The Bran Muffin of Classes

Some classes are like meringues: light and simple. Some are more like chocolate cake: dense and rich, but very satisfying. Some are like sweet and refreshing ice cream that goes down oh-so-smoothly. Like custard, some classes are heavy and decadent. Others are like chocolate chip cookies, appreciated for their classic appeal. Classes that are like toffee are a lot to chew on, but still very pleasant.

Pictured: cartoons of desserts
Can you tell I’m hungry? Picture Credit: 4-designer.com

Some classes, however, are like the bran muffin. The bran muffin is an affront to delicious things everywhere; it is utterly dull and a waste of time and calories. To make matters worse, it sometimes has nasty little shrivelled-up raisins lurking inside. No one likes a bran muffin.

Sometimes, you have to eat bran muffins though, don’t you? Perhaps when your sweet old Granny makes them for you, or when your local Timmies runs out of everything else, or when you feel like inflicting pain on those nasty little raisins. Sometimes, you just don’t have a choice when it comes to bran muffins.

The same goes for bran muffin classes. You will have at least one over the course of your university career; everybody does. Maybe you’ll need it as a breadth requirement, it will be a prerequisite for something else you want to take, or it will be the only thing that fits into your schedule. There will be no escaping it. That’s how you’ll end up in a bran muffin class, in spite of its snooze-worthy subject matter, never-ending readings, miserable locale—OISE auditorium anyone?—and its professor’s annoying goat-like voice. March 13th is the last day to drop an S section course, so it’s high time to decide if you want to stick it out or not. If you want or need to persevere, stick with me! I’ll try to show you how to turn a yucky bran muffin into a beautiful cupcake.

Pictured: Bran muffin
Yuck. Picture Credit: sini.co.uk

Okay, maybe not a cupcake, but at least a slightly-less-terrible bran muffin:


Emma’s Slightly-Less-Terrible Bran Muffin Recipe

An open letter to a younger me

Two nights ago I called my mother on the phone. This is relatively normal thing for me to do, as I try to call/Skype my mum at least once a week. Since moving away from home, I miss her companionship, her wisdom and sometimes (although I hate admitting it) – her telling me what to do and when to do it. It was during this phone call where I found myself expressing how silly I had been to believe I had my whole life planned out at the beginning of university. I was seventeen and to be perfectly honest, a little too self-righteous for my own good.

I spent the next fifteen woefully confessing to my mother all the visions of my future I had imagined through my rose-coloured glasses – and how nothing was like I thought it to be.

A Shy Girl’s Guide to Tutorial

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.

Pictured: George from Arthur with his ventriloquist dummy
I don’t think having a ventriloquist dummy speak for you counts. Lookin’ at you, George.
Image courtesy of: http://www-tc.pbskids.org/arthur/i/friends/photos/george2.jpg

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:

It’s essay season; do you know where your apostrophe should go?

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:

Pictured: graphic of "Yaaaaaaas werk!" written in the fanciest calligraphy font I could findThat 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 from rageful 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.

That Forgetting Feeling

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.

Pictured: string tied around my finger
An oldie but a goodie

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.

Press Send and Prosper: E-mailing Profs

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!

Shudder.

Pictured: Spock from Star Trek staring at a computer
Spock is unimpressed by “lol jk” Picture courtesy of http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/

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: