There are 44 UofT libraries, spanning UofT’s three campuses. There are libraries of all shapes and sizes, all styles and atmospheres. You would think this would be enough for me. You would be wrong.
Recently, I have been cheating on UofT. Maybe I took #TryItUofT too far; you be the judge. Consider this my confession:
We have had a long and beautiful love affair. Just over three and a half years ago, I first decided to overlook your imposing and intimidating exterior and give you a chance. I grew to love you.
We have had some wonderful times together, haven’t we? Do you remember meeting my friends? We used to hang out and study together all the time. They grew to love you, too. We presented a united front during many a finals season. I came to see your beauty more and more as I got to know you better and better—your blossoming cherry trees in the summer, your amazing Toronto views, your Rare Book Library. I will never forget all that you have given me; you were always there to provide me with research materials and unlimited free WiFi. You have been my rock. I regret nothing. Please remember that.
We had our good times, yes, but after three and a half years of dogged commitment on my part, I have become more sensitive to your stone-hearted habits. Three and a half years of endless Starbucks lines, freezing my hands off in study rooms, and red-walled cages—I mean, elevators. I’m tired, Robarts. I can’t do it anymore. Things have changed.
I know you don’t want to hear this, but I’m seeing someone else.
In my very first post, I gave a pep talk for when you’re on your way to office hours. Did you read it? Did you go? Are you and your profs best friends now? Do you give each other wardrobe advice and go ice-skating? Well, that’s wonderful!
Just in case you wanted some more concrete advice, however, I have been compiling a list of potential icebreakers that will start you off on the right foot with your winter term profs. What better time could there be to share this list than right now, when you have to break literal ice on your trek to your prof’s office and break figurative ice upon arrival?
The way I see it, there are five main icebreaker categories:
You know that person in tutorial that is so articulate it hurts? They seem to have a rhythm when they speak, they never get lost in a train of thought, and they know how to hold everyone’s attention.
Does that person fill your heart, as it does mine, with equal parts envy and admiration? If so, read on.
For us, tutorial goes a bit like this:
“Should I put up my hand? Oh no, Mr. Perfect is talking now. He’s a tough act to follow; I’ll wait a few minutes. Waiting… Waiting… Oops, now we’re talking about something completely different. Back to the drawing board. Okay…. Okay… Got something… And she just said what I was thinking. No problem, I’ll think of something else. Thinking… Thinking… Blanking… Despairing… Five minutes left. Maybe I’ll talk next week. Oh wait! I have something! Too late now; my voice is weird anyway.”
At least, that’s usually how my internal monologue goes. I’m not very good at articulating my thoughts in tutorial-type settings; they make me feel extremely anxious and shy. I’m constantly afraid that I will forget what I meant to say in the middle of saying it, or that I will say something completely off the mark, or that I will forget how to speak altogether when everyone’s eyes turn to me.
I like to listen to my peers and I often gain really cool insights from their conversations. Sometimes, I like the way the conversation is flowing so much that I would rather not interrupt it with my own awkward contribution. Unfortunately, however, listening is not usually enough; we have to prove that we’re engaging with the tutorial to get full marks. Like it or not, we have to speak.
That is why I would like to share with you, my fellow Mr. Imperfects, the strategies I use to help me speak up in tutorial:
As I was walking down St. George the other day, I heard snippets from other peoples’ conversations. I promise, I wasn’t eavesdropping; I just forgot my headphones and I was bored. Anyways, these are the kinds of things I heard:
UofT, it seems we are in a sorry state of affairs at present. Of course, it’s to be expected at this time of year. We’re all just trying to put in that final hustle and make it to winter break.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m actively trying to face my final assignments with a more positive outlook; I’m trying to use my stress as a motivator. I want to appreciate every moment that I have as an undergrad student. However, I want to make something very clear:
None of that makes the work easy, and it certainly doesn’t make it go by any faster.
At about this time every year, I despair. I start to wonder how I am going to finish what seems to be a never-ending list of assignments and tasks. I start to wonder why I even came to this school; I must have a masochistic streak. The stress gets to me and I find myself resisting the urge to RSVP to a number of preposterous Facebook events (Dropping out of school to become a potato is a viable life decision, right? RIGHT??)
To make matters worse, the rest of the world does not seem to have gotten my memo. Don’t they know that I, along with all of UofT, am a big puddle of exam nerves? All I do is wake up, go to Robarts, go to class, return to Robarts, go home, and sleep! I am not feeling the Holiday cheer. Yet, everywhere I go, I hear sickeningly joyous holiday tunes, everything is pretty and sparkly and lit up, and there are tons of amazing events going on. Why is all of Toronto rubbing its holiday cheer in my face? I feel personally victimized by all this hollying and jollying and carrying on.
I know what you’re thinking; this girl is a classic Scrooge. You may be right. I’ll have you know, however, that I have been trying to embrace the spirit of the season. Last night, I went to Christmas High Table at Trinity College. Despite my best protestations—”I have too much work to do,” “I hate carolling,” “I don’t like cranberry sauce”—my roommates would not take no for an answer and they dragged me along.
You gotta write good like you know you should. Take them words and string ’em together all smart-like. Why? Because words make us wanna go:
That was painful, I know. I am deeply sorry for putting you through that. The point of it was to show how cringeworthy bad writing can be. [Life@UofT will not be held responsible for any damages resulting fromrageful fits my above paragraph may have induced, including but not limited to thrown computers, torn pillows, and a decreased faith in humanity]
Good writing is so important in the academic environment. Professors believe that profoundly; a lot of what they do depends on the written word. It’s no surprise, then, that professors are often experts at writing well. I have picked up so many great tricks from them throughout my time at university. In the spirit of solidarity during prime essay season, I would like to share my favourite tips with you lovely people.
You know that thing that sometimes happens when you’re about to fall asleep but then all of a sudden you feel like you’re falling, you jerk violently, and you’re wide awake again? That’s how I feel when I realize I have forgotten something.
I don’t usually forget things; I’m a reasonably organized person and I have systems that I use to keep on top of things.
Every now and then, though, the occasional task slips through the cracks. One such occasion was just a little while ago. I’m taking this really interesting Legal Workshops course; I get to attend a few workshops at the Faculty of Law throughout the year. At the beginning of September, I chose the workshops I was interested in and signed up. I marked the workshops I signed up to attend in my calendar. I put them on my phone. You may have guessed, however, that I recently missed one.
Cyberspace: the final frontier. These are the enterprises of the modern student. Her undergraduate mission: to explore strange new syllabi, to seek out help and resources, to boldly go where many students have gone before…
…Her professor’s UTmail+ inbox.
Okay okay, maybe e-mailing a professor isn’t quite as exciting or high stakes as hiking through Andoria, but it can feel like a monolithic task. I have heard all sorts of horror stories—everything from sending a prof the wrong e-mail to accidentally using a text abbreviation!
After three years of interacting with professors through various mediums, I think I am starting to get the hang of it.
Here is what I always keep in mind when I’m drafting an e-mail:
In the spirit (tee hee, see what I did there?) of Student Life’s fifteen-minute leaf walks on campus—and also in the spirit of Halloween—I have decided to create a walking route of my own. Autumn leaves may be a tad more picturesque in terms of dead things you can observe on a walk, but ghosts are cool too.
Without further ado, I present to you my campus ghost walk!
I always look forward to Thanksgiving. This time around, I had a very productive time; I cleared out my closet of all the old clothes that I never wear anymore, I baked several pies, I caught up with friends from high school, I enjoyed the lovely wilderness that I REALLY miss when I’m living downtown, and I caught up with my little sister and my little canine sister.