Hello September: Play Day and early goal setting

Welcome back everyone! It’s hard to believe it’s September again.

My name is Annette and I’m excited to be a returning contributor to the Life@UofT blog this year. I’ll be continuing to cover all things physical activity and fitness with a weekly post you can expect to be published every Friday.

If you’re new to the blog, hello and welcome! If you like what you find, you can check out the archive to catch up on all the fun we had last year.

A bit about me: I’m a fourth-year student double majoring in Physiology and Biochemistry and minoring in German Studies. I’m absolutely wired right now on account of impending doom (read as: LSAT), but I’m doing my best to be excited about all that will follow for the rest of the year. I’m a peculiar person – half of the time I’m a bit of a grandma who likes to go to sleep early and sleep lots, drink tea under a fuzzy blanket – that sort of thing. The other half of the time, however, I’m curtain climbing and training to be a ninja – I just don’t know an in between.

Annette is seen hanging upside down from a set of aerial silks.

(I spend a lot of time upside down…)

September is a big month, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Between moving in and out of apartments/residences, shopping for textbooks, starting classes and trying to override a very “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle and/or sleep pattern, there’s a LOT going on. You should see my calendar, it’s absolutely BONKERS.

Continue reading

7 Days of Summer

September brings out all sorts of feels in the student body. If you’re like me, just the anticipation of the first week of September takes out way more energy than when I’m actually living it. The only thing that can take my mind off of the anxiety/excitement is trying to enjoy my last week of freedom.

Ah, August. You’re the Sunday night of summer; I hate that you’re here but at least I can use you to do the fun, summer things I promised myself I would do this time around. Let’s take a look at how I spent my last full week of August, shall we?

Continue reading

Tri-Campus Travelling

As a St. George student, just exploring downtown Toronto is a grand task that has taken me 4 years of my undergraduate degree. That’s why the fact that the University of Toronto is made up for two more beautiful and fully-loaded campuses in two different cities doesn’t even cross some students’ mind. So finally, this past week, I had the pleasure of travelling to UTM and UTSC for some meetings and although I missed the comfort of home (aka Robarts 13th floor Sussex corner), I have to say the experience was thoroughly satisfying.

picture of a nature display

UTM, Davis Building, 2nd Floor

UTM was logistically easier to go to because there’s a shuttle that goes from Hart House to UTM’s instructional centre. It’s a $6 ticket that gets you to Mississauga in a mere hour given the time of day. The campus is actually built amongst the valley of Credit River which means cleansing nature hikes between your day classes is a total possibility (Think Queen’s Park times a hundred + a body of water). The buildings are pretty much all connected to each other so imagine the blissful winters. Yet there is an actual forest right beside the campus, so imagine the serene summers.

One of the first things I saw when I entered the campus was a Starbucks so that’s a positive point for any institution. I especially love the contemporary design and the walk-through to the CCT building; the minimalist feel calls for some serious instagrammable moments. It can get pretty busy during the school year, so in my experience, the summer is the best time to really breathe the campus in. It’s really weird because once you get used to the busy-city impression of UTSG, you start to notice the little things that set UTM apart.

picture of the uTSC Bookstore

UTSC on the hottest day ever

UTSC was next on my list; it took me a subway ride all the way east to Kennedy and then an express bus to campus. Luckily, I was there on a Wednesday and this meant that I got to take a look at the farmer’s market that they put on every Wednesday until October. In fact, I was actually informed of the market by someone in my meeting who brought along some Brie to snack on. While walking through the market, I was joined by a herd of people playing Pokémon Go. Surprisingly, even on the hottest year of the season, I actually saw multiple herds walking all over UTSC playing that game. I actually didn’t realize the severity of the situation until my friend stood in a line-up at the food court for 10 minutes before the group noticed and informed her that they were not in line but in the middle of a battle. Other than that, my favorite part of the school was the Rotunda; the space was naturally-lit and I could tell that was where the action happened! It’s also only a coincidence that there is a starbucks right there.

picture of stalls set up outside of UTSC

The Farmer’s Market set up at UTSC

Despite my tourist-esque presence at the other U of T campuses, I realized that they were both very welcoming campuses in that since the buildings are newer than UTSG, they are all accessible and have a very inclusive design. I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely recommend taking some classes, especially in the summer, outside of UTSG just to get a taste of the programs that are unique to UTM and UTSC. I would love to hear about your experiences with the two campuses as a UTSG student, leave me a comment below!

Calling All Veggie Lovers!

Lettuce delve into the wonderful world of vegetarian food on campus! Olive these radishing meals are sure to beet your hunger pains and squash your bad mood. If you carrot all for what I’m dishing out, peas continue reading!

Phew! Okay, now that I have reached my self-imposed pun quota for the day, let’s begin!

Veda

There are two Veda locations on campus; there’s one in the Multifaith Centre and one in Sandford Fleming. This is by far one of my favourite places to grab a bite between classes. They’re dedicated to serving healthy and delicious Indian food. All of their curries are nut-free and gluten-free, and they have a good variety of vegetarian and vegan options.

Pictured: meal from Veda

Last time I went, I had a small curry bowl combo, which costs $10.25. I got to choose two curries and one type of rice, I got three pakoras on the side, and I got an apple juice. The portions are huge—definitely enough to take some home and eat later—and I really love the taste. They’re one of the only places in the city that I know of that serves butter tofu, which is SO DELICIOUS!

The Green Beet

This adorable gem is located in the basement of Gerstein. It gets quite crowded at peak times, but it is definitely worth it. They have a great variety of all-vegetarian fare, and lots of vegan options too. Last time I went, I got a delicious veggie lasagna. It was creamy and cheesy and just generally yummy and it came with a side salad tossed in sweet balsamic vinaigrette. My meal cost $6.66.

Pictured: Meal from the Green Beet Continue reading

Top 189 types of Instagram posts using the #UofT hashtag

Just kidding. I mean top ten. Can you imagine 189???

Happy birthday week to UofT! 189 is a ripe old age and our academic institution has seen lots of growth and development over the duration of its existence. Danielle’s recent posts on major historical moments at UofT give a great outline of what we’ve been through to arrive at this point. The present-day lifestyle of a UofT student is rather different than what it used to be, on account of there being significantly more glass buildings, less trees, a lot more online presence, and a lot more hashtags.

UofT logo with birthday hat edit.

In celebration of our university’s 189th birthday, I took the liberty of perusing through the ever-so-reliable information forum popular amongst us millennials (Instagram) to bring you the top ten types of Insta posts that use the #UofT hashtag, to see whether this is indicative of a current student’s UofT experience. One takeaway from this week’s blog: UofT students are AMAZING photographers. 

Continue reading

Happy Nutrition Month!

The month of March brings with it many things:

  • Midterms
  • Papers
  • Movie releases (London Has Fallen comes out tomorrow (sequel to Olympus Has Fallen), I’m excited but also skeptical… then again, how bad can a Gerard Butler-starring film really be?)
  • Warmer weather (hopefully!)
    AND
  • Nutrition Month!

Registered Dietitians of Canada celebrate Nutrition Month every March. This year, they’re encouraging Canadians to take a 100-meal journey over the course of March, focusing each week on a new goal such as making quality food decisions and being aware of portion sizes. Continue reading

Discover #JoyAtUofT in the Little Things

“It’s such a cold, cold world (hello cold world)
And it’s got me down, but I’ll get right back up, as long as its spins around
Hello cold world” – ‘Hello Cold World’, by Paramore

The winter blahs are still in full swing, and we don’t even have snow this year to brighten things up. On top of that, midterms are here to keep us preoccupied. Thankfully, February also happens to be #JoyAtUofT month, to help us get some inspiration from each other as we attempt to stay positive in a time of year when it’s all too easy to be down.

On one hand, El Niño took care of the heaps of snow I was warned about. On the other, the lack of snow is kinda depressing, too...

On one hand, El Niño took care of the heaps of snow I was warned about. On the other, the lack of snow is kinda depressing, too…

I can definitely relate. Granted, I don’t have any full-year courses this year, so I didn’t have any assignments/essays due at the start of the semester. Midterms have come along equally brutally, though. I know I complained about them last time around, but the added blasé of the season seems to amplify their effect on my mood. Grey skies, wet concrete, and barely a hint of snow on the ground have characterized many of the days I’ve had to make the walk from Chestnut to campus.

It’s times like this that finding some joy in life can really make or break my productivity levels. I’m way more likely to get things done when I don’t feel like Eeyore all the time. Amidst all the chaos, squeezing in time to do the little things that put a smile on my face is definitely worthwhile. Frantic as I should be studying, spending time relaxing in the common room among friends can lighten the load on my shoulders, even if it’s just for that brief period of the day. It could even be as simple as making a food run to Med Sci with the gang. Getting out and pursuing hobbies such as photography have a similar effect, letting my heartbeat and stress levels fall to healthy rates.

Getting out with my camera is a great stress-reliever, and definitely brings me some happiness during this seasonal lull.

Getting out with my camera is a great stress-reliever, and definitely brings me some happiness during this seasonal lull.

Joy for me also comes from extracurriculars. Being a member of this awesome Student Life Community Crew has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for any other; I get to see some of the most creative people I know, every week. From hearing their ideas in the meetings, to reading the final product each day, it’s easy to see why Student Life chose them to represent the student body in this way, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. The Blue Sky Solar team that I signed up for just a couple of weeks ago, has already proven to be a source of escapism from the world of academia, if only for a little bit at a time. Researching alternative designs for software, with the promise of soon getting the chance to actually write the code to match, has been a great ride so far.

The weather might be uninspiring, but there’s still plenty of things that manage to lighten up the atmosphere. Be sure to share what brings you #JoyAtUofT on Twitter and Instagram – I’ll be keeping an eye on the hashtag to get some ideas!

My Joy at UofT: Theatre

I recently finished my very last stage production at UofT. It was a play called “Rope,” which is about two university students who kill one of their friends for “philosophical reasons” and put his body in a chest. They host a dinner party, using the chest as the table. It’s a play by Patrick Hamilton, but most people are more familiar with the Hitchcock film that was based on the play. It was definitely an interesting play to work on! I have always had a passion for theatre, but I don’t study it at UofT. I always knew that I’d probably get involved with theatre when I got to university in an extra-curricular capacity. It’s no surprise, then, that “Rope” was my fifth on-campus production.

It’s safe to say that I have spent a lot of my undergraduate time rehearsing. I mean, A LOT! Rehearsing quickly becomes like a part-time job, especially in the lead-up to Show Week when there’s Stumble-Through, Tech, Dress, and sometimes even a Sitzprobe, which is when the singers and the band play together for the first time. For me, campus theatre has been well worth all the hassle it so often entails. It was worth all the times I had to stay up late finishing assignments because rehearsal ran late, it was worth all the missed social gatherings, it was worth all the sore throats and worrying and aching muscles. I have definitely put blood, sweat, and tears into every role—word to the wise: beaded dresses and stage falls do not mix! Despite all that, being involved with campus theatre has been one of my greatest joys at UofT.

The first time I got involved with campus theatre was with “The Mousetrap” in my first year. I got a callback, but I didn’t get a part. Nevertheless, I caught the bug. I liked how welcoming and energetic everyone was at the callback; I didn’t feel nervous at all and I actually had a lot of fun. I auditioned for the TCDS’s musical that year, “The Frogs,” and I spent the next few months of my life frog jumping like an absolute maniac. In second year, I got to play Einstein’s girlfriend in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” The great Steve Martin, who is the playwright and someone you may know from SNL, tweeted us to wish us well with the show! It wasn’t until “Into the Woods” that I really felt at home in the UofT theatre community. By that time, I had made so many friends through theatre and I was well and truly used to the way things worked. I loved that show so much; some of my best friends from undergrad are people I met in that cast. Next, I did my first Shakespeare in third year: a very unconventional staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that took over all of Trin Proper for a few nights. Finally, “Rope.”

There are a lot of things that I have always loved about theatre. I have always loved developing my artistic skills. I have been performing in front of any audience that would have me since I was extremely young. I have loved the costumes, the lights, and the atmosphere ever since my Dad first took me to see a show.

There is one thing, in particular, that I love about theatre that has proven to be especially true in the context of university: it provides a built-in sense of belonging. I came to university not knowing anyone, as many people do. When you think about it, that’s a pretty crazy and daring thing to do! As I have mentioned previously, I’m a pretty shy person. I don’t like to be anywhere unless I have a concrete reason to be there; I need a specific role to fulfill. What could be better for me, then, than to be assigned a specific role in a play? It’s exactly what I needed to feel at ease. I found my place of belonging on the stage at UofT, and that belonging has brought me so much joy!

Where do you find your #joyatUofT?

Pictured: Me playing Cinderella in Into the Woods

Gosh, I am going to miss it!

Clubs to Get You Moving in 2016

Welcome back! I hope everyone’s well on their way to settling into a new semester. I can’t say I started it particularly enthusiastically; however, I feel I’m very much back in the groove. I start a circus silks class at the Athletic Centre soon (can’t wait to report back!) and Jiu Jitsu officially resumed today. I’ve dedicated this term to myself and my well-being above all else. I’ll let you know how that goes. So far… pretty good.

Tuesday was the annual winter Clubs and Summer Job Fair hosted by the UTSU at the Varsity Centre. I’ve never missed it — and for good reason. The fair isn’t a particularly popular event, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to chat with people (club executives and employers). It’s a very different environment compared to the fall Clubs Day at Hart House Circle. Even if you’ve never been, you must know what I mean…

How it looks... Source: UTSU Facebook Page

How it looks…
Source: UTSU Facebook Page

How it feels... (Also: name that movie!) Source: blogs.disney.com

How it feels…
(Also: name that movie!)
Source: blogs.disney.com

I seized the opportunity presented by the lack of stampede to interview a couple of sports/athletics-related clubs that were represented at the fair today. Without further ado…

The University of Toronto Ski & Snowboard Club (UTSSC)

12615723_10153900550121103_847046672371435288_o

UTSSC offers affordable ski and snowboard trips for students. The club welcomes skiers and boarders of all skill levels. Never tried your hand at either of these winter sports? No problem! Absolute beginners are 100 per cent welcome, and the club offers free lessons over the course of their first two weeks.

One club executive I spoke to explained that a large part of their membership consists of international students hitting the slopes for the first time (no doubt to find something to redeem this dreadfully cold, harsh season that is Canada’s winter). The club executive describes the club as a place where anyone who wants to ski and snowboard can come together, meet and make friends — within a totally non-competitive, recreational environment.

UTSSC runs weekly trips to local hill Mount St. Louis Moonstone. They also host a Quebec trip over reading week — this year to Mont Sainte Anne, which I’ve enjoyed more than once! Anyone interested in joining UTSSC should check out their Facebook group (if it motivates you: I found a rather unflattering photo myself conducting this very interview, yikes!) and/or their website for additional information and sign-up options.  I HIGHLY recommend seizing such an opportunity to anyone who hates winter (wait, isn’t that everyone?). I find solace in the fact that while it may be freezing… I CAN FINALLY GO SKIING AT LAST!

University of Toronto Dance Club

12615349_10153900550266103_1235277869449431250_o

The main function of the University of Toronto Dance Club is to offer dance classes to U of T students and alumni. The club offers classes in a variety of styles, though the executive member I spoke to explained he personally got involved because he wanted to dance Salsa. Good choice, amigo. Latin dance makes me weak in the knees, it’s so, so impressive and, in my experience, a lot of fun. The club is a great place for anyone who wants to dance, try something new and meet some new people! My informant tells me lots of people find many friends within the community and greatly expand their social circles. The best part? Students pay only $40 for 10 hours of classes! Does this sound as awesome to you as it does to me?  Check out http://utdanceclub.com/ or join their Facebook group to start (or continue!) your dance education.

University of Toronto Jiu Jitsu Club

12622410_10153900550396103_6758298523847164347_o

Confession: I’m President. Consolation confession: I did NOT interview myself.

The University of Toronto Jiu Jitsu Club is a Japanese Jiu Jitsu club (many, many styles of Jiu Jitsu exist, even within “Japanese”), which trains at Hart House. It is a registered club at U of T, but it’s also part of the Jitsu Canada and the Jitsu Foundation, which are national and international organizations respectively (friends all over the world — can’t beat that!). Someone who wants to get involved would either visit http://www.jitsucanada.com/ or the Facebook group and get in touch with one of the fantastic instructors. Why someone might want to try it? According to Arlo it’s good fitness, good self-defense and what’s most important for him is “it’s a lot of fun!” I swear, he said it. Direct quote, not a shameless plug.

Naturally, I’ll insert my two cents ever so subtly…

IT’S AWESOME. No, but seriously… for those who might want a little more info on what exactly Japanese Jiu Jitsu entails:

Japanese Jiu Jitsu dates back to the samurai. It’s a system of unarmed combat the samurai developed for use if ever they lost possession of their sword (this is my favourite thing to say). Our style involves striking, locking, throwing, groundwork and weapons defense. It’s very self-defense oriented and it’s rather comprehensive!

While I think they’re fabulous, these are just three of many athletic clubs on campus, so don’t be discouraged if they aren’t quite what you’re looking for. That’s okay! Check here for a full list of our campus clubs, which will allow you to browse by category and find your perfect fit!

First Years – Unplugging on Campus

The start of the ’gap’ between midterms and finals is definitely a good time to find more opportunities to de-stress where possible. As I’ve been emphasizing the importance I’ve placed on striking a balance between work and play, I’ve decided to find out where my fellow first-years have been going to relax on campus. Specifically, I’ve been looking for places to ‘unplug’ and unwind without keeping a constant eye on my phone.

Continue reading