A U of T Student’s Recipe for Success

I’d like to consider myself a borderline foodie, and as a result, I refuse to let the quality of my meals slip just because of a few trivial things like ‘exams’ or ‘homework.’ I have a few go-to methods and recipes to make sure that even when heading to Robarts at 8AM for a 12 hour study session during midterms, I’ll still be able to have a healthy and preferably home-cooked meal to eat. Apparently cake pops and Frappucinos are not part of a balanced meal.

IMG_2463

When it looks this good, anything can be a part of a balanced meal.

I’ve come to the realization that the problems with being healthy while busy (for me at least) can be narrowed down to a few issues:

  1. Money
  2. Flavor
  3. Time

Sometimes, it may just be easier to grab a cheesy poutine from the food truck, but I still try to make myself decent food despite these issues. After many failed attempts with expensive veggies, bland food and simply just sleeping in too late to cook anything, I’ve finally figured out a system that works for me. So here is one of my favourite recipes, along with some of my useful shortcuts to go along with it!

IMG_4586

Couscous Salad!

Let me take a minute to express my outright love for couscous. All you have to do is add boiling water, and it cooks in 5 minutes. Even if a 5-minute cooking time isn’t short enough, this is the perfect food to make in big batches on a Sunday night, for a daily grab-and-go during the week. It’s also super customizable. So if kale or celery isn’t your thing, you can add whatever vegetables you love (or whatever vegetables are cheapest to buy!). I have a flyer app on my phone called Reebee that gets me all the grocery store flyers, so I scan it to stock up on fruits, veggies, and anything else I might need thats on sale.

Recipe: Amounts can vary depending on how much you want to make but here are the general ingredients! Enjoy!

-1 cup of cooked couscous
-1/2 cup of chopped kale
-1/2 cup of scraped carrots
-1/2 cup of scraped zucchini
-1 tomatoe, diced into small pieces
-1 small onion diced into small pieces
-1 tsp chopped ginger
-salt and pepper to taste
-lemon juice
-2-3 tbsp of olive oil

Instructions: Sauté ginger, carrots and zucchini and kale in a large pan. When cooked to your desire, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix together the tomatoes and onions with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Once everything has cooled down, mix together in a large bowl and store in the fridge! This will save cooking time in the morning so you can be more relaxed. Or, you can always sleep in longer and rush out the door, but either way, you have a meal ready to go!

To make it extra special (this is where the flavor comes in), invest in some flavourful ingredients such as sriracha sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil or fresh coriander (or other herbs). Most of these don’t go bad very easily and last in the pantry or fridge for a long time. It’s comforting to know that the $4 I spent on sriracha was well worth it.

photo

Just kidding, I never regret the sriracha.

Sometimes, even despite our best efforts, life can get too hectic to even make time for cooking (see: Finals week). If you ever need to find somewhere to eat on campus, there’s a app for iPhone and Android with the UeaT Campus Food Map! You’ll have all of the campus restaurants and cafés at your fingertips!

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 5.12.19 PM

Makes it easier to find Harvest Noon <3

So tell me U of T, what are your go-to healthy recipes? Let me know down below in the comments or tweet me your suggestions at @Api_UofT on Twitter!

Library Lovin’

Last week I had my very first (and maybe last?) summer school exam and I found myself once again spending a lot of time in the library. I’ve never been one for studying much in Robarts (although the 12th floor views are a big pull for getting there earlier and snagging a table in the window section of the St. George corner) so over the last 2 years I’ve sought out smaller, more visually appealing libraries. If you read my last post you’ve already gotten to see some of my favourite (outdoor) study spaces so this one will be some of my favourite indoor spaces!

Hart House • 7:00 am – Midnight • noise level varies hh

Hart House Library is a great space because it's so central on campus. Unfortunately every other student at U of T also thinks it's a great space so all the good spots are pften taken. Never fear though, you can normally find a spot onthe benches and chairs on the landing, or at a table in the reading room.

Hart House Library is a great space because it’s so central on campus. Unfortunately every other student at U of T also thinks it’s a great space so all the good spots are often taken. Never fear though, you can normally find a spot on the benches and chairs on the landing, or at a table in the reading room.

HH3

Chairs and benches on the landing

This is on the landing at the east end of Hart House and I've never actiually studied here because it's always occupied but one day I will.

This is on the landing at the east end of Hart House. I’ve never actiually studied here because it’s always occupied but one day, if I’m lucky, I will.

Knox College Library • hours vary • quiet space

knox lib'

The perfectly inspiring place, especially when poring over history books. Look up and be transported to a bygone age of architecture. Make sure you check out the old card catalogues!

Emmanuel College Library (Victoria College) • hours vary • quiet space

This tiny library is so beautiful and only gets really full at the peak of exam season. To get here go to the third floor of Emmanuel College, in front of you will be the reading room (which I also love) and to your right is the library. There are divided desks throughout the main floor and some (but don’t quote me on this) up on the mezzanine.  DSCF2541DSCF2537DSCF2535

DSCF2528

The reading room opposite the stairs. People seem to sleep in here a lot.

Campus Getaways

I would pretty confidently call myself a city person. Ever since deciding to come to the University of Toronto I’ve wholeheartedly embraced city living and I cannot see myself living outside of a city anytime in my immediate future. That being said, I do come from a town that has a population of less than 10,000 people and is literally surrounded by farms and sometimes I really miss the quiet countryside.

What I love about U of T is that although it is right downtown there are still so many spots on campus that you can go where you can’t see (or hear in some places) any cars, or see any condos. These are some of my favourite little urban getaways on campus that I like to hang out in when I just can’t bear to see another taxi or bus.

Is your favourite getaway on here? Let me know in the comments!

I have named this the Vic Oasis, I don't know if it has a real name but I feel like Oasis is fitting. This gem is nestled between Pratt Library and Lower Burwash under a giant tree. The only downside to this spot is the people sudying in Pratt will be staring at you the entire time you're there.

I have named this the Vic Oasis, I don’t know if it has a real name but I feel like Oasis is fitting. This gem is nestled between Pratt Library and Lower Burwash under a giant tree. The only downside to this spot is the people studying in Pratt will be staring at you the entire time you’re there.

even if you turn around at the vic oasis you still can't really see any cars

Even if you turn around at the Vic oasis you still can’t really see any cars or many people at all.

If you get lucky and don't find Hart House quad otherwise occupied by a wedding party (I don't blame the wedding parties, I mean look at it) the tables are a great place to sit and read or just chill.

If you get lucky and don’t find Hart House quad otherwise occupied by a wedding party (I don’t blame the wedding parties, I mean look at it) the tables are a great place to sit and read or just chill.

hart house statue

I have so may memories associated with the Trinity Quad that it almost feels like my own backyard... almost. Sitting under the trees with a book is my favourite summer activity to do here. Trying not to fall as I cross the frozen tundra is my favourite winter activity here.

I have so may memories associated with the Trinity Quad that it almost feels like my own backyard… almost. Sitting under the trees with a book is my favourite summer activity to do here. Trying not to fall as I cross the frozen tundra is my favourite winter activity here.

I like the University College Quad in that it's very different from those of Trin and Hart House, it's wilder and has a lot more shade.

I like the University College Quad in that it’s very different from those of Trin and Hart House. It feels wilder and has a lot more shade and I just want to picnic here always.

Knox College is in between Kings College Circle and St. George Street. With two quads seperated by a cloister there is an abundance of options for study spots/general relax-in-the-sun spots.

Knox College is in between Kings College Circle and St. George Street. With two quads separated by a cloister there is an abundance of options for study spots/general relax-in-the-sun spots. I think I’ve speant more time here this summer than anywhere else on campus.

I really love this place.

I really love this place.

can you tell we're in the middle of the biggest city in Canada?

Can you tell we’re in the middle of the biggest city in Canada?

I take a lot of instagram pictures here (follow me @lifeatuoft)

I take a lot of instagram pictures here (follow me @lifeatuoft)

My Toronto Staycation!

I really wanted to go on vacation this year. Like really, really wanted to go. Earlier this year I had my sights set on trying delicacies in Europe, touring ancient architecture in India, or having a breathtaking stay in Nepal.

But, alas, as summer rolled around, I knew it wouldn’t be possible this year, because of the summer grind. Vacations are hard enough to plan without jobs, school, student budgetary restraints (that’s a nice way of saying I’m a broke college student) and other summer commitments getting in the way. I’ve accepted that my cool vacation in a country I’ve never been to still awaits me (in the near future hopefully), but I didn’t want to spend my summer without ANY vacation time at all.

To solve my vacation blues, I decided to go on some mini-adventures to fulfill my vacation needs right here in the city- a staycation!

Things Api would like during a staycation:

  • Somewhere to relax!
  • Exotic food I’ve never tried before
  • Pretty, historical architecture
  • Nice Views

My first stop of the week was to relax out at the Waterfront. It’s a quick subway ride to union station and a short walk to the ferries and the boardwalk. I decided to bring a book and have a seat at one of the benches, and it was probably the most relaxed I’ve been in a while. I returned to reality feeling a little better about my upcoming finals.

IMG_1965

Perfect day to relax!

Vacation spot number two was yummier than I expected. Toronto has endless possibilities when it comes to food from other cultures, but I wanted to try something something I’ve never had before. I ended up trying Kimchi fries for the first time and it was SO good! Kimchi fries are hand-cut fries with pulled pork, Kimchi (pickled cabbages), fresh leeks and a little bit of mayonnaise:

Some kimchi+pulled Pork yumminess <3

As U of T students, it’s fairly common to encounter pretty architecture, but I felt compelled to add it to my vacation list just because I need to see what else is out there (It’s not you Knox College, its me.) Therefore, spot number three was the Distillery District! This was probably the furthest spot from U of T, but its not so far out of the downtown core that it’s a difficult to get to. Truth be told, I’ve been to the Distillery before, but I just can’t get enough of it. I will use any excuse to take selfies with the twinkling lights at night time.

photo 2

I have about 20 versions of this picture because I take one every time I go #Guilty

My final vacation spot was…*Drumroll please*… The CN Tower! For one awesome view of Toronto, the ticket is totally worth it. If you look really closely you might be able to point out places on campus like UC, Convocation Hall and Varsity Stadium!

IMG_2509

Beautiful city, beautiful sunset!

Overall, my week has been awesome. It was nice to take a break from the regularly scheduled school programming. As the summer goes on, I plan to keep up my mini-staycations and visit somewhere different each week. So check out my shenanigans on Twitter @Api_UofT!

Until next time, U of T!

Being Graceful 24/7

I’ve been going strong with my ballet classes at the Athletic Centre, but I can’t believe I’ve completed a semester of pirouetting. Honestly, it still has not hit me that I will no longer be going to the dance studio every week to practice my dance moves—however, that doesn’t mean that the dancing has to be over!

Over the course of the semester, I learned to incorporate one of the toughest type of sports into my daily life. I practiced the art of strengthening my core by correcting my posture while in class, I kept up with my planking, and I stayed faithful to my warm up stretches. When I was not in the dance studio, I tried my best to incorporate every graceful aspect of ballet in between dance classes. Now, I call that discipline.

I remember attending my first class and having to depend on looking at the wall-length mirror for guidance as the instructor called out positions. Now I feel as if I’m on autopilot when it comes to going from one position to another—it’s slowly becoming second nature to me.

1st position, feet are angled opposite from one another while touching at the heels.

2nd position, feet are still angled opposite from one another, but this time a few inches apart.

3rd position, one foot is placed in front of the other while still angled opposite.

4th position, same as 3rd position, but this time a few inches apart.

Are you noticing the pattern here?

Last but not least, the 5th position, where feet touch each other again, but heel to toe.

Dancing does not have to be an optical illusion. -VIA MOILLUSIONS.COM

See, I got this. And I’ve improved with each class!

With practicing straightening my posture while in and out of class, I’ve also found myself focused dancing gracefully. I decided to look at my participation in ballet as something more than just physical activity. After all, ballet is both a sport and an art form. As time went by, I learned that balance within my core is key when trying to perfect the plié and tendu. I found myself more in-control than ever and I’ve been able to twirl around the dance studio with a little more self confidence. Most of all, I’ve been able to relax while going to this class, which was much needed considering how exam season is here.

I started this class with sore feet, but I think I’ve been able to toughen up after all of that practice.
I’m never going to be a professional ballerina, but hey, one can dream.

One can dream though! -VIA 5-SECONDS-OF-IDOLS.TUMBLR.COM

What have you done to prepare yourselves for exams while staying active?

—Amanda

A Final Farewell to U of T

For the past four years I have said goodbye to U of T in April. But it was a tentative goodbye, said with the knowledge that I was returning to the woes and joys of student-hood in September. Now, this April, today, I am saying goodbye to U of T for the last time.

To commemorate my time here, I went for a little walk the other day. Here’s some of what I saw:

IMG_0085

I remember when my parents dropped me off at those doors. I was nervous. I came in with boxes and bags and posters to hang on my wall. But beyond my edgy nerves, I remember the undeniable thrill of arriving. I was starting a new life, and I was making a new homeIMG_0095

When I discovered the UC Quad, I knew I was home. Standing on the low stone steps leading down onto the open green grass, and looking across at those sunlit archways, I remember how my imagination exploded with the possibilities at U of T. I dreamed up a whole life for myself, a whole new me, really. And it turns out, at a place as magical as U of T, dreams drift right into reality.

IMG_0130

My main stomping-ground in first and second year, Hart House Library. Curled up in a red arm chair, bathed in warm sunlight, a novel laying open on my chest—it may not have been the most academically productive space, but you can’t ask for a better setting for a studying induced nap.

IMG_0103

Yep, a secret, forbidden stairwell at Hart House. Where does it lead? I’ll leave that to the naturally adventurous…

IMG_0110

This room in Northrop Frye Hall! There are lots of wonderful reasons that make this room special. Peices of that university dream that I never really expected would come true. I’m sure, if you think about it, there’s a room somewhere at U of T that makes you feel the same way. If not, just you wait!

IMG_0113

The Isabel Bader Theatre is the most comfortable lecture hall at U of T. Trust me, it’s science! Not only did I have first year philosophy in this theatre, which I will never forget—because it’s first year philosophy—but the Bader was also home to The Bob sketch comedy performance. Here, in this theatre, I really got to be me, and a whole lot of other people, but mostly me.

Wow! What a great pleasure it has been to attend the University of Toronto. It was certainly the best, most fulfilling, most challenging, and most rewarding part of my life, to date. And it was extra special having the opportunity to share some of my experience with you, the U of T student community, this last year.

To all of you who ever read one of my posts, and to the whole of U of T, the professors, T.A.s, students, admin, caretakers, grounds workers, chefs, cashiers, and coat-check volunteers:

Thank You. It was diamond!

- Stephen.

 

Getting Back To Business

Last week was all about settling in to the new semester. This week, it’s all about bringing my game back. Now is the time to juggle school, extra-curriculars, and physical activity.
Being active during the holidays was admittedly easier. However, this semester with three new half courses added to my previous load, I need to start planning out when I going to exercise.

Trust me. VIA GIFS-FOR-THE-MASSES.TUMBLR.COM

During first semester, I would exercise on whim, but would still schedule in a registered class, like Pilates. Yet I’ve made a pact to crank up intensity when challenging myself. I know that organizing and planning workouts are the next step to achieving my new goals. Of course, I love being spontaneous like any other student at this university (does anyone consider 2:00AM food runs a normal way to bond with their friends now?). But when it comes to getting back on track, structure is crucial to realizing my goals. Over the past few days, I reviewed my schedule to see what exercise plan I can realistically commit to now that life is just getting busy again.

Monday
Ah, the start of the week. The overall beginning. Monday.
I only have two classes. My last one ends at 4PM. I don’t know about you, but whatever happens on the first day of the week seems to set the tone for the days that follow. So from now on, I am going to aim to make Monday a gym day, when I go to Hart House and use the elliptical and other machines and do not care about working out in front of peers and strangers. By starting the week with going to the gym, I hope that it sets a positive “you can do it!” type of attitude when trying to exercise on the other days.

Speaking of starting off with exercise, today is the first day to start on building the MoveU Passport that goes into your Co-Curricular Record! If you want to sign up, just bring your T-Card to the Athletic Centre main office, and from there you can get on going with attending free drop-in exercise classes and social activities on campus. For more information, check out the facebook event page for the program. Don’t forget to #tryitUofT.

Tuesday
Tuesdays are two-class days as well. However, I finish at 3PM Since I’ve picked up a heavy course load with dense readings, I will devote Tuesdays to one registered exercise class so that I can head on out to the library afterwards. I`ve got my eye on a Judo class-stay tuned!

Wednesday
I’m scared about Wednesdays. They are eight-hour class days this term. My last class ends at 6PM, so I still have the evening and night to myself, but I don’t want to end it by collapsing onto my bed.  Since hump days are stress-ridden days, then this shall be a day devoted to relaxation. I will unleash my stress by dancing in my room, doing yoga, or Pilates, and any stretching that will calm me down. How else will I keep up with my planking?

Thursday
Thursday is yet another two-class day. However, I plan to make this a rest day. I will recharge and not panic over whether I should go to the gym or not because Queens Park is too icy to cross through. I think it will be much needed. Of course, just because I’m not going to the gym, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be huddled up in my bed on a TV-watching marathon. I’ll nonetheless do my best to keep active during my “free” day.

Friday
Fridays are slack days! It’s the end of the week, and I’m practically free, except for one class that ends at 11:00AM. I plan to make this not only a gym day, but a day centred on walking all over campus. I don’t want to just leave my relaxation to the confines of my room and planking—I want to be able to calm down in a public setting as well while taking in the sights and exploring hidden gems around U of T. Most recently, I’ve wanted to get acquainted with Hart House. It’s more than just using it as a place for going to the gym. I’m planning to check out live shows playing at the theatre there—as inspired by fellow blogger, Stephen’s post on theatre-going.

THE WEEKEND!

 

The past. I think. VIA GIFRIFIC.COM

 

Saturday
Freedom at last? Only temporarily. Depending on my workload and what’s due the week after, I will devote my weekends to either exercising or doing homework. After all, with no academic classes, why not take advantage of drop-in classes? Last semester, I was able to do a few drop-in cycling classes that my friend taught, and I plan to do the same for this time around as well.

Sunday
As for Sunday… well that’s a different story. Even though it’s the last day of the weekend, I think it’s best to admit that Sundays are truly Mondays. The pangs of guilt for procrastinating on readings all? And then spending all day catching up? Grudgingly completing rudimental chores? Worrying about the tests and assignments due in the upcoming week? For all of that, I’m leaving Sundays as a day for spontaneity. I could make time to hang out with my friends, go shopping, read a book outside of the curriculum, discover a parkette, and more!

I mean, I’m a university student after all; I still need some rebellion from my daily schedule.

So with all this fussing over trying to be organized how I’ll fit in my exercise, I could use some helpful hints. Tell me readers, how do you squeeze in staying active!

New Year, New Resolutions.

It’s 2014. Second semester has already started and I’m still trying to settle in. Along with my two full-year courses, I’ve got three new half-year courses, so my schedule has completely changed. And speaking of change, my schedule isn’t the only thing getting an overhaul. My goals have changed too. I know, it’s typical for everyone to make a few resolutions at the beginning of the year, and also to drop them after a few weeks, but this year I’m a little more hopeful.

My reaction to every new years resolution making before 2014. – VIA BILLBOARD.TUMBLR.COM

During the holidays, I took some time to reflect on my last semester and my attempts to establish a healthier lifestyle. I made a jumpstart on my aspiration to make a total 180 by getting out there and being active.I signed up for a Pilates class at the Athletic Centre. I made a pact to go to the gym at least once a week, and conquered the ever-so-despised plank. That was only the beginning. With the new year, I’ve come prepared with new, yet realistic, goals that I hope to achieve by the end of the semester. My goals for 2014 are as follows:

1) Try out a new exercise class.
With the second semester starting and all, I’ve been a bit inspired by the #tryitUofT campaign celebrating January as the month to get into new clubs and events. When it comes to exercise, I am craving a new approach. I’ve always stuck to slow, relaxation exercises, like yoga and Pilates. I think it’s now time to try something new. Now that doesn’t mean that I will quit Pilates— I mean, that whole semester spent doing planks wasn’t all for naught. I plan to keep up my relaxation exercises, along with my crazy dancing when I’m in my dorm, and in the gym.

I’ve been looking into martial arts, to even quirky classes like archery. Oh the many options that Hart House and the Athletic Centre at U of T has to offer!

2) Eat healthier
First semester was all about getting off my butt and moving my body. Second semester is still going to be about that, but it will also be about finding balance with the meals that nourish and energize my body. This is especially important after workouts, when I need my muscles to recover. I’ve realized how important eating healthy is; I find it affects my stamina when I have to move around all day. If I want to achieve my new goals, I need to start treating myself better.

Most of all, I don’t want to have a mid-day slump. I want to be able to be energized going into the gym and relaxed going out of it.

For inspiration, I took a look at fellow Student Life, and Health & Wellness, blogger Gloria’s post on mindful eating.

3) Go to the gym three times a week
Last semester was all about getting rid of the fear of going to the gym alone and exercising in public, and honestly, even though there are some days when I find myself slipping back to those thoughts, I’ve never once regretted going to the gym. Now it’s time to bump it up from going to the gym casually to making my commitment official.

4) No More Sleeping In
Oh my, sleep is a wonderful thing. Sleeping in is even better. But it’s a time-costing luxury that gets in the way of doing my work, and being an active person. Just like eating healthy, sleeping well is another goal that isn’t directly connected to being more active, but plays a huge role in the quality of exercise I get. So I want to be able to get to sleep earlier, and wake up earlier. I don’t want to go to the gym in the evenings, but instead, I want to start off my day by going to the gym first! That old expression, “you snooze, you lose” has never been this relevant!

What I used to think about sleeping. – VIA THETEENAGEGENTLEMAN.TUMBLR.COM

So far, these are my “healthy” goals for this semester.

Care to share your resolutions for 2014?

Halloween: Fight or Flight?

When I think of Halloween, I think of a holiday based on horror. But a holiday based on tackling my fears? Not really. However, this year, I bit the bullet and decided to attend MoveU’s Halloween event, Scary Skate. Yes, I took the name of this event quite literally; ice skating isn’t exactly my forte.

I’d rather do this than skate. –VIA SOULFULSOCK.TUMBLR.COM

I know. Despite all the free skating, free rentals, free refreshments, all the free glory, I was still trying to find a way of getting out of the event. I mean, the weather was kind of rainy, and my common room was warm and cozy, and practically told me to sit on the couch and watch TV for the night. However, I knew that if I backed out, I would regret not giving myself a chance to try to tackle my fear. It’s thrilling to take a few risks once in a while, and just remind myself what I can do. And again, the event was free, so there was nothing to lose.

Despite the rainy weather, I walked to the Varsity Centre. Since “free” is practically a magic word for the university student, and ice skating is (surprisingly, in my opinion) a harmlessly fun past-time for many people, Scary Skate was quite full, so I ended up having to wait for a while until I finally got to put on my skates. While waiting around with a few friends, I watched some students skate on the rink. There was one girl doing a triple axel, and two people were falling down repeatedly. I instantly knew who I was going to be when I hit the ice.

Alright, show off.. –FIGURESKATERXOX.TUMBLR.COM

When I did get on the rink, let’s just say that I spent the majority of the time grabbing on to the boards, while doing a little skating here and there. Most of my energy was spent on screaming or laughing every time I managed to skate free of my friends’ arms or the boards. The thing about skating is that in order to balance, you need to have a strong core. Even though I barely skated without support, I managed to avoid falling face first onto the ice when I did let go. This feat, my dear readers, is probably due to my new found friendship with planking and the core strength I’ve developed as a result!

Planking is a wonderful thing that will protect you from this. I think.. –VIA SENIORGIF.COM

Afterwards, I decided to hit up Victoria College’s Halloween pub night, instead of watching TV, because I felt energetic about the fact that I actually got on the ice. I wanted to reward myself. At the pub, I talked to my friend, who is also a spinning instructor at the Athletic Centre, about my time at Scary Skate. After telling her how it was a sort of a struggle for me, she told me that she also leads a skating class every Friday morning (um, how does this girl find energy?). She offered to teach me how to properly skate one-on-one at the Varsity Centre next time. I’m also planning to drop by the Athletic Centre for another spin class because what else is friendship for but to support one another? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve found that it pays to talk about where I’m at in my journey for a more active lifestyle. Just talking about what I need to improve on helps to make my change feel real, especially if I’m surrounded by active friends willing to encourage me.

So ice skating is a work in progress, but Scary Skate was nonetheless fun! I enjoyed goofing around and not being serious with friends (while they showed off their spectacular skating skills). Most of all, I like the inclusive mood at MoveU events, especially since I’ve been getting into a rut with my lone exercise routine. After all, you can only do so much planking alone in your room.

Anyway, next week, on November 6th, MoveU and UTSC’s PACE team are hosting a tri-campus event: dodge ball at Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park. It’s only $5 and transportation will be provided, as well as free food and equipment. I’m sorry, but I have to repeat: Trampoline Park. Free. Fun time guaranteed. I’ve never been to a tri-campus event before, so this is going to be another “risk-taking” task that will call on me to conquer another fear: getting over my shyness. But, this is going to be at a trampoline park, and nothing is going to stop me from going.

I’m going to bring my game on next week. –VIA GIFBAY.COM

Since I’m tackling a fear each week, I dare you, fellow readers, to do the same. Perhaps I’ll see you at the trampoline park?

— Amanda

in which we give thanks at Thanksgiving

This album has been my constant companion over the last few months, but also this past weekend in particular.

It’s a free, downloadable EP of seven tracks by a friend of mine called “I AM”, Nicholas Cheung, who is a music producer from Vancouver. “Mandarin” is my current go-to track: brisk and mellow, subtly layered the same way trees along Highway 404 are turning autumn shades of reds and browns.

It’s free, and it’s good. 

Fall in Canada means Thanksgiving, which means a long weekend, which means turkey and family feasts, and the return of the pumpkin spiced latte.

However, being an International student during a Canadian national holiday means I face the problem of not having a family to celebrate with.

I’d heard about turkey dinners and Thanksgiving before, but 2009 was the first time I encountered it in full force, as the downtown Toronto core drained out into quieter cottages and lake houses for the weekend.

Public holidays are days set aside for family and friends to enjoy themselves together communally, however for a family like mine, separated by a 12-hour time zone, it can be hard to feel festive.

IMG_8389

Thanksgiving Skype hangouts with the family!

I’m sure there are many of you out there who are just like me, who for whatever reason, are unable, even on publicly designated “spend-time-with-your-family” days, to be with them.

In my first year, it was a rather lonely ordeal, as residence would clear out over the weekend, and I’d be left to figure out to do with the extra time – usually studying. Over the years, I began participating in the extra-curricular communities on campus and started developing relationships with many different people. We studied together, worked together, and celebrated together.

Four years later, Thanksgiving for me has become eating celebrations over the weekend with communities of people I’ve come to call my family in this city. These are the people who have changed my university life in drastic ways, and are a big reason why I call Toronto a home now.

IMG_8390

Celebrating with Baked Veggie Lasagna and a 20 pound honeyed ham. That’s right.

People are key focal points around which our lives revolve because they have the capacity to give us immeasurable warmth and love

We all belong to our own communities, big or small.

I know our university is a sprawling mass of buildings in the middle of a sprawling urban center.

But the campus can be more than just a series of lecture halls we move to and from.

U of T is home to vibrant, and dynamic communities, full of people from all sorts of disciplines and from all over the world, connected together by skills, interests, faith, or values.

IMG_8380

Went somewhere 2.5 hours away this past weekend with my faith community.

Ulife offers a comprehensive directory of groups on campus, including their contact information. If you’re looking for a place to get connected, and didn’t get around to Clubs Fair during Frosh week, this is a good place to start.

If you’re an International looking to get connected, there are many groups on campus that get together to celebrate with each other in place of family at all the events. The Cumberland House just off St. George and College host different events regularly to celebrate different holidays and host conversation cafes.

Every Thanksgiving, I am particularly thankful for the people who have become my family in Toronto.

Who did you spend your weekend with?
What were you thankful for this Thanksgiving?