When I first attended the University of Toronto back in 2017, my days consisted only of going to class, coming home and then reviewing the material I’d learned in class or getting a head start on assignments.
This year, however, things are different. I’m making an active effort to get more involved with the activities, clubs and organizations offered by the University of Toronto. U of T offers dozens of workshops, clubs and groups and I believe that these activities are absolute lifelines for preventing isolation. It’s so easy to feel like just another face in a sea of faces when you attend a school as large as the University of Toronto, home to more than 61,000 students.
Despite the pandemic, I’ve had the opportunity to join a sorority, three clubs and one recognized study group. Juggling the sorority and participating in the clubs and the study group definitely puts more on my to-do list, but it also creates a sense of community among my peers here at U of T. Being well-connected on campus isn’t just a way to make your resume look good, but it also tends to boost your grades. Studies have shown that students with strong friendships and community, tend to have better grades and have a better overall academic experience.
More specifically, one of my favorite experiences so far this year has definitely been joining a club called Connections. The club is intended to be a safe space for Black women, with discussions on race as it pertains to Black women and what it’s like to be a Black woman on the University of Toronto campus.
This past week, the Connections club hosted a venting session in which a number of Black women got together over Zoom and vented about school, COVID, romance, friendships, racial issues in Canada and more. There were about nine or ten of us and boy did we rant! There was lots of laughter and discussion about what it’s like to lose friends during a pandemic, taking care of finances and preparing for life after graduation.
Truthfully, verbalizing the issues that affect Black women on a daily basis is part of the process for creating positive change, both on campus and in the real world. Likewise, venting gave me the opportunity to meet and connect with fellow Black peers. It also helped to make me feel less alone as a person of color at U of T.
Venting sessions aren’t the only way to get involved on campus. Any club activity can provide opportunities for connection and honestly, social connection has truly saved me during this pandemic.