I’m very much looking forward to blogging for you this summer. I will be posting here about all things U of T. My goal for the summer is to get active! Gone are my days of sitting for hours on end in lectures (until September, anyway!), so I’m going to walk every inch of campus, see corners I’ve missed in the grind of the school year, and hit up Hart House gym on the daily.
I’d love to learn a bit about you too! What are your goals for the summer? You can reach me in the comments below or on twitter at @lifeatuoft. Be in touch!