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

 

Celebrate Good Times, C’mon

Hey folks; the semester is coming to an end, and if you hadn’t noticed, there is a lot to do on campus to help celebrate another fab year. With that in mind, I have decided to dedicate this week’s post to events that are happening over the coming weeks. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, just a couple to discuss; if you have one that you think belongs up here, please post it to my comments section!

NCSC – Grad Formal: Old Hollywood

The folks at New College are putting on their annual grad formal, however, all students are welcome. The event will be held at the Fountainblu Event Venue on the CNE grounds. The event is 19+ and ID is required both  to purchase tickets and at the event itself.

Tickets are $50 per person for New College Students, and $60 for non (each New College student may bring one non-New College student to the event). There is an additional $5 fee if you want to take the limo service being offered from New College to the venue.

Dinner will be a three-course meal featuring stuffed chicken breast and grilled steak.

For more information, contact the New College Student Council at gradyear@myncsc.com.

WCSA – Woodsworth’s Annual Awards Gala

If you don’t already have a ticket to this event, but want to go, you are out of luck. Tickets have sold out.

This is also a formal event that is happening on March 31st at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

As the name suggests, this is not just a dinner, but an awards gala and several awards will be handed out by the WCSA executive.

There will be an elegant dinner provided, and complimentary bar service all night.

Woodsworth students who do not have tickets can ask to go on the waitlist, however unlikely it is that a ticket will become available.

For more information, please visit WCSA.

MatSA End of Year Banquet

This is an event that is near and dear to my heart, and will be happening on April 27.

This year the event will be held at Hart House in two separate rooms; first, the South Dining Room will be set up to host a cocktail reception where there will be appetizers such as baked brie and vegetable antipasto. Following the cocktail party, guests are to make their way across the hallway for dinner in the Music Room. Following dinner there will be dancing back in the South Dining Room.

Dinner will be a buffet spread with some awesome grub. Highlights of the menu include miso glazed black cod, portobello and cremini ragu, and roasted fillet of beef tenderloin. Ok, just talking about it makes my stomach rumble in anticipation.

Tickets will go on sale soon for $10 per person, and each student is allowed to bring one guest. Check out the Facebook event or the MatSA website for ticket purchasing information.

Like I said, there are tons of things going on, so feel free to share your event in the comments section. Best wishes to all and I hope you have a great end-of-semester bash!

 

Jon

 

It’s Time for a Change

The idea of daylight savings time was first toyed with by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, however, the modern idea of it comes from George Vernon Hudson who proposed this in 1895. Ultimately, it took effect during the First World War in Germany, ultimately being adopted during peace-time in the United States starting around 1966. Its purpose is to extend the amount of daylight during the evening time, and to shorten the daylight in the mornings.

For its entire history, daylight savings time has been a contentious issue around the world, being defeated and adopted by various governments, territories and regions.

No matter who you are, the changing of the clocks will affect your sleep schedule. To minimize this impact we change the clocks on a Sunday morning, but for many of us the effects of the change can affect us for weeks.

This week, my post is about tricks and tips I have learned for adjusting your body’s sleep schedule, and hopefully regaining some sort of balance to your internal clock.  Having been a long sufferer of insomnia I do have quite a bit of experience in getting myself into bed.

Preparing for Sleep

This may sound simple and unscientific, however if you start preparing for sleep in advance, your body starts to get ready to go to sleep. This will include winding down your activities, maybe putting on your pyjamas, doing some reading and/or listening to some music. Everyone has their own ritual in how they prepare for sleep, and if you start this at say 10pm each evening (work and school permitting), you should be able to get yourself in the mood for slumber within a couple of hours.

Pyjamas

Beverage and Food

There are many beverages and foods out there that will have a significant impact on our ability to go to, and stay asleep. When you know bedtime is approaching, some simple guidelines should aide you in your ultimate goal. This will of course mean limiting (or eliminating) caffeine products such as cola, coffee or chocolate, as this will stimulate you to stay awake. Further, try to avoid heavy meals near bedtime; this is not only good to ensure a good night’s sleep, but your waistline will thank you for it as well. If you want something to drink before bed, stick with water or herbal tea. Chamomile tea is a natural sedative and will help you get to sleep.

Chamomile Tea

The Bubble Bath

I know some people dislike the idea of taking a bath, as you are basically sitting in your own filth, however if you take a quick shower and then add some suds to the tub you are in for a very relaxing treat. Extend the tranquility by lighting some candles and maybe burning some incense or some sort of aromatherapy. Then, all you need to do is lie back and relax in the warm water.

Bubble Bath

For the best results, I recommend combining the tips from above. I will start winding down my day as bedtime approaches and grab a chamomile tea and set off for the tub. I have been doing a pretty good job with my sleep habits for a few years now, and I hope that this post will help you out as well.

Finally, I just want to tell you that if you are not ready to go to sleep, don’t go to bed. There is nothing worse than tossing and turning all night because you went when you weren’t sleepy. If you are not ready for bed read a book or something that you know can make you tired.

If you have suggestions of your own or comments on mine, please fill out my comment section below.

Until next time, happy slumbers.

-Jon

Drinks on me!

While on vacation for this past Reading Week, I got to thinking about things, particularly with the amount of alcohol I was consuming. It seemed that every day (well, not seemed; it WAS) I was out drinking. Don’t get me wrong, I was having a great time, but I was thinking that there could be a way to enjoy yourself without having to get drunk or tipsy every time you go out.

This week, I am dedicating my blog to providing some alternatives to consuming alcohol when you go out, a routine we naturally fall into sometimes.

The easiest way to enjoy your favourite drinks while giving your liver a break is the “mocktail.” Here are some recipes that I have enjoyed over the years to get you thinking of how to convert your drink to something tasty and not-so-bad for you.

The Smart-ini

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 2 oz. pineapple juice, 2 tsp. of lime juice and 2 oz. cranberry juice. Shake and strain into a Martini glass.

Garnish with pineapple and a cranberry skewer.

Alternatively, you can add all the ingredients into a rocks glass with ice and stir.

Yields one drink.

Smart-ini

Caesar Jr.

Rim a double old fashioned glass with fresh lime and celery salt. Fill with ice and add 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire, 1/4 tsp. tabasco (or to taste), the juice of 1/4 fresh lime and 1/2 tsp. grated horseradish. Top with clamato and stir. Garnish with a celery stalk and a cherry tomato (optional).

Yields one drink.

Caesar Jr.
Tropical Spritzer

In a cocktail glass filled with ice, add 3 oz. mango juice and 3 oz. peach juice. Top with soda water and stir to mix. Garnish with a star fruit.

Yields one drink.

Tropical Spritzer

Alcohol-Free Mojitos

Combine 2 cups of water and 1 ½ cups of sugar in a microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of chopped mint leaves and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain and discard the mint leaves from the syrup, and set aside.

Stir 2 cups of softened lime sherbet, 1 cup of lime juice, and 1 cup of water together in a large pitcher until well combined. Pour the mint-infused syrup into the mixture and add 8 cups of club soda and stir. Serve over ice and garnish with lime slices.

Yields 14 drinks.

Mojito

 

The Shirley Temple

This is a classic non-alcohol beverage, and does not require many ingredients. In a tall glass pour 6 oz of lemon-lime flavoured carbonated beverage (i.e. 7up), and a dash of grenadine over ice. Add a maraschino cherry for garnish and enjoy!

Yields one drink.

Shirley Temple

 

For the beer drinker out there, there are options to get alcohol-free beer at many bars and clubs, and you can buy some at your local grocery store. You can enjoy the flavour of a nice lager with only .05% alcohol consumption per can.

Alcohol-Free Beer

 

Also, when you are out at a bar or a club, don’t be shy to ask the bartender or server for a virgin cocktail. Most know how to make the more popular cocktails sans alcohol, and often it is a lot cheaper than the alcohol version.

I hope that these recipes help you out in some fashion, whether it is a new way for you to enjoy yourself when you go out, or as a way to give your liver a much needed break. If you want more thoughts on mocktails, simply Google it and millions of recipes will pop up.

-Jon

Time for a check-up

How are you doing with your New Year Resolutions? It has now been two months into 2012, and I think this is a great time to reflect on how you are doing (or not doing, as the case may be).

The first thing you need to understand is that your enthusiasm garnished around the New Year will have waned, and will continue to wane as time goes on. You are going to come up with excuses why you couldn’t lose any weight, or why you had to have that cigarette. It happens. It can be hard to maintain your motivation and dedication when you are unable to see immediate results. To get over this, be persistent and use your strong will power to keep chugging along, and eventually you will see your results.

Next, re-evaluate your goals that your resolution was to attain. Going with the losing weight analogy, is it realistic for your goal to lose 100 lbs. this year? Is it realistic for you to swear to vegetarianism or veganism, when you absolutely love hamburgers? By taking a second look at what you want to accomplish, you may discover that there is a different path to attaining a goal that is realistic for you, thus you increase your chances of being successful.

Hamburger

Another important step is to face your fear of change. Going to the gym four times a week is a huge change to your schedule, especially if you have classes and work to go to on a daily basis. Fearing change is a huge factor in failing at your resolutions. My best advice is to reward yourself for a job well done; after a month of going to the gym four times a week buy yourself some new shoes, or a new video game, something that will make it worth it.

Video Games

Additionally, you may want to begin again without any recriminations. Basically, if you fall off track of your goal, set a new one and start again on Monday. In fact, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health encourages people to use Monday as a day for health and wellness. Despite your set back, you can get right back on track.

Also, make sure to keep your friends and family in the loop; if you have a strong support system in place, your chances of being successful are greatly improved. Choose someone to help you. This can be invaluable, specifically if that person is attempting the same resolution as yourself. Seek advice, ideas, and feedback as needed, and don’t feel bad for moments of weakness.

Finally, my best advice is to keep a gratitude journal. This can involve explaining what you did that day, how you feel, and what a good part of how you feel was. This can boost confidence daily as you can more easily see your progress, and can help you in your moments of weakness by reviewing your journal. Additionally, this can help you stay grounded and motivated.

Well, those are my tips for continuing or getting back on track with your New Year resolutions. Personally, I have been doing well with mine, which was quitting smoking. Occasionally I need a little bit of refocusing and support, but it is going well. I think I have beaten it.

Whatever your resolution is/was, I wish you the best of luck. I also encourage you to share your stories with others in my comment section.

-Jon

 

 

 

Thirty per cent off? For who?

As many of you may know, the Ontario government recently awarded university and college students a 30 percent rebate on tuition paid for the winter 2012 semester, and committed to providing a 30 percent tuition reduction going forward. Sounds good, right?

Well, it is good to the estimated 30 percent of students that will actually benefit from this! Thousands of Ontario college and university students are deemed ineligible based on the government’s criteria to qualify.

Cleverly, the government set up four distinct qualifiers for this “rebate.”

You must be a full time student at a public college or university in Ontario

So far so good – for most of us. But what about the thousands of part time students that are working full time jobs in order to afford to go to school? In my opinion, part timers need this too. It is hard to work full time and fit school into your schedule, and most people that do this do it so that they do not amass a giant amount of debt.

Your parents’ income in $160,000 or less

I am all for this in situation where parents are footing the bill. But, for many of us, we are on our own to pay these tuition fees. We take out OSAP loans, we take out bank loans. We work, we live in poverty. Just because our parents are well-off does not automatically mean that we are benefitting financially from them. Sure, parents may help out every now and again when you are flat broke, but, they are not required to support us in our university exploits.

It’s been less than four years since you left high school

This one I have the biggest problem with. How does the time between leaving high school and starting university have anything to do with your financial need? Every year thousands of what are considered “mature students” enrol at the U of T. Some people simply aren’t ready to jump into university straight out of high school. According to the OSAP website mature students have been deemed ineligible because generally we qualify for more OSAP. This is crazy. Mature students are excluded because we can amass more debt?  I cannot see any reason why this should be a criteria.

You’re in a program that you can apply to directly from high school

Every year hundreds of students enter via bridging programs such as the Academic Bridging Program or the Transitional Year Program. These are great avenues to higher education; however, these students are not eligible. According to the website this is because you “may” qualify for OSAP (which you do not in Academic Bridging), or you “may” qualify for the Ontario Bridging Participant Assistance Program. To be honest, I came through bridging and have never heard of this OBPAP. Additionally, second degree students such as those in law or medical schools do not qualify despite tuition for these programs being astronomical.

Overall I think this tuition rebate is a flop. It is inaccessible to most, and at the same time the government has cut legitimate grants and bursaries to post-secondary students to cover the costs of the program.

If you haven’t sensed it yet, I am not eligible for this rebate, nor are any of my mature student friends. It sounded like a good idea to begin with, but the criteria make it near impossible for an average student to receive this benefit.

What do you think?

-Jon

Gotta Get Away

It is that time of year again, and, after much anticipation, Reading Week is nearly upon us. To celebrate, I suggest getting out of Toronto in some fashion, and my post this week is going to be about two popular destinations.

Go to Montreal

Montreal may be one of the least expensive, yet most exciting trip for when you only have a few days. In fact, the New College Student Council is putting on a Reading Week Trip. If you choose an option to stay in a room with three other people you can go for four days and three nights from just $150 per person, taxes included. Non-New College students start at $190. I am sure spaces are limited, so be sure to hurry.

 Montreal

If the group trip to Montreal isn’t your thing, you can also choose to get there and stay by yourself or with a couple of friends. Montreal can be economical for the student traveller. First, you can get round-trip bus fare for $97, taxes included, and then stay at one of the hundreds of hostels that can be as low as $16 a night if you don’t mind staying in a dorm-style room.

Food in Montreal is quite reasonable, with both a mix of popular brand restaurants and unique outlets for the French-Canadian city. I would budget between $20 – $30 a day for food, depending on how much and what of you want to eat. Also, remember that the drinking age is 18 in Quebec, so be sure to bring your ID.

Getting around Montreal is best by Metro; a week pass goes for $23.50, or $3 per cash fare.

More information about Montreal can be found as the Tourisme-Montreal website.

Go to New York City

Surprisingly less expensive by bus at a mere $84, New York City may be the place for you to bounce off to. The bus itself takes about 10 hours to get there, but if you don’t mind sleeping one night in a bus then it won’t be a big deal.

New York City

I personally have never been to New York City, however, I am dying to go at some point in the near future.

Hostels are just as reasonable and varied as any major city, with a quality dorm-style room for about $19 a night. Of course, there are numerous neighbourhoods of New York, so it may be beneficial to get a moderately priced hostel in the area you are looking for.

Keep in mind that you must have a valid passport to cross the border, but you are allowed $200 worth of products back, including duty-free products.

I can’t speak from experience about the food in New York, but have heard that it is a culinary smorgasbord. I am sure that prices are relative to the type of restaurant you are in, but there will be tons of fast-cheap-food options available. I would say to plan for $30 – $35 a day in food.

Getting around New York is simple with the extensive transit system throughout the entire city. An unlimited metro card is just $29 for 7 days, or you can pay $2.50 per cash fare.

For more information about New York City, visit the Official Guide to New York.

These are just a couple of ideas I had for Reading Week, but my main point is this: get out of town, enjoy some time off. Visit your parents (as I am), or get away to the sun. Why not even become a tourist in our own city and explore it all over again.

Make it a Reading Week worth talking about, and share what you are doing in my comments!

-Jon

Someone’s Watching You…

OK, everyone uses them. If they say they don’t, then they are lying. What am I talking about? Social media sites, most commonly Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook

My first observation about these two infernal time-wasters is that my spell check in Word recognizes Facebook and Twitter and doesn’t suggest any corrections. A decade ago these two terms were unheard of, and within that short period have become commonplace, even with my parents.

 Twitter

I’ve been thinking about my own pet peeves about social media etiquette. That, combined with an interesting read I had from the Globe & Mail, inpsired me would share some things that can possibly get you thinking as to avoid issues from your friends.

First off, I have heard from so many people that they keep two separate profiles on both Facebook and Twitter; one for your actual friends and an extremely PG one for parents and other family members who manage to track you down. I think this is an awesome idea, provided you don’t get caught by mom and dad. “Why do you have two profiles? What is on the other one? Why won’t you be my friend on that one?” To avoid this, some of my friendes actually use a completely different name than the one given to them at birth, but then to go through the process of untagging themselves from photos that get posted with them out drinking with friends the night before a final.

Next, you need to think about what you are posting, and how that may make your friends cringe. A prime example of this is checking in on foursquare to a location and telling the world who is there with you. This is bad etiquette, as you don’t know that your friends will appreciate their location at a certain time being disclosed. They may have just told their significant other that they were staying in to study, but have popped out to the discotheque, or maybe they have a Facebook stalker. Regardless of the situation, stop doing this.

Another element that can land people in hot water is tagging them in ill-gotten photos from the night at the pub where they have had a couple too many. Now I know it is fun and all to share your friend’s most unattractive time, but Facebook and everyone on it can really live without seeing these. Keep in mind that when you tag someone, EVERYONE on your friends list and EVERYONE on their lists can see the picture.

You also have to take into account what you are writing on your own and other’s walls. Once again, all kinds of people can see these messages. Top topics best to avoid: sex, relationships, illegal activity/incriminating comments, etc…

In all, these sites are supposed to help us connect with people, not to make us social paraiahs in the eyes of our friends (or our friends’ friends).

On a final note, keep in mind that potential employers do check social media sites for some covert background information about the people they consider for a job. They may find something that you or a friend of yours has posted and decide that you are the wrong person for them.

Just remember, things that go on the internet are not private and people are going to see (and judge) you.

Just my opinion.

Cheers,

Jon

This Winter, Spice Things Up!

Feeling down in the dumps? Needing something exciting to help you get through this semester? Well folks, I have a series of events that are for you!

This year, as what has become an annual tradition for the Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre (SEC), is the much talked about Sexual Awareness Week (SAW).

SAW

The week is a dedication to educating and celebrating everything to do with sex, and it is happening right now!

Now, I couldn’t get this posted before the first event happened yesterday, but just know it was a great time for all. SEC, along with LGBTOUT rented the entire complex of Oasis Aqualounge for “Sexy Social Time.” Guests enjoyed access to the outdoor pool and private courtyard, while taking advantage of the indoor hot tub, sauna, and steam rooms. The venue, which is touted as a water-themed adult’s playground, was taken over by students to provide an experience that many may have overlooked or been too scared to do on their own.

But not to fret; there are more events every day this week that you can get to.

When: Tuesday, January 31st 2012 – 2 – 4pm

What: C’est What You Want to Know About Pleasure and Communication

Where: Claude T. Bissel Building, Room 112

Volunteers lead a discussion on strategies of how to negotiate consent and pleasure in this interactive workshop. Examples will be provided that show situations that challenge communication, and how to handle these.  Kayla Wright, SEC Executive Director says that this is “a workshop geared towards healthy communication with partners, whether or not they’re casual or long-term.” It should be informative and most importantly, fun.

 

When: Tuesday, January 31st 2012 – 6 – 8pm

What: Yoga for Two

Where: 21 Sussex Clubhouse Rehearsal Room (4th Floor)

An event for couples (or close friends) to get up close and personal during a yoga session. No experience is necessary, and Kayla says that there will be “fun poses for two that help improve stretching and flexibility.”

When: Wednesday. February 1st 2012 – 2 – 5pm

What: Porn and Cookies

Where: SEC Office – 21 Sussex Ave. Room 612

This event has become one of the most popular year after year; the SEC office offers a safe and non-judgmental space to view and learn about porn, while enjoying some cookies with new friends. This event is for everyone, regardless of how much porn they have or have not seen. It is actually a different experience watching it in a group.

When: Wednesday, February 1st 2012 – 6 – 9pm

What: Sushi and Hentai

Where: SEC Office – 21 Sussex Ave. Room 612

Sushi will be served as participants view hentai anime, all while raising awareness about sexual cultures other than the Western one we live with. “Like porn and cookies, we watch hentai and order a few platters of sushi” says Kayla.

 

When: Thursday, February 2nd 2012 – 11am – 2pm

What: STIcky Situations

Where: OISE Room 2279

As SEC volunteers know, there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation going around about STIs, which persist in our communities. This interactive discussion provides a safe space for you to come out and find out about the STIs that are out there, how to avoid them, and how to deal with them.

When: Thursday, February 2nd 2012 – 2 – 5pm

Where: SEC Office – 21 Sussex Ave. Room 612

“Curious about role-play? This is the event for you, lots of drama games and discussions on how to enjoy being you being someone else,” says Kayla. This workshop is great for those who love to make a scene and wants to introduce the eroticism of role-play into their sexual repertoire.

When: Thursday, February 2nd 2012 – 6 – 9pm

What: S/Mile

Where: SEC Office – 21 Sussex Ave. Room 612

Ever thought about stepping out of the vanilla stuff you are used to and experiencing something a bit kinky? SEC once again offers a safe and sex-positive space to discuss the other side to sex and foreplay. Come out if you are interested, or come for some free snacks.

When: Friday, February 3rd 2012 – 2 – 4pm

What: Butt Play for Boys

Where: Innis College, Room 312

This event is rather self-descriptive, as it tackles the stigma around anal play for “male-bodied folk.” Although the workshop will focus on pleasuring men, people of any gender or sexual identity are welcome.

When: Friday, February 3rd 2012 5 – 7pm

What: Bawdy Painting

Where: SEC Office – 21 Sussex Ave. Room 612

Whether you are single or part of a couple (or more, I’m not judging), you can come out and experience the fun and erotic act of painting on each other. If you come alone, you will meet some new friends all while making others’ bodies pieces of art.

When: Friday, February 3rd 2012 – 8pm – 12am

What: SEC’s Games

Where: Hart House East Common Room

Popular games such as dirty bingo and the dating game are just a couple of the wacky antics that SECers will be up to on this night. Plus, there will be prizes!

Well, that’s a synopsis of what is happening this week. I know that not all of the events will appeal to everyone, but I am sure there is one or two things that have piqued your interest (even if you are too bashful to admit it!)

Overall, SEC aims to provide safe and sex-positive spaces for students on campus, and a lot of planning goes into this annual event. For more information about these events, or for more information about the work that SEC does year round, visit their website.

If you go to one or more of these events, please leave a comment on my post so we know how it went!

Cheers,

Jon

 

Get ready for summer!

I know. It’s cold and there’s a little bit of snow out there, and we are only a couple of weeks into this new semester, but, it is really time to start thinking about, if not planning, what you are going to do this spring/summer.

The reason I bring this up is because opportunities are already available, and your chance to partake may be limited the longer you wait to make a decision. My post this week will go over different opportunities I am pondering, as well as some (hopefully) useful links to get your mind-juices flowing.

Summer Abroad

According to the Summer Abroad Website, “The Summer Abroad programs are designed to enrich students’ academic lives by providing an exciting and educational international experience. Students complete full-year University of Toronto undergraduate degree credit courses from the Faculty of Arts & Science that are relevant to each location.”

Summer Abroad

Where else can you travel and live in a foreign country for 4-6 weeks while earning a U of T credit?

This year, Summer Abroad is offering courses in countries and regions such as:

  • Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Poland)
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Shanghai, China
  • Ecuador
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Southeastern Europe (Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia)
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Taiwan
  • India
  • Switzerland

The cost for the programs range from $3154 for India to $7953 for Kenya, with the figures including airfare, accommodations, meals, and course fees. Those numbers may seem daunting, but there are financial aid opportunities for each destination.

The programs, which can include classes in subjects as varied as Shakespeare and Astrophysics, vary in start time from early May to August, and end from early June right up until September 2.  If this is what you want to do, there is a timeframe that will fit your busy summer schedule.

Explore

If the thought of getting away is appealing, but you want to stay closer to home, or cannot afford the price tag associated with the Summer Abroad, then maybe check out the Explore summer language learning program.

Explore

The program is five weeks long and takes place in universities across the country. Over the summer, you will learn and enhance your French-language skills in this intensive program, the costs of which are almost entirely covered by a lottery-awarded bursary program!

To be eligible for the program, you must meet these requirements;

  • Be a Canadian citizen (those studying on visas are not eligible
  • Be in at least grade 11 during the preceding school year or be enrolled in a post-secondary institution
  • Have been full time at least one term during the current school year

For the majority of you out there, you will qualify, and you may be able to transfer the credits earned towards your U of T degree (the site recommends you check with your institution).

Internship Program (ACT FAST!)

Internship

The Ontario Internship Program offers a two-year paid position in a wide array of roles within the Ontario ministries. The program is open to people who are graduating, or have done so within the previous two years. But, if this is what you want to do, you must act VERY VERY FAST! The deadline for application is January 25th. That’s TOMORROW. Check out more information at the Ontario Internship Site.

Summer Job

Finding that perfect summer job can enhance your summer by providing you with some good, honest work experience to bolster your resume. It may even lead to something part-time for during the school year!

With the extra money you are bringing in you can go crazy wild over the summer partying, or, more practically, save the money for the next school semester.

The easiest way to start looking for summer jobs is on the U of T Career Centre site. You can specify your job search to list summer positions. Alternately, you can search for student jobs at the Canada Job Bank.

Summer Classes at U of T

Summer is a great time to get ahead in your program, or pick up an elective credit that you may not have the time for during the fall or winter semesters.

Classes are generally smaller. However, they go at twice the pace as classes during the school year. A half-credit class generally meets two to three times per week for six weeks, and full credit classes meet for twelve weeks. OSAP applications can be amended to provide additional funding over the summer.

To help you start planning for the summer, the U of T has released its preliminary timetable for the summer, indicating whether the classes being offered will be during the evening or day.

These are just a few of the ideas that are floating around in my head, and I hope I have gotten you thinking about how you are going to spend your summer.

Do you have something interesting being planned for summer? Share it with us in the comments section!

Best,

Jon